Maggy, Sharon, and I just got back from California where we spent a week preparing for and hosting our second annual Big Traveling Potluck in Murrieta, California. In the coming week we’ll share more photos and stories, but in the meantime, here’s a nugget from Friday night’s opening reception….
A chilly wind whipped through the parking lot as we loaded our food and serving things onto the cart for the opening night reception at Callaway Winery. This violent weather was not part of our plan. We were supposed to welcome our guests to a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres in the enclosed tasting room on the ground level, after which they would ascend to the upper deck at sunset for dinner and panoramic views of the vineyard.
Instead, we are welcomed by a wind so violent that Sharon, for fear that her dress will blow over her head, cannot even help unload. The reception in the enclosed main floor will be fine, but as I head upstairs to check out our dinner venue, I find a lone server attempting to lower clear plastic tarps to protect us from the bluster. Even they are not enough to keep the piercing wind from spoiling our party.
I look for Denise, our Callaway events coordinator. I’m told she’s trying to calm an inconsolable bride whose party is supposed to be heading outside for the ceremony of her life. This is not what she envisioned either. Her troubles are worse than ours. I wait patiently for instruction.
In the meantime, we busy ourselves setting up the reception. We build the Kerrygold cheese display, set up the Gourmet Garden spring dip, and assemble the Sabra Hummus dipping station, artfully arranging the grilled asparagus spears and fennel wedges, the steamed broccolette and roasted golden beets, the celery hearts, grape tomatoes, carrot and cucumber spears. It’s looking beautiful.
We stand back to admire, but our admiration turns to panic as someone sets the empty bowl in the middle of the display. We’ve left the hummus at home, thirty minutes away, and the buses with all our guests are ten minutes away. We call our host who has yet to leave for the party. She locates it and delivers it to us in Jason Bourne-like fashion. We are filling the bowl at the moment the crowd move towards the display.
As for our dinner, the sun sets and the wind dies, and as everyone comfortably sits around tables on the deck, no one knew of our weather worries or our hummus scare.
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and cut into large dice
- 6 large garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 container (17 ounces) plain hummus
- ¼ cup dill leaves
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
- Place fennel, garlic, olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and ⅓ cup water in a large covered skillet. Turn burner on high and cook until water has evaporated and fennel and garlic start to sauté, about 5 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until fennel and garlic are spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
- Transfer to a food processor and purée. Add hummus and dill; process to combine. Transfer to a bowl; stir in scallions. Serve with vegetables and crackers of choice.