Friday, March 01, 2013

Oscar Party Insight

Hey guys, sorry in advance about my photos, these are iphone photos from 1/2 hour into the party.  This is the reality of throwing a real party and not having a photographer come over and stage your dining room table for a pretend party and you can tell it's a fake party because there's not enough food, there's like 5 petit fours and a bowl of jordan almonds.  Ok, ok, maybe I'm a little too worked up over the supposed "party blogs" who aren't throwing actual parties.

At my parties the food isn't even ready when you show up.  If I'm lucky I already have the platters out and arranged how I want them with little cards on them that say what goes where.  I didn't even get that far this time and other folks placed things on the table for me.  No staging here, I'm afraid.  I wasn't done cooking until 1/2 hour into the party and then everything sort of looked like this.  Sigh.  Note to self: you need different salt and pepper shakers for parties.  The Costco ones aren't feeling the vibe here.

My black and white striped runner is from etsy, I would have had to buy a long piece of fabric and then sew it myself, I don't think I would have saved money doing it myself.  Be careful if you go this route because some people just sew a zig zag stitch down the side and not really hem the fabric.  This one is hemmed. I have French flags in my vase, you can kind of see it.  I bought a bunch of flags to make a garland or something but couldn't figure out how I wanted it so I just stuck two in the vase.  My napkins are totally hidden but they have macarons on them.  They are very cute.

No one eats tossed salad at parties.  At least I didn't buy a fancy salad dressing container.  No more salads at parties for me.  That little bowl of raspberries behind the salad, big hit!  Also fruit was huge last year when I did fruit kabobs.  I have to remember that.  That cute silver star confetti is all great until it's time to clean up. I'm still finding little silver stars everywhere.  I usually use small plates and will in the future.  I used large plates because I thought people would have their salad and then their quiche on the same plate.  I don't know why I thought this, probably because that's how it's served at a restaurant.  Like one person ate the salad, it might have been my husband.

If you want sources on anything ask me in the comments and I'll get them for you.  Same with links to recipes.  Most are on pinterest but I'd be happy to put them here too.

I've been waiting a few days to write this post because really I wasn't sure what I wanted to say.  Part of me thinks that might have been my last Oscar party and part of me thinks with some changes I would go again.

I can't really even pinpoint what stressed me out so much with this party.  Wednesday before the party we had like 5 people who were going to come and our closest friends weren't coming and no one from work was coming (I really felt like Michael Scott, in a bad way) and I really just wanted to cancel the whole thing.  It takes a lot of work to pull this off, I knew I had 2 days of prep in front of me and I didn't want to go through it when guests were dropping like flies.  It's a sucky feeling when you feel like people don't want to come to your party.  So keep that in mind if you like your friends and they ask you to a party, especially a themed party or something more than, "hey we were going to invite a couple folks over and have some chips and dip, wanna come?"  I'm talking about when someone gives you a hand made invitation, it's a big deal when invitations are involved.

Brian rallied and next thing I knew we had 12 people coming.

The next thing that happened was we went grocery shopping.  Keep in mind that I had a French themed party in mind and all my recipes were very french.  The bill came to $250!  I was expecting like $150, $250 just seemed nuts to me.  That's over $20 per person, crazy.  I looked over the bill to see what I could have cut out and dropping the crab quiche would have been a big help but it still would have been over $200, and I don't know if 1 quiche would cut it for 12 people.  Next time and every time from here on I'm going to have a better idea of how much I'm about to spend.

Then on Saturday I started baking.  I was four hours into baking with no breaks and I had not even completed one dessert.  I had 2 desserts almost finished (the macarons and the eclairs) but nothing was completed.  By 10pm that night I had 3 desserts done and all my sauces.  That about 8 hours of solid cooking and I still had Sunday.

Sunday it was time to get dressed and I didn't think my dress was appropriate but it matched the party and it fit me and Brian said it was fine and I should wear it so I did and I was miserable.  I was so uncomfortable and I knew the stupid dress wasn't age appropriate and none of the other girls even dressed up.  I felt pretty ridiculous.

I had test ran Macarons two other times making about 4 or 5 batches total and though my cookies tasted fine, they were a beautiful robins egg color before they were baked and came out like a brownish green and I was pissed.  I still am not sure how to fix that a) cook them less, I think maybe I'm overcooking my macarons or b) use a powder-based food dye instead of the gel so I can get a more powerful color post-baking.  I really thought I had them perfect this time, I would have taken a photo before popping them in the oven if I knew they were going to brown out.

The recipe I used for the crab quiche called for too much crab and that was pretty much all you could taste.  It was still okay but not what I was going for.  And crab is expensive and I'm not sure if the expense is worth it. The other quiche was 10x better and way less money.

And now for the good:

Oh my god, I made mini-croque monsieur and they were divine, so unbelievably tasty.  Instead of using mustard since I don't like mustard and Brian is finicky with mustard I used extra bechamel sauce to coat both sides of the bread and again on top and it was so delicious.  These are high high maintenance sandwiches, I wish I could serve them at every party but they take way too long.  But for small affairs, these are going on the menu.  I really want to try them with country ham.  I feel like it might be the best thing ever made.

The quiche Lorraine was really really good.  I am definitely using that recipe again.

The mini-eclairs were very good.  A lot of work, I mean a lot of work, but they were cute and could be done before hand and tasted very good.  My American palate wants the custard filling to be slightly more sweet and the chocolate dipped a second time and I would make these again using those modifications.  Really good.  Look how cute they are, little fat things.

I still want to try to get the macarons right, that's saying something.  You haven't defeated me yet, French pastry!

I really like picking a theme and going with it and if I stop having Oscar parties I won't get to try this again.  Part of me is thinking, let's just see what movies are nominated next year and what sort of menu I might want to try.

So, I'm thinking this is my last Oscar party but I'm not 100% sure.

Oh, I almost forgot, 3 of my dishes used Gruyere cheese (at $12 a pound) and though tasty, Gruyere is not something we eat every day.  I would not recommend having Gruyere dominate the menu.  It's smelly and the smell sticks around, despite soap or open windows.  Just keep that in mind.  It's a two day post party commitment of EVERYTHING, AND I MEAN EVERYTHING smelling like Gruyere.  One dish, okay, three dishes, too much.  Trust me on this one.


  1. Dude, this party look amazing. I have felt all those party stresses myself, I feel your pain. It's almost like you have a picture in your head but to pull it off and cook all the food is more work than one person can pull off alone and a guy can't really help with that much because they don't get it.
    But I LOVE the striped table runner and the colors! It all looks so cute together. And your macarons look beautiful to me!
    I am just sad I did not get to come to this party, it's fantastic.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. It's exactly like having a picture in your head and trying to make it into a reality is nothing like you think it's going to be. I hate asking Brian to help because I ask him to vacuum and then I have to be like, and can you do it pretty soon because I have to steam mop when you are done and then a few minutes later, like remind him again. Guys don't like that but I really do have to steam mop!

  2. I love everything about this party and wish I'd been invited so I could have tried out one of everything AND helped with the post-event clean up. I never even have anyone over, much less throw a party at our house - I'm just too ashamed about the awfulness of our mismatched, messy everything.

    1. Denise, trust me, if you lived anywhere close to me you'd be invited. I would have LOVED that because I could ask you if my house smelled like stinky cheese and you would have told me because that's what friends do. You can't let your ashamedness (totally a word I made up) stop you from entertaining. I live in the hood and I throw parties, if I can do that you can throw a get together for sure.