Heat Lightning, Celine Dion & Gin in a Slow Cooker
Truth be told, I just ate stolen salmon. Well - not stolen exactly - but definitely gifted for group purposes and stashed in the bottom of my 'produce drawer' for private consumption. Said salmon was brought over from Russ & Daughters by my friends Jeremy + Courtney during an engagement party I threw Saturday night for my (non-Bumble) baes Delmo + Davey. I half thought about the menu all week and half pushed it to the dark corners of my to do list (performance anxiety is sometimes a bitch). Not to mention that it's been a cool 90 degrees and my apartment's ceilings are maybe 6.5 feet tall (not emphasizing for poetic purposes, they're low as shit) which makes any productive thinking a bit 'iffy'.
When all was said and done, I decided on a few summer classics - Aperol spritzes, French 75s, cheese + charcuterie, greek salad (with a twist - no cucumber - cause Delmo hates it), linguini with clam sauce and cupcakes, courtesy of Clare.
I woke up on Saturday, stretching and purring like the Betty Draper wannabee I am, sort of anxiously excited about my stack of errands. I had to clean the floors! measure the ice cubes! clean the mirrors till they sparkled! but the dirt! quel horror! I set about drinking ice water and looking at my nails, pondering ice coffee for about 40 mins, before rousing myself for the day's work. I had 20+ guests coming at 7pm ish and shit to doo.
I spent the afternoon being my neighborhood-y, errand-y, weekend-y self: grabbing baby's breath and bee-laden clusters of flowers from my flower guy, aperol and gin from my booze guy, feta from my feta guy (every girl needs one), veggies from my fave depot and bread last minute from the angry grocery couple on my corner. I windexed, I dusted, I made a photo booth backdrop, I cleaned the inside of my toilet, I scrolled for some Aretha, I had rose with my bagel at 11am, I generally felt jazzed.
By 6 or so I was positively humming with anticipation (alright, alright, I was ready to drink and needed a reason) and got rolling on one of my favorite parts of hosting - art directing the food / the presentation. Setting the table has always been my thing; when I was little and my mom was doing her intricate kitchen dance (2 parts whisk the eggs, 1 part marinate the chicken, 2 parts yell for more Frank Sintra and 4 parts yell at my father for dropping utensils on the floor), I would grab things from around my house to speak to the meal's mood. Sometimes that was chalk figures and candlesticks, other times it was beaded necklaces and china; I was agnostic, as long as it fit the scene. This dinner was no different. Delmo + Davey got engaged in Paris so I had to lean into the French thing; I cleared off my kitchen table and pulled in pieces from my apartment - a "But first, champagne" painting that Steph gave us, some beautiful lush flowers, the Aperol bottle (that orangey fuchsia color is the tits!), and framed some images from an old Vogue mag I had on hand. I set out the cheese and 'encased meats', readied the polaroid and laid back. 10 mins later, Clare came up and we set out the "YAY" balloons she grabbed (they were a real game changer - she got them from a god forsaken "balloon saloon" in Manhattan which was a real triumph of will in the heat) and took pics of me at various angles, sad but also happy that I looked like I was wearing a diaper in every pic (goodbye onezie, hello jean shorts).
Now, the classic RCP dinner party move (for better or worse) is that I always end up putting things on the menu which call for last minute preparation. The greek salad was prepped and sitting out but I was making individual cocktails for my guests and was planning on whipping up the linguini with clam sauce (a recipe from my aunt "Zizi" Lisa which we always eat on Christmas Eve, night of the 7 fishes) later, when everyone was on my roof and out of the kitchen. The last minute cooking-during-the-event tendency isn't irrational but it does make for a slightly theatrical event, e.g. there's no true organization when you're cooking for a big-ish group on the fly. But I digress.
Solara showed up, Delmo + Davey showed up, the surprise guests Alison + Suze (of #bachsuzette fam) showed up with my ice delivery, and friends started arriving 2 by 2. The party was rolling. I made the cocktails (it was so fcking hot that the ice cubes I had carefully measured evaporated before they hit the liquor, alas) and shepherded people up to the roof. Now, my buzzer doesn't work, so I was climbing up and down the roof ladder with cheese trays, slippery bottles of booze, phones that people had left in my apartment, balloons, and running up and down the 3 flights of stairs to grab guests I had or hadn't met before. Cue great looking calves and dropping a lot of brie on my floor - luckily it was a forgiving crowd. In the end, there were about 25 of us sprawled out with rose, champagne and sweaty meat, toasting the couple and trying to understand the nuances of marriage, weddings, and adulthood. "Do you even understand how much food and bev is?" we muttered to each other. "Wait..what does bev stand for?"
Now, another thing I should mention about dinner parties (god bless em) is that I love the prep and the careful organization and the meticulous consideration but like..in the end all you need is a block of bread and $10 champagne. We ate so much frommage and toasted so much that by the time I queued up the linguini with clams, everyone was three sheets to the wind and practically dipping their grubby little fingers into the bowl of pasta. Not from hunger, but from sheer confusion and heat stroke. Having said that, the meal was very well received and I felt like a true Italian serving 20 people from Ikea crock pots. The real kicker was throwing 4 bottles of champagne and gin into a slow cooker as Delmo, Sarah and Solara danced around my kitchen like wild things between the balloons, and sloshing it onto the roof to serve with a ladle. From there, it was all melted cupcakes and singing to Celine's "it's all coming back to me now" and pulling stringy hot hair out of each other's faces.
In the end we watched the heat lightning crackle overhead, toasted to our futures (known and unknown, all unknown really), and felt v excited about the celebrations ahead.
When I woke up on Sunday my only regret was completely neglecting the polaroid but considering we all looked like lobsters, it might have been for the best.
Raising a glass to Delmo + Davey - the fun begins.