Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My epiphany in hosting...

One of my father’s most alluring characteristics is his ability to entertain. All of my favorite memories exist with him as host. Whether it be dinner at one of his restaurants or a party at our own home, the best of times are always had when dad takes over. Actually that’s not quite right, oftentimes even when he is not “the host,” you can find him serving up drinks and checking in to ensure that everyone is having a good time.

To me, a good host is someone who knows what a guest wants without them having to ask. It’s the ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease. In addition to those things, a good host makes an effort to do something special. His or her guests see a unique touch or special addition that was made just for them. A good host prepares a meal that is suited to their guest’s tastes, they may make a beautiful dessert. If they've thought ahead, they use fancy plateware and cloth napkins.

Recently, Alex and I were invited over to a friend's for dinner. The couple are newlyweds and therefore swimming in household items from their wedding registry. It was the first time I'd been to their home and I was quite excited to see how it looked. Alex had helped them build furniture and we were both anxious for a tour. When we arrived, I immediatly knew they put effort and time into planning and preparing our evening. Their dining room table was set beautifully with precisly matched plateware and utensils. Candles were lit, and they had pre-prepared all the food so they were able to spend time with us, not just in the kitchen. It was the first time I'd experienced such thoughtfulness and it was truly wonderful.

Normally when Alex and I have people over, my major goal is to prepare a meal that everyone will enjoy. I believe that that's the marking of a sucessful dinner parties. However, afer our evening with friends, I now realize that there are other gestures that create lasting memories and can show, just as well as food, that you care.

Last weekend Alex invited several couples over for dinner. I was excited to have something to work on and plan as work has been pretty slow the past few weeks. However, as things unfolded it seemed only one couple would be able to attend. While I didn't have much to coordinate it turned out to be a good thing as I realized we only have four matching plate sets.

Alex requested chinese food and I thought it would be fun for us to make summer rolls. I assumed that they would be difficult but actually were simple. We bought pre-cut carrots and cabbage so there was hardly any work at all. Rolling the ingredients was my favorite part of preperation, and the reason I'll likely make them again. It was great to have an activity that kept Alex in the kitchen with me, and the healthy results were an added bonus.

The meal started with spicy shrimp and chilli-garlic sauce. For dinner I made chicken lo-mein to serve with the spring rolls. Dessert was rum cake and carrot cake, courtesy of our guests. All in all it was a wonderful evening and we can't wait to host again.