Clean Plates Party Prep, Take II: Dinner
May 25, 2012
“To invite a person into your house is to take charge of his happiness for as long as he is under your roof.” –Brillat-Savarin
Few things make me happier than throwing a dinner party. I create a warm, fun night with friends and serve delicious food I sourced myself. You can too, Angelenos! Here are tips to enjoying a great night.
Tip #1: If you eat meat, buy the best. You can cook it simply and it’ll taste fantastic. McCall Meat & Fish Co. is a friendly indie butcher that sells exquisite, occasionally organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats raised on traditional, humane farms. The seafood is impeccably fresh and wild-caught, or sustainably farmed. The owners worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and they (or their staff) will gladly answer your cooking questions.
Tip #2: Get as much produce from farmers markets as you can. There’s a reason chefs tout their seasonal menus: peak produce tastes the best, especially organic. At your dinner party you can easily serve local, ridiculously fresh food and directly support small local farms. Also, I find it harder to screw up such superb ingredients!
Tip #3: Buy actual, living herbs. Sunset Nursery has a huge selection of locally grown herbs. Need oregano? Get a plant. When the party’s over you’ll be cooking Italian for years. For dried spices, try Spice Station for the quantity you need— they’ll grind them, too. Penzey’s on the West Side also has excellent offerings.
Tip #4: Use good tools. Surfas is a restaurant supply store that sells great kitchen equipment (and superior chocolate) at reduced prices; the staff’s knowledge rivals most chefs. Field Theories sells modern, durable, California-made aprons of recycled waxed canvas.
Tip #5: Know your limits. You’re not required to cook everything from scratch! Start the meal with three fabulous, vegan Mediterranean mezzes from the Larchmont Farmers Market. Cook the entree and a side dish yourself. For a sweet ending, Native Foods sells organic vegan desserts everyone will polish off.
Then do the most important part—enjoy yourself! Gathering friends and family to break bread (or carrots) together spreads love and good cheer, from the first bite to the final clean plate.
But what about cocktails, you ask? Check out our handy guide here.