July 11, 2011

Roaring 20s Party: A Progressive Affair

I have fantasized about doing a progressive dinner for a long time, and this one was worth the wait. Three houses. 1920s themed. The first house was all about the Speakeasy and prohibition cocktails. We progressed to a candlelit, Great Gatsby-inspired sit down dinner with Cole Porter tunes playing in the background. And ended the evening, at the third house, staged as a jazz club for dancing and plenty of more sloe gin fizzes! When guests ordered their first drink, suspender-wearing bartenders pinned them as notorious 1920s personalities--Al Capone, Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, etc.--and they had to figure out who they were. (Parlor games & ice breakers get a lot of flack, but I love them)! It was very fun to research the popular foods & cocktails of the 20s and create a menu inspired by the times. Apparently, the caesar salad was invented in the 20s, and was all the rage, so we did a grilled chopped one. Decadent shrimp cocktails and grilled rib-eyes rounded out the menu for our Gatsby-esque dinner...with plenty of champagne, of course. And with all of that drinking, no one cares about a proper plated dessert, so a candy bar featuring all of the candies invented in the 1920s was perfect. Amy made the night all the more festive with black & white and luxurious touches. Each lady received a long strand of pearls and a deco-feathered headband, all handcrafted by show-off Amy. And the napkins each featured memorable quotes from the 20s; e.g. "Write drunk. Edit sober," Ernest Hemingway. Plus the guests dressed to impressed, pulling out all the stops, which absolutely made the night. Now I'm dying to do a party for each decade, though I'm not sure anything will be as festive as the 1920s: the era of the party.
The Menu


sloe gin fizz
sloe gin, gin, lemon, egg white, simple syrup

the colony
gin, grapefruit, maraschino cherry

french 75
gin, champagne, orange, lemon

dirty martini
vodka, dirty sue premium olive juice, olive

whiskey sour,
bourbon, house sour


'hotsy totsy' ham ball with club crackers

'cat's pajamas' cheese straws

'racketeer' radishes

'packing a piece' peanuts

'dive' devilled eggs

sit down

spicy oregon bay shrimp cocktail,
served up

grilled caesar salad with sourdough croutons

grilled peppered rib-eye steaks
ricotta pudding. wilted spinach with pancetta. currant-pinenut relish


1920s candy bar:
abba zabas, charm suckers, reece's peanut butter cups, baby ruths, charleston chews, gummy bears, jujyfruits & milk duds

Hot. Dog. Party.

Next time you get flustered with 'what should I make for company?', skip the drama and grill some hot dogs! They are delicious. And crowd pleasing. And surprisingly unexpected. Though I technically 'made' nothing but a dip (more on that in a sec), assembling the simplest sides with fresh ingredients made for an entertaining-worthy spread. Now, why don't you hear more about sour cream and onion dip for potato chips? Did I invent it? Into the Cuisinart I threw: one Walla Walla sweet onion, two cloves of garlic, a heap of dijon and a 16oz. carton of sour cream. Top with lots of cracked pepper and snipped chives. Serve exclusively with Ruffles potato chips. It's okay to not always be farmer's market inspired. Chips and dip, hot dogs and s'more are all American classics that I never want to become too fancy for!!
The Menu

ruffles potato chips with sour cream and onion dip

grilled hot dogs with traditional condiments

corn on the cob

buttermilk coleslaw

watermelon, mint & feta salad

grilled s'mores

strawberry shortcakes