Having friends over for dinner on a Saturday night is one of our favorite things to do. Despite the fact that we live in a small condo (with an absolutely stunning view of the canyon and fantastic sunsets) we love entertaining. I particularly like thinking of the menu, what we will make for appetizers, a nice salad, main course...dessert.
We also love going to the Central Coast and getting great wines and bubblies to share with close friends.
I always start the process by going to our local markets for some fresh fare to cook up. Then while my hubby cleans the house I start on appetizers and the other dishes. I tend to freeze things already ready to go such as arancinis (risotto balls) and or other croquettes. I use left overs and turn then into little balls, coated with bread crumbs, ready to bake. This saves me a lot of time. I normally serve that with a side of marinara, or yogurt and herb sauce. A cheese platter will complement the appetizer so I don't have to stress too much over it. Steve will go outside and will collect some delicious leaves and some lemons so we can make the salad and dressing, which normally have simple flavors like balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper added to the lemon juice. Then I move on to the main dish, whatever it is, which is always vegetarian and normally simple. After most of food is ready to go. I display the croquettes on cooking sheets to be baked, I arrange the salad in beautiful platters and refrigerate it with the dressing all ready to go (but not mixed in of course). I get the main dish ready to cook. Then I fix the table. I take a lot of pride in setting a nice table for 6. That's the most people we can have in our small space, so I do my best to have a pretty table for these intimate dinners. If we have more people we usually do cocktail style and everybody stands around mingling.
I love flowers but have a passion for succulents that is just as big, so they do decorate many of the table settings we do. I also have pretty table cloths, some from Brazil (where I am from) and some from Germany (my husband is half German and his mom is from there so she and her sister give us linens from Germany, they are stunning).
Setting the table gives the tune for the party. There is always music (Pandora to the rescue) and laughter. We normally always start with champagne or prosecco (my favorites) and progress to wine with the food. I tend to cook too much food and send everyone home with a doggie bag. I hate having a ton of party food leftover, so I share everything. Sometimes we don't have dessert, I always have dark chocolate as a last resource. I tend to ask people to bring dessert, and most of the times they do not cook them, they buy something from some decadent bakery... I am OK with that.
Invite your friends over... it is a lot of fun. Specially if you play Mexican dominoes after dinner... that will be another post.