Category: My Parties

Tastes of Spring: Appetizers

Goat cheese lollipops and fried artichoke hearts with lemon-thyme aioli

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Peach sangria, alcoholic and virgin versions

Tastes of Spring: Duck Confit

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After ten long hours, the duck confit is ready…

Tastes of Spring: Leek and Brioche Bread Pudding

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Tastes of Spring: Prep

The Duck Arrives

We airfreighted duck from Hudson Valley Foie Gras

And the preparation begins!

Tastes of Spring Dinner Party – Invite & Menu

My husband, Matthew, and his friend, Phil, have enjoyed planning and hosting quarterly dinner parties on a grand scale. Tomorrow is the Tastes of Spring party. Matthew is picking up the final wine pairings tonight, and Phil has been cooking for the past couple days. They’ll be posting updates and pictures as the weekend goes on.

Here is the invite reminder they sent out to the 10 guests today:

It’s that time. Springtime! There’s a sweetness in the air, the frost is long off the pumpkin, and after a bitter, cold winter Phil Monte and Matthew Miller have emerged bleary-eyed from their caves. And they are hungry.

And what better way to satisfy that hunger than with the Tastes of Spring 2011 Dinner Party!

That’s why it is our pleasure to formally invite you to join us tomorrow, Saturday, April 9, at 6 pm. The amazing, mouth-watering, eye-glazing, soul-stirring menu for Saturday’s dinner includes:

hor d’oeuvres
Goat Cheese Lollipops
Fried Baby Artichoke Hearts with Lemon-Thyme aioli
Ferrari Brut Italian Sparkling Wine NV

first course

Fried Oysters
Red and Green Leaf Lettuce with Balsamic Shallot Vinaigrette
Chaudoux Verdigny Sancerre 2008

second course
Green Eggs and Ham
Indian Asparagus Salad
White Asparagus Soup
Meyer-Fonne Reserve Riesling 2008 Vin D’Alsace
Alsace Trimbach Pinot Gris (2001)

third course
Truffled Potato Gnocchi with Peas and Chanterelles
Cooper Mountain Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 2008

fourth course
Sous Vide Duck Breast and Duck Confit – Raspberry Sauce
Leek and Brioche Bread Pudding
Truchard Syrah 2007 Carneros
Clos du Mont-Olivet 2007
Fratelli Revello, Vigna Gattera 2001

dessert
Strawberry Mousse Puff with Chocolate Drizzle
Chocolate Raspberry Tart
Chateau Laoupiac Gaudiet 2006
Warres Port LBV 2000
Dow’s LBV Porto 2003

Happy 2011 Party

About a week and a half before the end of 2010, Matthew and I decided we should have a little New Year’s Eve party. We did a Facebook event invite, and since event invitations aren’t very noticeable in the latest iteration of Facebook, we used the “Message Guests” feature to send FB messages about the party. We also texted/called the guest list.

Lesson 1: New Year’s Eve is one of those occasions that require advance invites. Many of the guests we invited already had plans for the evening. Next year, we’ll decide sooner to have a party so we can give more advance notice.

We still had a nice group of nine friends attend. Which gave us 11 people total at the party…that’s kind of cool for a party welcoming 2011!

The main attraction of the evening was Pucket, a British pub game Matthew’s sister Amy imported for him for Christmas.

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Harry Potter Party Pictures Part 1

I am delighted with the way the details and decorations turned out for the party!

My friend Gwyneth is a wedding photographer in New Hampshire, (how’s that for Google-friendly link text?) and she is also a basically awesome friend. She drove down from NH for the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows party and offered to shoot the party in addition to helping me decorate and clean up. So most of these pictures are from her. (I did bring my good camera, but I didn’t even take it out of the case. I did take a few pics with my cheap-but-durable camera. Any of the crappy pictures in this post are mine.)

Gwyn isn’t big on playing dress-up, but she likes me enough that she has agreed to a rule of “I wear a costume for Becky once each year.” I played that card last year for the Half-Blood Prince opening night, and forced her to accompany me to the theater dressed as Rita Skeeter. (I was Tonks.) She broke out the cat-eye glasses and quill pen again this year for the Deathly Hallows party.

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Harry Potter Party Plan

I kept a running list of ideas for the Harry Potter Party in a text document in the Parties folder on my laptop. When the party finally came together for the Deathly Hallows premiere, I just opened the doc, added new ideas, created to-do lists, and organized it. I was able to send it to the hosts a few days before to keep them in the loop.

Here’s the plan for the party. I had to make some alterations the day of the party–those notes are in green.

Party Order:
Guests arrive on platform (7 pm)
Photos against backdrop
Sorting into houses (teams)
Muggle quidditch relay (back yard)
Feast (dessert – dining room)
OWLs trivia game (dining room)
Reading from Deathly Hallows (library)
Astronomy tower (upstairs balcony) We ended up switching the library and the astronomy tower for flow reasons.
Awarding of prizes – House Cup (dining room)
Movie (Theater – several of us got tickets for the 12:05 showing)

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Harry Potter Party Prep

I’ve been planning this party for three years.

Seriously. (Siriusly?)

Three years ago, in the fall of 2007, I started reading the Harry Potter books. (Finally. I HATE having to wait for books to come out, so I never start a series till they’re all done. Waiting for multi-part movies is bad enough.) So of course, as I read them, I couldn’t help but come up with party ideas. I think Patronus Cookies were my first idea, when I found a reindeer-shaped cookie cutter in a Christmas set. I’ve had a Word doc going on my computer for probably that long, where I’ve jotted recipe, game, and decoration ideas.

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The Return of Castle Parties!

Tonight is the season 3 premiere of the TV dramedy Castle. As serious Browncoats (fans of the sci-fi Western Firefly), Matthew and I were excited to learn a couple years ago that Nathan Fillion would be starring in a new show. We vowed to watch it and promote it no matter what it was about. Because he’s The Captain.

(Joked one friend: “I would watch Nathan Fillion in a painting show.” Other friend: “Oooh! Nathan Fillion’s doing a painting show?”)

It couldn’t have been more of a bonus to find out the show was about a writer by the name of Richard Castle. (My maiden name is Castle, and I’m a writer. And so are my brothers. They like the show too.)

Anyway, so we’ve watched the show from the first half-season and did as much as we could to promote it. ABC picked it up for a full second season (and all the Browncoats breathed a sigh of relief, fearing a repeat of Firefly’s cancellation after a half season) and now a third.

Somewhere along the way we started inviting friends over to watch Castle with us on Monday nights. An informal hangout became a weekly ritual that grew in number of guests and elaborate traditions, including an expansive snack menu (must haves: Swedish Fish, chips and queso, Sour Patch Kids, and my “Monday Night Men” – Ben, Jerry, and Rick. Oh, and Matthew.)

Several weeks ago, our friends starting saying, “I can’t wait till Castle starts again! When’s our next Castle party?” Last year we had friends visit from Atlanta and join us for Castle night. One friend who moved away a few months ago is driving down from Massachusetts and staying over tonight.

Tonight’s menu: 7-layer Mexican dip with homemade guacamole and lime chips, baked Mexican dip (recipe here), ice cream sundaes, mozzarella sticks (in soft pretzel dough! How nom is that?), and various drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic (we usually get Newcastle ale – because that’s funny). Guests are bringing movie candy.

Tonight: whether you’re a regular Castle-watcher or not, invite some friends over to catch the Castle Season 3 opener, 10/9 Central on ABC.

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