Boca Grande dinner hosts often eliminate stress by engaging costly caterers. Cost, fortunately, is not an issue when it comes to Gasparilla Island's monied homeowners.
But the one item catering lacks is the personable touches only friends can give one another when entertaining. Don't miss out on telling your friends they matter at meals in your home.
It's not required that a host slave over a hot stove or hand it off completely to an outside provider. There are other options.
A great theme for dinner parties is to draw every dish from “hearts of palm, Boca Grande cooks,” the terrific compilation of island dishes recently published by the Boca Grande Woman's Club.
Here are seven tips compiled from executive chefs on island and off to make dinner entertaining look easy and show your friends they mean something to you at the same time:
Prepare in advance. This allows you to give the gift of time to your friends at the party. Yes, you gain this advantage through catering, too, but again, it's less personable. Complete as much of food prep as possible in advance of guest arrivals. This eliminates last-minute mistakes, too.
Always offer hors d'oeuvres. Upon arrival, make sure to offer guests canaps as well as a drink. This keeps guests from becoming irritable and hungry. It also tends to ease the pressure on the alcohol budget.
Keep it simple. A simple dish done well is always impressive, less stressful and less likely to fail. A soup course is fast and easy but consider the season on Boca Grande. Salad wraps are fantastic any time. If there won't be more than four courses, be sure to serve bread, which is always good to soak up the alcohol and fill up the stomach.
Make it fun. Have a themed dinner. One of the most fun dinner parties I went to recently featured recipes all from "hearts of palm, Boca Grande Cooks," the terrific menu compilation from the Boca Grande Woman's Club. A good pot-luck dinner became a lost art as they fell out of favor as too blue collar or even cheap. But they have a number of advantages regardless of economic status. They are the least stressful meal possible.
Every couple can bring a course with the host handling the main dish. This allows guests to share the spotlight with the host, which can be fun, too. Request that guests stick to one theme. A subterranean-themed party, which refers to anything that is from under the ground (i.e. potatoes, yam, rabbit, truffle, etc.), is another great way to go.
Add an extra course. To make a menu seem longer, add a simple component such as a cheese or sorbet course. This will ensure guests are satiated at the conclusion of the meal.
Consider everyone. A refreshing non-alcoholic punch is a perfect option for those who don't drink alcohol, as well as for those who are driving.