Planning a backyard barbecue? Toss out those plastic chairs and leave the frozen hot dogs and hamburgers in the freezer. This year it's all about bringing indoor style and elegance outside, and skillfully preparing high quality or exotic ingredients on the grill.
Go gourmet or stay inside!
When hosting an upscale shindig the atmosphere is almost as important as food and drinks, so don't neglect it! Think of a theme for your event and then ensure that it is reflected in all of the major aspects of your evening. An island theme is popular and easy to achieve. It can be as high-end as your taste dictates-think five-star-plus luxury resort on a private island.
Luxury is where it's at
For an island vibe consider booking a steel band to entertain and having your limbo stick at the ready. Fluff the mulch in your flower beds and mow the lawn 48 hours before your soiree. Avoid doing yard work the day of the event as this will stir up dust and pollen. Any guests who are prone to allergies will appreciate this gesture-it's hard to enjoy gourmet treats when you can't stop sneezing and scratching!
Stake out a serene area to set up your dining table. Stay away from trees, shrubs and flowers as they tend to attract critters. Make sure you have enough comfy chairs for all of your guests at the dining table and then consider placing the odd bench or armchair around your property for guests to sit and enjoy the aroma of the fabulous feast that awaits. String some lights and place some citronella candles in areas guests will congregate. For good measure hang giant incense coils from tree limbs to keep the bugs and insects away.
A few hours before your guests arrive it's time to print off menus to showcase the evening's gastronomic offerings and to create small floral arrangements for each place setting. This is also the time to make sure beverages are chilling and meats have been marinated.
As your guests begin to arrive be sure to have your aperitifs ready to be served. Anything goes in the way of before-dinner drinks but as a general rule you should try to keep them light and refreshing as they are meant to stimulate one's appetite. Champagne is always an excellent choice.
May I tempt you with hors d'oeuvres?
You wouldn't consider hosting a fancy dinner party without fabulous appetizers - so why would you throw a gourmet barbecue without them?
In keeping with an island theme, throw some skewers on the barbie. I suggest shrimp, scallop and lime or steak and shitake mushroom kebabs. Offer your guests a sauvignon blanc to accompany the shrimp, scallop and lime skewers or a cabernet sauvignon for the steak and shitake mushrooms.
And for the piece de resistance
Here are a few sure-to-be-a-hit pairings:
- Flatten, jerk chicken with grilled vegetables brushed with olive oil. This dish is very spicy so be sure to have lots on non-alcoholic beverages on-hand.
- Kobe-style steak with herb and garlic potato wedges. This high-end steak tends to have a lot of marbling. For best result do not grill the steak beyond a medium-rare, five or six minutes on each side should do the trick!
- Grilled lobster with grilled peppers stuffed with tomato-infused wild rice. Done right, grilled lobster will have a wonderful smoky flavor and is a lot easier to eat then traditional boiled lobster.
All of these pairings can be served with the ultimate island cocktail - rum punch! Rum punch is easy to make in large quantities and you can add seasonal fruits, juices and even carbonated beverages for extra kick.
Ice cream is so last year
Those in the know are throwing sliced peaches, nectarines and pineapples on the grill. It's more impressive than your traditional fresh fruit platter and it goes well with traditional after dinner digestifs.
Not all of your guests will appreciate fruit for dessert. For those who yearn for something a bit more decadent, present them with a warm chocolate cream cheese brownie drizzled with caramel and hot fudge and their choice of coffee or tea.
Be sure to check out Calgary Stampede: Celebrating 100 Years from Global News.