It’s the holiday season — that eagerly awaited time of year. Our days and nights are filled with great food, delectable aromas, feelings of warmth and goodwill — and, oh yes, parties. And this year, you pledged to host your own celebratory bash. Whether it be for the holidays, the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day, if all is going well with that decision, then congratulations. You’re probably a seasoned entertainer, or you’ve learned one of the most valuable tips of hosting a successful soiree — advanced planning.
But if you find yourself still in the coordination stage at the 11th hour, and you’re feeling stressed about it, we suggest you take a deep breath because we sought out advice from the experts. The first of several valuable tips for stress-free entertaining: Let the food and the warm feelings that come with it take the spotlight.
With cuisine as the star, not much else is needed. The team at Costa Mesa-based 24 Carrots Catering and Events suggests going buffet-style. It allows guests the freedom to select the food they want from various spreads. It also frees up the host to mingle and enjoy the party. Each buffet table can become a unique culinary destination.
You can choose traditional dishes, but the menu needn’t be boring. Head Chef Nick Weber believes in adding layers to old standards, giving them update and sparkle. Take, for example, his peppercorn-crusted prime rib, which is among 24 Carrots’ offerings. It’s served with creamy horseradish and rosemary au jus. The addition of the peppercorn crust on the prime rib, and the fragrant rosemary in the au jus elevates this traditional favorite with new textures and flavors. He also achieves this with his Chilean sea bass, served with a blood-orange and coriander butter sauce. A sweet maple glaze enlivens a traditional turkey breast dish, with the accompanying gravy boasting deep flavors of whiskey and herbacious thyme.
For appetizers, the team suggests going with finger foods as much as possible. Cheese and charcuterie platters are great choices, as well as Mediterranean mezze platters because they can sit out longer. An easy and oh-so delicious 24 Carrots menu item to recreate is the creamy caramel apple brie. And mini pot pies and butternut squash soup shooters are always crowd pleasers.
For libations, 24 Carrots suggests having specialty drink booths in addition to offering standard spirits and wines. With this, guests can have the option of adding alcohol or not. Popular stations include hot chocolate and hot toddy booths.
In the end, what’s a party without a take-home goodie bag? Another time-saving idea from the team is to hand out cute plastic bags and let guests fill them from the various spreads. They can load up on sweet treats from a dessert table, which might showcase rustic mini apple oat streusel pies and delicious butterscotch carrot cake Madeleines. So, here’s a toast to a wonderfully delicious season!