If you’ve spent much time with Ed and me, you know that a long lunch is one of our favorite things. You would also know these long lunches involve wine! 🍷
Lunch with our friends, Leslie and JR, is a tradition we have enjoyed for as long as I can remember. No matter where we are … their home, our home, traveling … we always make time for a special lunch. Last week the four of us gathered on our porch for lunch, wine, and conversation. For three hours, we poured over lots of topics while Ed poured quite a bit of wine beginning with Laurent-Perrier, discovered together in France many years ago. We have been celebrating our friendship with this fabulous champagne ever since.
If you’ve been wondering how to gather with friends during COVID, I’d like to encourage you to consider a small lunch or dinner with good friends. While there is always a risk when we come together during this pandemic, it’s much easier to be careful and considerate, with four to six. It’s also much simpler to prepare, serve, and clean up! The best part though, is that a small group is more intimate with more meaningful conversation. With all the chaos swirling around us, we need this connection to the people we love more than ever.
Some things to keep in mind when trying to be careful
and considerate …
Try to entertain outdoors if possible, as we know this is safer. If your climate is warm, consider a few fans to move and cool the air.
Set a table that allows comfortable spacing or use trays making sure everyone has enough personal space.
Serve plates rather than a buffet.
Keep antibacterial wipes or spray where guests can access.
Place antibacterial soap and paper guest towels in the powder room.
Offer glass markers so everyone can put their names on their glasses.
Prepare hors d’oeuvre plates for each guest or couple.
Take care of bugs. Even if you’re not sensitive to mosquitoes, assume your
guests are. Spray before your guests arrive or use organic repellents.
If you watched the Paysage videos on my Instagram account, you saw that I mentioned a few of these ideas along with suggestions on how to stylishly create COVID safe gatherings. We can do this! We can continue to come together around the table with our loved ones! Yes, there is risk, and yet we can do our best to manage everyone’s exposure.
Even though I was only serving lunch for four, prepping and preparing in advance and having yummy things on hand made everything so … effortless!
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rose
2018 Kistler Vineyards
Les Noisetiers Chardonnay
2014 Louis Latour Vosne Romanee
2016 Tenuta San Guido
“Guidalberto” Toscana IGT
TIPS & QUIPS
Determine your menu in advance so you can plan and prepare, whether you’re cooking or ordering from your favorite local sources.
For the hors d’oeuvre, all that pimento cheese I have on hand came in handy! I added two of my favorite pantry staples: Bruce Julian Sassy Okra and Tillen Farms Pickled Crunchy Carrots. You’ll also notice one of my favorite crackers, Blue Diamond Artisan Nut Thins. I am liking gluten-free crackers not only because they work for all of our guests, but I find that they’re extra crispy.
For the salad course, I served heirloom tomatoes over one of only two bagged lettuces I will buy, Fresh Express Sweet Butter. The only other bagged lettuce I’ll buy is the Fresh Express Sweet and Crunchy. I had made Salsa Verde (see Shrimp and Scallops with Salsa Verde) so, I was able to easily create this special salad with what I already had.
For the main course, I served Top Hat Crab Cakes, which I had made that morning and had frozen. Since these crab cakes have very little filling and are chock full of white lump crab meat, freezing them for just a couple of hours before cooking helps keep them together.
I had made the Rice Salad in advance and I added a Corn and Cucumber Salad from our club. I added a bit of fresh thyme — yum! I plated the cold salads over lettuce so all I had to do was add the hot crab cakes as they came out of the pan.
Dessert was super easy too! Over the 4th I had made two extra batches of Lemon Bomb to have on hand. To make serving even easier, I pre-scooped so all I had to do was pop into dessert dishes. I served the Lemon Bomb with Hamlet Kitchen Ginger Crisps and Red Wine Truffles.