Two down; ten to go. The second of my Twelve Parties for 2012 took place Sunday night. It was, as I explained in the previous post, an Oscar party: a small group of girlfriends, fancy hors d’oeuvres, yummy cocktails and a parade of stars in gorgeous gowns on TV. In short, it was perfect. There are some shows that are simply better to watch as a group activity. Twitter and Facebook are all very well, but there is nothing like watching the big game or an awards show with a crowd. I haven’t had so much fun watching the Oscars in years — and it is not like it was such a great Oscars. Between my friends’ insightful, and often hilarious, fashion commentary, the lively game of Oscars Bingo that I downloaded from the Internet, and those cocktails, I was giggling for four hours straight. It reminded me of college when my whole dorm used to gather around the TV in the basement to watch cheesy shows like “Melrose Place” and laugh our heads off. Adult life doesn’t often allow for such moments. So I was glad to recapture some of that fun.
The menu was, as I mentioned, made up primarily of a gorgeous tray of hors d’oeuvres from the Chicago caterer Blue Plate. The tray, which served ten people, was available as an amazing deal on Gilt City Chicago for only $95. The hors d’oeuvres were so elegant and tasted even better than they looked. Everyone gobbled up the ahi tuna with grilled pineapple, the beef carpaccio, and the smoked salmon. The other Blue Plate hors d’oeuvres included goat-cheese filled cherry tomatoes, spicy pecan sandwiches — so creative — and fingerling potatoes with creme fraiche, which was the only hors d’oeuvres that needed to be heated up. Lastly, Blue Plate made an enormous savory sun-dried tomato cheesecake to eat with assorted breads and crackers. It was stunning to look at and everyone loved it. It was so huge that half of it was left over and my family is still snacking on it.
The Blue Plate spread was an incredible value at $95. And it saved me hours of work. I just called Blue Plate to place my order using my Gilt City voucher and I picked up the hors d’oeuvres right from the Blue Plate offices on Sunday morning. The Gilt City deal was plainly intended to be for folks having Oscar parties, and in fact, many Gilt City offerings are seasonal and tied into what is going on in the city during a given week. So, if you are planning a holiday dinner or other seasonal event, it definitely behooves you to check out what deals are on Gilt City that week. I’m so glad that I caught this deal for my party!
I added a few savory items to the table – I do have my reputation as a cook to uphold! I made pesto deviled eggs (yum!) and my interpretation of pigs in a blanket, which with chicken apple sausage and honey mustard wrapped in puff pastry. (That one I seriously made at the last minute when I panicked about not having enough food, which of course I did.) My friend Rowena brought crudites and a lovely dip because I thought we needed something fresh and crisp. For the cocktails, I offered a choice between a Mango Crush, which was inspired by the Hawaiian locale of Best Picture Nominee “The Descendants,” and an orange-flavored Champagne Cocktail. Both were very popular with the ladies. Making a signature cocktail for a party is not very much work and it makes everyone feel festive. I picked that up from Ina Garten, who often pairs cocktails with her menus on “Barefoot Contessa.”
For dessert, I made bite-sizes brownies and grilled pineapple skewers. Also, just for fun, I filled popcorn containers with favorite movie candies like Whoppers, Milk Duds and Twizzlers and spread those around. And we had to have popcorn too! I made it special with melted butter and truffle salt. But as you can see, everything was bite-sized finger food, which made it easy to mingle, eat, watch the show and keep track of our Oscar Bingo cards.
I am not usually one to get elaborate with decorations, but I did want to create a fun atmosphere. I found inexpensive move-themed decorations at a party store and used those to decorate the hors d’oeuvres table. Many of those decorations are reusable, so I am keeping them for next year’s Oscar party. (Yes, I now want to make this an annual thing. That’s how fun it was.) I also tried to tie some of the hors d’oeuvres into the Best Picture nominees. So, for example, I called my Pigs in a Blanket “Moneyball Park Franks,” and my cream cheese brownies were dubbed “Black and White Brownies” in honor of “The Artist.” I even made little signs with all the names for the table. It was a small thing, but it made my friends smile.
In all, it was such a fun party to put together and not a lot of work. I shopped for the decorations and the ingredients the week before. I made the brownies a few days before. But everything else I did the day of the party and I still had plenty of time to clean up the house and help Zuzu with her piano before my guests arrived — mostly because Blue Plate did the bulk of the cooking. I would also like to thank to my husband — unlike Hilary Swank when she won Best Actress, I can’t forget to thank my husband — who took the kids out to dinner and then put them to bed while my friends and I enjoyed the party. My friends were very impressed.
Can’t wait for next year! Meanwhile, it’s already time to gear up for the March party, which will be an elegant dinner party for 8 sponsored by Artizone Chicago.