26 May 2010

One trick pony

Jamie. Nigella. Delia. Tovey. I’m scanning the shelves for inspiration.

We’ve got the rellies coming down from Barrow tomorrow to join us for our 1st wedding anniversary weekend. They will be our very first house guests in our new home!

I’m thrilled to bits ... and panicked beyond belief. It will be my first time playing “hostess” to the family. More than anything, I want to get it “right.”

I rather wisely gave myself a bit of “dress rehearsal” last month, by inviting the Vicar, His Wife, Their Son and few other special friends for a “House Blessing” followed by lunch. Our friends, Julia and Robert, who moved away in January, came from Rutland to join us, and did our much beloved Sally.

It was a gorgeous day, the English weather did its part, and cooperated beautifully. We were able to have champers outside on the patio before the Blessing and lunch.

The Vicar led us all round the house for a traditional house blessing ceremony. To be sure, I’m one of those people for whom ritual and liturgy are very important. Ritual is of course the outward sign and expression of faith, physicalising the internal and invisible.

We all found the ceremony deeply moving, it was truly lovely as we progressed from room to room, celebrating the love and grace that has made this place our home.

After the little service, we had lunch. I was surprisingly calm, and well-prepared. The importance of planning, as the gurus do say! And, I actually enjoyed myself and didn’t feel harassed or overwhelmed.

This was due largely to the best piece of hostess advice I’ve come across recently:

Don't be afraid to be a 'one trick pony'.

Meaning, develop a meal that you do really well; one that you feel truly comfortable and confident creating. Then, roll it out again and again, and wow your guests every time.

Obviously, in time one would need to add more meals/dishes to your menu arsenal, if you are having the same guests over and over, but initially, what a super strategy!

And that is precisely how I approached the Blessing Lunch. Keep it simple. Stick with what you know.

So...my menu that day was Proscuitto and melon for starters; followed by Parmesan & parsley-crusted salmon, served with baby new potatoes and steamed asparagus, with a parmesan sauce. Lovely! Thank you BBC Good Food Guide.

The Vicar is a “crumble” fan, so for "pudding" I did a mixed berry crumble for him; and Sally brought along a gorgeous Sherry Trifle. Splendid.

Perhaps, leaving Jamie, Nigella and Delia aside once again, I should follow my own advice and continue in this vein for this weekend.

Though, I think I might branch out and tweak the BBC Good Food recipe slightly by using trout instead of salmon…

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