Just Ask Lally
So, I was having a party, the first real party at my house since Katrina. So how did I decide what to serve? I asked Lally, what else?
Having 35 friends over for dinner and drinks is no small undertaking. But it is “de rigeur” to make it look effortless. It would be gauche (or so I have been taught) to let your guests think you had gone to any trouble at all. So, it is all about planning. What will you serve? What will you serve it in? What will you serve it with? The truth is if you just map it out a little bit it will be a blast. And, here’s a secret, it’s a sure fire way to get all of those last few little “honey do’s” done around the house.
Amazing how the paint that had cracked from an old, long resolved, leak above the living room got fixed two days before the party. And how the hundreds (literally) of industry magazines I had in strategic spots around the house managed to find better hidden spots.
“I had Maria bring the silver you need to serve over to your home today,” says my incomparably thoughtful Aunt Dottie. Now, really, not only did she decide all on her own what I would need, but she had it brought to my home.
“What about flowers?” asked Aunt Dottie.
Feeling grown up I said, “I thought of that, the vases are in my trunk and I will take them to the florist the day of the party.”
“Oh good. What about the flowers for the powder room?”
Dejected, I accepted that I was still a hostess in training. “Oh. I didn’t think of that.”
“Not a problem, I’ll buy them when come,” she offers and brings three orchids that gave my bathroom a splurge of elegance.
Yes, I am America’s most spoiled child, niece, cousin… And you know what? I revel in it. I try not to be so needy of help, but I am just missing the Lally/Aunt Dottie hostess/entertaining gene.
Oh well. I have to say I nailed it with the drinks. I had a full bar and bartenders. Well, I am one of the Cocktail Chicks and people expect serious drinks. But I had 2 specialty (pre-mixed – and only certain drinks allow this) drinks complete with a colorful sign listing the ingredients.
The drinks for this party were invented for a friend who loves Mai Tai’s. She also loves daiquiris, so I suggested to Ferrel (drink inventor extraordinaire) that we use both dark and light rum like the original Mai Tai. She added a bit of Orgeat and even Bitters (you know how we love bitters). Well balanced, not overly sweet, but with depth and nuance. We proclaimed it the “Oh Mai.” Big, big hit!
To counter the rum based drink we also served “The Oops” – a bourbon based drink we invented pre-election for folks whose candidate did not prevail. To heal the election this is one helluva cocktail.
Dinner was: Andouille cracked corn grits with shrimp in cognac cream, Commander’s salad, garlic toast and pecan pie squares.
Other than my mother, who at 83 was one of the last to leave the party, proclaiming that I should not wait ‘til Christmas to get a new stereo, it all went off without a hitch: dancing (even dipping) and “eating, drinking, and carrying on.”
It was a blast. So when you are entertaining and you don’t know what to do – do what I do – ask Lally.