One of our main philosophies, learned from mother dear, is that if you take the stress and performance out of entertaining and just “have people over,” you have more fun. We always keep it casual at our place. One dish in the oven, people gathered around the kitchen island, enjoying a few simple appetizers, a bowl of nuts and a glass of decent white wine. This is how we roll and we don’t often deviate to anything fancier than that. But recently I was reminded that there’s something to be said for old-fashioned entertaining too.
After a Friday night in Pennsylvania, Andy and I were about to head back to the city when Mom said “We’re going to Art and Terrie’s for dinner tonight.” Art and Terrie are our friends cum family that live in Connecticut and so of course there is an open invite for Andy and me too.
Hours later the four of us arrive at Art and Terrie’s house and I’m glad we dressed up. Art is in a crisp, pink plaid shirt and slacks. Terrie looks stunning in a grey dress with gold jewelry, hair perfectly coiffed. We are offered anything from the bar or pink champagne (who says no to champagne?). We enjoy light hors d’oeuvres, including a four-cheese pate that has been molded and topped with toasted walnuts. It’s so gorgeous, Dad thinks it’s dessert.
In the kitchen I can see that everything is made or ready to put in the oven. No frantic, last minute preparations. We are not roped into setting the table. That was done hours ago. Most tables are set. Terrie’s table has been laid – it’s gorgeous. China, silver, beautiful water and wine glasses and a winter floral centerpiece fashioned by the hostess. To say nothing of the rest of the house, which looks like it has been holiday decorated by Martha herself.
We enjoy Oyster Bisque (so rich and delicious the table was noticeably quiet for five minutes), followed by a salad with cranberries, avocado and red onion. Art and Terrie are the kind of hosts who make sure your glass is never empty and who don’t want you to lift a finger when you come to their house. They clear the dishes and plate up the main course: succulent beef tenderloin and dauphinoise potatoes. After dinner we sit by the roaring fire and exchange gifts while we enjoy that last glass of a Spanish red wine. We don’t even have to go back to the table. Dessert–French Silk Pie–is delivered to me on the couch.
I love the casualness of “having people over,” and losing the stress and performance means that we can do it more often. But Saturday night I was reminded that, once in a while (and especially for the holidays), it’s nice to be entertained. Terrie is obviously a natural—didn’t break a sweat. And Art is a great sidekick. I was in awe of this duo who made even old-fashioned entertaining look effortless. It’s not of course, but that’s the gift. In all they do, great entertainers say essentially this: “Come in. Everything is ready for you. We’ve worked and worked and cleaned up all the messes, showered at the last minute, lit the fire and put on the music. All so you can relax and share our hospitality. Sure, it was a lot of work. But you’re worth it, and together tonight, what we share is worth it.” That’s the gift we received from Art and Terrie this Christmas.
They also gave us these awesome Three Many Cooks chef’s jackets.