The first time that Hal met most of my New York friends was at a Christmas party I hosted in my first Brooklyn apartment. It felt giddily celebratory for a lot of reasons–I finally had an apartment suited to having a party, I was living in Brooklyn and so much closer to so many of my lovely friends, and I was dating a guy I was really excited about. And, of course, it was a chance to make my favorite treats for some of my favorite people, something absolutely love to do. Hal and I moved in together the following September, and since then we’ve hosted three Christmas parties together (plus a house warming, a baby shower, a rehearsal dinner, and a birthday fete here and there), the last just yesterday. And I still love making my favorite treats for my favorite people. So much so that I’ve developed a pretty set menu for our snacky desserty parties.
Some people have a way in the kitchen. They don’t need recipes, they don’t need culinary school, they just have a gift. My aunt, Joan Wolford, is one of those people. If you’ve ever had a spoonful of her soup or a drop of her salad dressing, you know what I mean. Her food is indulgent but balanced, familiar but special. She’s the founder, owner, and Executive Chef of Savoir Fare in Round Hill, Virginia, a restaurant and catering firm that has significantly raised the bar for quality cuisine in Loudoun County. Joannie, as we call her in the family, has built a successful, resilient career. She has a legion of devoted regulars, she’s made countless brides ecstatic, and her creativity is boundless. She also happens to be my favorite chef.
Way back in mid December, I hosted my first Christmas party. I finally have an apartment with room for a tree and storage for my Christmas decorations (ornaments, a collection of mini trees and a n assortment of deer–I’ve got a whole thing going), and decided to celebrate that by having my favorite people over for snacks and drinks. My menu was a sweet and savory combo: Smitten Kitchen’s brown butter rice crispy treats (my go to for any party, whether hosting or attending), the chocolate crunch bars Laura and I each made, frozen pigs in a blanket from Trader Joe’s, some token veggies, and three of my favorite family party recipes–deviled eggs, cheese wafers, and red pepper jam with cream cheese. One of my friends, who knows just how to flatter a girl, took one look at the food and said, “it’s like Virginian dim sum!” At that moment I knew that whatever else happened, I would consider the party a success.