Sunday, April 13, 2008

Entertaining Om-Style

O.G.’s B.F.F. recently had her first baby (my god-son) and celebrated her first birthday as a new mom. Given the happy chaos that comes with a newborn, I felt it my duty to host a fabulous fete fit for all—mom, baby, her single pals in the city, fellow young moms with little ones, and one mom whose lovely little girl is no longer very little but, instead, a somewhat smaller but equally insightful and joyful companion to all of us. It’s an inspiring collection of women, who all intersected, at various stages, in a yoga studio. Husbands and boyfriends, though loved dearly, were banished for the day.

Past celebrations for my friend have included trips to Miami, elaborate dinners at uber-cool Boston restaurants, and chilled champagne sipped on Miami Beach or at an uber-cool Boston restaurant. So, what I’m saying, here, is that the bar was set high, in my mind, at least. My friend insisted that anything resembling the merriment of the past was unnecessary. Nevertheless, I was determined to create a party that reconnected her with her pre-baby, sociable self, while being mindful of the new set of circumstances—you know, the kind that require stroller parking, meltdown management capabilities, and lightning quick access to a diaper-changing area, napping area, sink, trashcan, etc. Plus, I had a limited budget, so annexing a chic restaurant for the day was out of the question, not to mention asking a nice waitress to wash off the pacifier that would, likely, fall, err, be thrown on the floor, thirty-two times in the span of two hours. (This is an approximation, of course). So, I started with what I knew, which was the following:

Come hell or high water; there would be champagne.

Not because this group needs champagne or imbibes more than two glasses, each, at a pop (yogis are notorious for having extremely low tolerance levels), but because it says something festive and celebratory about an occasion. It’s a perfunctory way of saying, “You may have traded in that sassy handbag from Saks for one that schleps diapers, but you are still a sparkling, bubbly glamazon.”

Next, I needed a menu that was easy [O.G.’s catering skills and time are limited], cost-efficient [O.G.s budget is slender], healthful [Om gals don’t do nachos, people], and fun. Check it out for yourself; post a comment if you’d like me to share any of the recipes:

Thai fresh rolls, which are fairly simple to make; however, in the interest of time, I ordered these two days in advance from Duc Boa in Brookline.

A massive garden salad, served in my signature, monstrosity of a salad bowl by Isaac Mizrahi for Target. It’s huge, hip, and always a hit at parties.

Veggies and peanut dip, from our favorite non-militant vegan friend.

Brown rice, made while in the shower and racing around in attempts to make myself and the apartment look presentable and, if possible, fabulous.

Cornmeal encrusted chicken tenderloins, either served atop the salad or dipped in mustard (the kid-friendly choice).

Fruit salad, courtesy of a yoga teacher pal via Whole Foods.

A vegan tofu chocolate pie, made the night before, in a flash; it tastes completely divine. Even my foodie friend who authors the blog Dish This Boston would approve. Right hand raised, “Swear.”

No Pudge brownies, baked in heart-shaped tins and made especially for the birthday girl who shares my obsession with them- among other things, like, say, Diane Von Furstenberg frocks.

Lemon meringue pie, from High Rise Bakery in Cambridge, delivered by another yoga teacher pal.

Chocolate covered strawberries, also known as, "Heaven."

Finally, I wanted to customize a few elements to make the whole scene more entertaining and special, ideally, acting as a reflection of its guest of honor and the people who love her. Here’s what I decided to do:

Personalize a play list. This is an easy offering to any group of likeminded friends. Compile a CD that includes a little something for everyone and underscores the theme of the gathering. Decorating the CD’s cover adds an extra touch of creativity and color. I find clipping gorgeous images from travel or fashion magazines works best.

Select small yet meaningful parting gifts. I opted for seedlings in mini clay pots, which will yield basil, strawberry, or marigold plants in the not too distant future.

Enlist an expert, in this case, an ace psychic: Through the recommendation of a friend, we sought the astute services of Boston Intuitive for two hours worth of individual readings for each guest. A huge treat for all.

The Saturday afternoon, kid-friendly affair didn’t feature cuisine by celebrity chefs or extravagant gifts, but it was more nourishing than the former and enriching than the latter. If entertaining at home intimidates you, take a cue from the Zen-preserving options shared, here, and give it a whirl. Moreover, if your best friend tells you to skip the birthday fanfare, I encourage you to defiantly ignore her.


Dish This! said...

I would like the recipes to all of these! but in the interest of time, perhaps just the spring rolls. and the peanut dip. and maybe the desserts. hehe =)

thanks for the great post, Omgal!

Om Gal said...

Oh, the spring rolls are a blast to make! You need: rice paper, cucumbers, carrots, basil, vermicelli noodles, and shrimp/chicken/tofu (your choice). Cook the vermicelli; set aside. Shred carrots. Cut cukes, finely/matchstick.

Soak one sheet of rice paper at a time in warm-hot water, then, place flat on a flat/hard surface. Place basil, carrots, cukes, noodles, and protein in center. Fold edges, and roll tightly- like a delicate burrito. Serve cold. Dip in thai chili sauce.