Afternoon drinks party in Chilham
A moving occasion…
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of catering a farewell party. It was for a woman for whom I’ve done a number of parties over the years in a beautiful and historic house in Chilham and it’s always a lovely location to work in. What was odd on this occasion was that the house was completely empty having been packed up into moving boxes and taken away. I thought that it might not feel very nice in there when it was stripped of all the contents, but amazingly it still felt nice and homely! Fires were blazing in two of the fireplaces and it still had a welcoming feel which was greatly added to when the guests arrived. The lack of furniture did bring complications though as there was no obvious place to set out the food, so it ended up on the floor to ceiling bookshelves in the kitchen! I’ve never laid out food on bookshelves before but actually I thought it looked quite good!
The brief for the party was finger food (as no plates or cutlery in the house!) and the suggestions from the host were pizzas and grazing platters. Consequently I decided to make a couple of pizzas (posh Margarita with sundried and fresh tomatoes, sundried tomato pesto and mozzarella and then Italian salami with the sundried tomato pesto and mozzarella on the other one); a couple of tarts (basil pesto, roasted courgette and pea for one and sundried tomato pesto, roasted red peppers and feta cheese for the other); 2 boards of cold meats including some lovely Wiltshire ham glazed with Dijon mustard and brown sugar; a cheeseboard with grapes and mixed crackers; some breadsticks and vegetable crudités along with a large selection of dips – guacamole, hummus, tzatziki, basil pesto and tomato pesto) and then some olives and feta cheese and that kind of thing. I also made some baklava (a first for me) as a little sweet bite to finish. You might have spotted a bit of a Mediterranean theme and you’d be right. It was a farewell party because the host is emigrating to Cyprus where she has been mainly living and working for the past couple of years, so I thought I would include a few Mediterranean and Greek items on the menu. It seemed to go down well so that was good.
What I thought was really lovely was that as well as being a farewell party, it was also a welcome to the village party because the host invited the new owners so that they could meet the neighbours. She said that when she and her husband moved into the house 37 years ago, the previous incumbents did that for them. How nice!
As an additional little story, my hairdresser comes from Cyprus and she and her family still have a home there and visit regularly. They have a number of olive groves and when they went over in October/November they harvested their olives and took them to be cold pressed and made into some excellent extra virgin olive oil. When I had my hair cut last week I was able to buy a bottle of this special oil and then I used a little here and there on the food for the farewell party – a little taste of home from home for the host.