Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Eve Party

Two of my nieces graduated from college in May, and my sister chose last weekend to have a party for her daughter, before she leaves for the Osteopathic College of Medicine in Phoenix later this summer.  Sis chose the invites, then handed the event over to me to set the menu, style it, and cook it.  “Just do it” is part of her mantra….and she knows there’s no one better than me to throw a party everyone will love!


While I finalized the menu and she tasted samples of the food, I got to work on the pretty little details, including these napkin ties, using the peach, pink and orange from the invitation.  I think I used every Matteo and vintage satin band napkin I own for this party~

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My sister’s neighbors spent a while deconstructing the tulle before they finally asked me how I did these.  So for Esther, here are a few photos for reminder~

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I got the tulle from Shinoda’s but you can also get it at places like Nashville Wraps HERE.  Use two or three colors, according to your theme….tie it in a knot~

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Going under the original knot, make two more tight knots; fluff out the tulle a little and then trim with pinking shears or scissors….you will see them in a moment on the tables; I like the pom poms best when cut rather short; here it is before trimming~

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For all the food and dessert, I used wine corks with a slice taken off one side to sit flat and a slit in the top to hold a card.  Next time, I will use a printed card and punch it out to look more finished.  While not super finished, my handwritten cards did the trick; no one was left to wonder “what’s that?”

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For starters, we had a summer cheese tray of Brie, Delice de Bourgogne, Saint Nectaire and Point Reyes bleu, all from Costco, with raw almonds from Hopkins Ag, and fresh figs, many of which I sliced in half a moment after this photo; it was tough to take photos of the food in presentation state because as soon as it was set out, someone dove right in~

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I served two kinds of crackers with the cheese, as well as my homemade apricot and pear-vanilla jam, which everyone thinks contains honey but nope…just pears and vanilla beans and sugar….I love the sweet jams with the creamy cheeses in summer~


Also for appetizer we had tartines, which my sister kept wanting to call crostini until I corrected her a time or two and she started calling them tartinis to rhyme with martini; if you missed my earlier post on these go HERE…since that post I have found a new baker for French-style sourdough bread, so this bread came from Louie, who is in our Sunday and Wednesday markets.  These were toasted then topped with homemade garlic aioli or arugula pesto, chicken and/or baby arugula and topped with Gruyere cheese; this was a great appetizer and big crowd pleaser, especially for the men, though this pic doesn’t do it justice~


As we finished off the appetizers, I got in a few snaps of the flowers, which I got at the LA Mart and arranged the day before….using lots of summer flowers like gerbera daisies and dahlias in the party colors, as well as a huge “bucket of roses” for $20.  I loved the colors, here in the entry~

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And on the two very long tables, with a few mini roses and Dusty Miller added in~

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It’s always interesting to me that Californians always seem to be fashionably late!  We said party at five and dinner at six, but no one really started to arrive until six pm.  About seven, all the food went on the buffet table; hearty salads, caprese salads, farfalle with alfredo sauce and lemon chicken all right from the oven, as well as a large platter of Louie’s breads~


Nicoise salad, made with salmon instead of tuna was a big hit except that I put the salmon on top and some of the guests just took the salmon off….a moment later it went for a toss.  Everything in these salads came from the farmers markets: lettuces from Don and Eli’s Farm; eggs also from Don, olives from Lisco, tomatoes from Valdivia, green beans and baby potatoes from Sage….


Also a salad topped with grilled corn from Kawano and fresh peaches from Sunny Cal; this also had Sage’s beets and baby carrots as well as chives and dill flower from Chino Ranch, topped with a honey vinaigrette it was really popular~


Hard to see from the closeups, but each of these salads were served on a huge platter; this one is three feet long!  We had about 50 guests, and wanted to make sure we had plenty of food.  The last salad was wheatberry, with feta and olives and cucumbers, with a dash of cumin.  I will show you how to make this salad soon; it’s a little different but very healthy not to mention tasty~


Once the food was out I got to sit down for a few minutes before getting the dessert on the table….my brother in law gave a little toast to thank me for all the great food, which I acknowledged but then hid behind my camera!


I borrowed some great light strings from Raquel, and that really made it a festive atmosphere; the tables were full but the guests kept getting up to go find more food, more drinks, or visit with another table~


It took a lot of planning and a lot of prep work to get all this done; thank goodness for my niece Nicole, who helped me Friday and Saturday; thank you Nicole!! 


Moving on to dessert, we had a table full of various homemade treats….several dozen mini lemon meringue tarts and lavender crème brulee in dishes for one or two were the first to be eaten~


Several plates of strawberry crème puffs were served…


not to mention the favored chocolate crème puffs….about 125 of them…all eaten….


…in addition to fresh peaches and strawberries, a large bowl of mixed berries (all local, from the markets) and lavender-honey whipped cream, a chocolate tart and a cherry clafoutis fresh from the oven.  I thought that the guests would choose one or two of the desserts, but instead they wanted to taste all the desserts, so in a short time this food plus several refills were all gone~


and the guests all sat around enjoying the candlelight and conversation~


Congratulations, Erin (at right) on your graduation from George Washington University, we are so proud of you!


And here’s to more family parties this summer…I am going to host a party for Kailea later this summer to celebrate her graduation from Bucknell University.  In the meantime I think I am going to do a little wedding consult for one of my sis’ neighbors as well as a crème puff party or two for some teenagers.  Who knows where this will lead??  Look for some recipes and food tutorials soon.


  1. I agree with your sister, you are the one to throw a gorgeous party! Wow! I had to pin your picture of the beautiful cheese arrangement, now I will find the inspiration I need when I put one together.

  2. Perfect, perfect party!
    I adore those ice cream colours.

  3. You did a wonderful job...beyond wonderful! Everything looks so tasty and the presentation elegant. This is the atmosphere I love at a party. You did fabulous! :)


  4. Andrea everything is perfect! You always add the extra little details to make the event so special. Your family is so fortunate to have you!

    Art by Karena

  5. Oh my gosh A, I am exhausted just thinking about the work. I will never know how you do it all, but you certainly do it well. It ALL looks divine. How lucky your family is to have you at their fingertips!!
    I feel like an insider now that we've met. Will be getting back to blogging soon and plan on mentioning your fabulous baskets - which we are both using and LOVING (my mother now wants one).
    Your catering skills are only matched by your beauty.
    Side note: Meghan's best friend (and brand new husband) both just graduated from that same medical school!

  6. Wow you do throw an impressive party. I am referring my daughter to your post because she is an impressive hostess also. Always looking for new ideas. Hope you don't mind. Congrats on all the hard working students in the family.

  7. Oh my goodness! all this wonderful food looks like something Meryl Streep would have made in "It's Complicated"! I can't wait for you to share some of the recipes with us! Flowers were beautiful and I loved the cork idea!

  8. Beautiful family! Beautiful food! Beautiful party! The colors like citrus sherbert~ Beautiful YOU!!!!
    Hugs to a great Summer!!

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    1. Dear Sherry, I am looking into a fulfillment service. Yes, I know I have too much to do, and half of your order has been sitting in my office for months. Look for a shipping advice from UPS tomorrow as well as a partial refund....

  10. Andrea,
    I second Sherry's thoughts. No response to numerous emails, etc, etc........Our baskets are visable in recent posts of yours about the market in Laguna, I believe. If you would please spend an hour or two fulfilling our orders, all would be right in the world.......
    Please respond. Many thanks,

  11. Andrea this is absolutely gorgeous!! I would love to be a guest at one of your dinners that you do..so stylish, inspiring and
    P E R F E C T! I never invite myself anywhere, but believe me, I would ignore this rule if I was closer to you!
    Love from Afrique du Sud
    Colette xx

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