We decided to have a garden party, although the last weekend of July turned out a little cooler than we’d have liked. At least it didn’t rain!
I’m always sorry not to get to talk more with guests at parties as Nick & I both seem to be always on duty receiving, making sure people have drinks/food etc. So this time we decided to push the boat out (a tiny way) by hiring in some help – we found an agency who supply staff to serve drinks & food, take coats, show people where the loo is etc. It wasn’t a crazy expense, but if we’d have had the whole thing catered, then it would have been. I did research this, but having looked at several canapé menus I was struck by how many are pastry or bread-based, very traditional and boring, and I really didn’t want that to the be emphasis. It seems that if you want something a little different you really do have to pay handsomely.
So the food and drink would be our responsibility …first decision was that it had to be canapés, so then we didn’t need plates and people could move around and not be stuck sitting while they ate. Also, being a 3pm onwards kind of do, it wasn’t really mealtime.
It’s amazing what a bit of web research can come up with. I basically found a number of recipes I liked, then the night before made up some samples to test them out. I added in a couple of my own ideas too, such as strawberries dunked in icing sugar and served in plastic shot glasses (very cheap to buy at Sainsburys, and reusable). I wanted to serve some of our home grown produce too, so the baby courgettes came into their own. The sausages were tricky – either burning or sticking or both. It’s good to make the mistakes the night before! When I had the canapés how I wanted them, I photographed them for reference.
The next day, my good friend Lucy showed up and basically ran the kitchen – I showed her where everything was, showed her the photos and said ‘make them like this!’ and then I was her commis chef. She had some very good suggestions too – such as how to improve the honey glaze on the sausages – and between us we made probably about 500 canapés!
I can report everything got eaten and we had many compliments… I learnt a few things though – such as, don’t send out all the food in the first hour. Some guests arrived later and it was all gone. But basically it was great fun to do, we created the food we really wanted to eat and cost a fraction of having the whole thing catered. Quite a few guests thought it had been catered – and one even asked Lucy if she had a card, because he had a family do coming up and wanted her to do the catering!