By Janet Cassidy
A few years ago, my husband and I were complaining we didn’t get to see enough of our friends. After hosting a fun, lively dinner party, we’d ask, “Why don’t we do this more often?”
I came up with a few simple guidelines.
Here’s how Supper Club works:
• Lots of friends are invited, but only the first 10-12 who respond can come. The dining room table can accommodate 16, but I’ve found a slightly smaller group keeps everyone engaged in the conversation.
When two or more discussions are happening at the same time, I can’t keep up.
• The menu is included with the invitation. I ask guests to share food allergies/intolerances with their R.S.V.P., which is due one week before the event.
• I cook the meal, but guests are asked to bring along a favorite beverage to share.
Some of my friends live 45 minutes to an hour away, and I don’t want anyone worrying about transporting food, proper food temperature, etc. And I like controlling the menu.
• Guests can reserve space for up to two friends. Those new friends are then added to future invitation lists (with their permission).
I like meeting new people, and this is a great way to include folks I don’t know without the stranger danger.
• At least six people need to make a reservation to prevent Supper Club cancellation. So far, this hasn’t been a problem.
Guests are invited to come 30 minutes before the meal is served.
I usually put out a cheese board (the easiest appetizer for a crowd — see examples below) and friends gather around the island in the kitchen. It’s a more intimate space than the dining room and encourages introductions.
It doesn’t feel like an ice breaker at all.
I began hosting Supper Club once a month. That was too frequent for everyone. So we’ve settled on one event each fall, winter and spring.
With vacations and family activities, summers are just too busy.
Each Supper Club is unique as attendees are always changing. The diversity of guests results in great conversations on everything from food production methods and local restaurants, to family issues and careers.
Just depends who shows up.
I love cheeseboards because they’re great beginning noshes without any extra work.
The best boards offer a mix of flavors, textures and colors, including: cheese, nuts, fresh or dried fruits, sweet spreads, crackers or flatbreads and fresh herbs.
A few of my favorite combinations:
• Cheddar, fresh apples, roasted pecans, seeded crackers, sage
• Blue Cheese, honey or fig jam, fresh pears, spiced walnuts, whole grain crackers, rosemary
• Feta, pitted whole dates, flatbread, pistachios, mint
• Swiss, plums or red grapes, smoked almonds, buttery crackers, parsley
(Janet Cassidy has 20 years experience as a certified master food preserver, canning and cooking class instructor and culinary judge. She has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications from Ohio State and in her spare time she is an enthusiastic food preservationist, baker, gardener and food blogger. Janet lives in Delaware County on five acres with her husband John Miller. She can be found at http://jansjars.blogspot.com/.)
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