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Menu

Appetizer

Crostini with goat cheese and smoked salmon

Soup

Gazpacho

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Main Course

Grilled baby octopus Ceasar salad

Garlic bread

Dessert

Lemon olive oil cake

Shopping List

Fruits and Vegetables
  • 2.5 pound of vine ripe tomatoes
  • 2-3 red peppers
  • 1 small/medium cucumber
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 red jalapeno or fresno pepper
  • 7 lemons
  • Parsley
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
Fish
  • ¼ – ½ pound peppered smoked salmon
  • 1 pound baby octopus
  • 2-3 anchovies (preferably, white)
Milk, Eggs & Cheese
  • Goat cheese, herbed preferred
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Eggs
  • Butter
Bread
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 ciabatta roll per person
Staples
  • Olive oil
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Peperoncino
  • Dijon mustard
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Powdered sugar
  • Sugar

Schedule

One Month PriorTwo to Four Weeks PriorOne to Two Weeks PriorOne Day PriorParty Day
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
1 monthDetermine date and timeDetermine the date of your party and consider the time of arrival. For example, if you plan to have an outdoor party, you need to think about sun angles, heat and also cold. Plan a time for your party that doesn’t put your guests in rush hour forever to get to your location.
1 monthInvite GuestsThink about the conversation; who will like each other; ensure you have a great mix of people with different interests. Invite your guests early; everyone has busy lives and at least 2 weeks in advance will ensure your preferred guests are available. Have back-ups in your mind in case some guests are not free.
1 monthInvite Guests and share informationBe sure to let your guests know pertinent information, such as dress and who else is attending. If you are having a casual al fresco dinner, your guests should know that a summer dress will be appropriate. Conversely, if you are doing a formal dinner, your guests may need to obtain an item for their wardrobe.
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
2 weeksRentals or new purchasesIf you need to rent any glasses, tables or purchase any new kitchen items for your party, do this now.
2 weeksYour attirePlan this now! If you want to buy a new dress or shoes, get this shopping trip out of the way.
2 weeksWine storeObtain your wine, cocktails or other spirits and non alcoholic drinks, such as tonics or mineral water. Chill white wine/champagne/beer now. Red wine can be slightly chilled the day of the party. Do you need ice? Make it or get it now if you have room in your freezer.
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
1-2 weeksPrep table settingPlan what linens you intend to use. Wash them if needed and iron. Set aside.
1-2 weeksCrafts for table settingAre you creating any crafts for your table setting, such as cutting a cork to insert a placecard? This can be done now.
1.5 weeksShare menuIf your guests are also foodies, feel free to share the menu with them! This will get them excited about your party but be sure not to change the menu afterward.
1 weekGrocery store/Farmers market – trip 1Obtain all ingredients that you can purchase now. Leave as little as possible until the last moment, but a big shopping trip a week before will help you get a lot out of the way.
1 weekCreate timelineAssuming your dinner starts at 6:30pm, use this schedule (add 15 minutes for late arrivals):
6:45-7:30 Crostini and cocktails
7:30-8:15 Gazpacho
8:15-9:00 Octopus
9:00-9:45 Orange olive oil cake
Adjust this schedule to fit to your start time.
During weekConversation planningHave some conversations ready to start, such as asking about current events in your community or around the world. Stay away from hot button topics like religion or politics unless you know the people well and you know what will happen when the topics are raised.
Day before the partyStepNotes
Day priorCookingMake ceasar salad dressing and gazpacho.
Day priorSet tableSet placemats, napkins, plates, cutlery, glasses and even empty water pitchers on table. This will also help you get excited for your party when you see your beautiful table! Did you create a seating chart? If you did, create placecards and set them now.
Day priorLast minute shoppingThis should only be for last minute fresh ingredients, such as bread and fish. If you are buying flowers, purchase these now, also.
Day priorFlower arrangementsThese can be arranged on your table and in your house now.
Day priorMusicSet up your playlist for the party. Make an inspiring and high energy one for yourself for prep, too!
Party DayStepNotes
MorningDessertMake your orange olive oil the morning of the party.
1:30-2:30Mise en PlaceDo ALL of your chopping and organize your ingredients according to courses. As mentioned earlier, don’t plan to do more than 1 part of the meal at the very last moment. Wash and dry the romaine.
2:30-3:30Set serving plattersSet up your serving platter for the crostini and line up all cups or bowls and plates you will be using in the area that you plan to serve and arrange the look the way you like. Have cocktail or wine glasses ready.
3:30-5:00Get yourself readyHopefully, you have given yourself enough time to go for a run; soak in the tub; or do whatever makes you feel special.
5:30Cook octopusThe octopus can be cooked and placed in the marinade until ready. Prepare your grill and have it ready to light. Butter garlic break and set aside.
5:30-6:00Cooking last minuteThis is the time to broil crostini but don’t place the goat cheese or salmon on top yet.
6:00Prepare cocktails/open wine for appetizersThis should be set up in the same area as your serving platters with napkins and utensils needed. Open wine bottles now and have cocktails ready.
6:15Finish crostiniTop each crostini with goat cheese and smoked salmon and crack fresh black pepper over the top.
6:25MusicTurn on playlist
ThroughoutTime yourselfUse a kitchen timer or some other mechanism to keep yourself on schedule during the courses. Set your timer according to the timetable below.
7:00-7:15TableQuietly excuse yourself while your guests enjoy the crostini. Pour wine serving with gazpacho course into glasses. Bring water pitcher to table and pour into glasses. If using any candles, light them now.
7:15-7:30Gazpacho prepServe the gazpacho in little bowls with a dollop of the vegetables on top. Call your guests to the table.
7:30-8:15Gazpacho courseEnjoy!
7:55-8:15Grilled Octopus Ceasar Salad and Garlic Bread prepQuietly excuse yourself and collect the gazpacho bowls, grill the octopus. The octopus only takes a few minutes to grill, so even if you use a gas outdoor grill, you have enough time without pre-warming. Toss the dressing over the salad and arrange the octopus on top. Broil garlic bread. Bring it to the table with fresh plates. If you are switching wine, bring the new wine to the table now.
8:15-9:00Grilled octopus courseEnjoy!
8:45-9:00Dessert prepAgain, quietly excuse yourself while collecting the ceasar salad plates. Either plate cake slice on individual small plates or bring cake on cake platter to the table and again, clean plates for your guests. If serving a port or an after dinner drink, bring this to the table now also.
9:00-9:45Dessert courseEnjoy!