Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rooftops and Cocktails

I've lived in my apartment building for several years now. It's a lovely place with friendly doormen who actually open the door for me and, if my hands are full, they push my floor for me on the elevator panel. The lobby is pleasingly reminiscent of a Turkish hammam (or at least the mosaic arched ceiling is) and our apartment is adjacent to the access stairs to the well appointed roof deck.


But perhaps because my apartment lacks sufficient closet space, central air and windows in the bedroom, I sometimes forget what a nice place it really is. It takes the perspective of an outsider, a friend walking in for the first time remarking on what a nice building I live in, to remind me of that truism. And as I've been doing quite a bit of entertaining at home lately, I've not only been feeling remarkably connected to my friends, but also unusually positive about my living situation. So as much as I love a truly good restaurant meal, lately I've been preferring whatever it is I can gather together to eat and drink at home with friends.


And frankly, during the week that isn't much...cocktails and finger food on the roof are about all I can muster after a day at work. But no matter, I've discovered that, appropriately done, this low effort route can be just as delicious and satisfying as a full meal.


Based on recent experience, a combination of cheese, meats, crackers, dips, something piquant, something fresh and something sweet will satisfy just about any crowd. Oh, and booze of course.

For cheese I like a soft and a semi-hard cheese (lately it's been Robiola and whatever semi-hard the guy at Di Palo's gives me...Prima Donna works if you don't have access to Di Palo's). For meat I like a salami, a silky prosciutto cotta and if you have non pork eaters, a bresaola. Crackers I don't feel that strongly about. Sometimes I'm very loyal to Ak Maks, other times I like Bretons...but NEVER original water crackers. I cannot fathom why such a boring cracker was ever created.


Dips/spreads...buy, make, whatever, as long as they're tasty and something other than hummus. Although one tip I have discovered is that fewer people than I thought like chicken liver pate if that is at all helpful. For the piquant, I'm currently obsessed with pickled sour cherries but cornichons will do in a pinch. And something fresh? Cherry tomatoes are my current go to, but that is mostly because I got the most unbelievably sweet batch in my CSA box last week and I felt compelled to share them with everyone who crossed my threshold. My something sweet is unfailingly David Lebovitz's Pain d'Amande cookies.


As for drinks...you can of course get fancy and mix cocktails, and assuming a moderately advanced skill level I'm sure that your friends will be quite appreciative. But I find that sticking to a white wine (Gruner, Vinho Verde or Sauvignon Blanc for hot summer weather), beer and a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water fits the bill quite nicely as well, and takes a fraction of the effort.


So go forth and impress your friends with your extraordinary hosting abilities and enjoy the added benefit of lifted spirits. No need to mention to anyone that they're getting the "low effort" cocktail party. They'll never know. And even if they did, it wouldn't matter. Friends are friends, and in the end, everyone just wants to spend time together, regardless of how big of an effort is made.

14 comments:

Kay said...

nothing better than good food, wine and friends all rolled into one....enjoy!!!! :)

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Laura, It looks fabulous. great friends...who love you for you..

Perfect !

Your place in New York sounds wonderful...I dream about living there...I am so far away.....

I'llcheck back later.
Best,
Kary

Laura [What I Like] said...

Kay - Yes, I couldn't agree more...a nearly holy trinity!

My Farmhouse Kitchen - How funny, I dream of living somewhere that I could grow cornstalks! The grass is always greener I suppose...

Jane said...

How divine. Pre dinner food - I love it. So do all my male friends!! Especially the meat and cheese. I agree with you about chicken liver pate and it goes funny when left out on a platter for two long. We have been eating a lot of wasabi peas and indian spiced peas. Gross but very nice with beer or a glass of reisling!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Laura, that is so funny about greener grass....what town in the bay area were you from. I have family in Danville, San Anselmo and Ross.I grew up in Los Gatos.
Do you know Los Gatos? Right before you would take highway 17 to go to Santa Cruz.....

Kary

Kristin said...

That sounds heavenly. I so miss living in a city city! Not so much rooftop dining going on in Tampa. Sigh.

wild thyme flowers said...

Hey Laura, I agree, there is nothing better than great friends, fabulous food, nice wine and fun music. I only wish I had a rooftop in NYC....sigh....However, Laura, for your next soiree, you must try (as an appetiser) triple Brie cream cheese (preferably local or from La Belle province Quebec,) served on organic fruit and nut toasts and drizzled with the loveliest local summer honey you can find. (I bet that's really easy in NYC). Your guests will feel so spoiled and loved. And it's so easy ! No cooking, just great artisan stuff ! Love your blog!

Laura [What I Like] said...

Jane - Oooh...Indian spiced peas sound absolutely wonderful! And you are quite right about the men liking the meat and cheese, it has been quite a hit!

Kary - I grew up in Oakland, and yes, I actually know Los Gatos quite well (along with the other places you mention)! I used to do crew in high school and we always used to race against Los Gatos. No wonder I enjoy your blog so much, you are clearly a kindred spirit!

Kristin - There is certainly something to be said for lovely weather and easy access to non-Rockaway beaches though, you must admit...

wild thyme flowers - That sounds absolutely fabulous! And yes, rooftop beekeeping is actually becoming quite the thing here now so there are lots of options for wonderful honey. And barring rooftop bees, my favorite store, SOS Chefs, has an entire wall of honey to choose from. Thanks so much for the wonderful tip!

JennyMac said...

Bravo on great friends, vino, and cocktails!

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Laura, your "low effort" cocktail parties sound wonderful. And you've got the great setting doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of wow factor. Low key parties like this put everyone at ease, creating a fun, relaxing vibe. And they don't intimidate friends, so they're more likely to reciprocate with their own parties, also a good thing.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

When I do that, I feel like I am getting away with something deliciously naughty..and I love it.

A World in a PAN said...

Do you know anyone who says they have enough closet space???? You place sound great.

Laura [What I Like] said...

JennyMac - Yes, life has been treating me well lately!

Terry B - Yes, I am lucky with the setting...and I do always enjoy the reciprocity!

Mel - I know right?! It's like when someone goes on and on about how good a dish is and it's only taken twenty minutes to make. Wonderful.

A World in a Pan - True, I suppose. Maybe Mariah Carey has enough? I seem to remember watching a cribs episode and her closet looked like a store. But point taken.

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