Girls Weekend in Wine Country

We never get invited to Girls weekend. I think the reason is obvious.  But when you are invited to cater dinner, you can get an inside track.  This would be a bit of a test of our abilities and flexibility, as there were a few twists and turns to be navigated.

The idea started, as many things do, at the dentist…  Shawn was asked if he would be interested in catering a meal for a girl’s weekend. We didn’t know how many people, but it would be less formal, with a good group of people and the place they had rented looked great.  The menu planning was coming along, but then came a few bumps…  One vegetarian, well that was not an issue, since there would still be lots for her to eat. Then we were informed of a few dislikes and altered the menu accordingly.  The big monkey wrench came just a few weeks before the event.  The owners of the house the girls had rented had been sold.  This left them scrambling to find a new spot, not only to eat, but to stay for the weekend.  They ended up finding a lovely spot, but we were going in without knowing what to expect. the house was practically brand new. would they have enough cookware, serving pieces, or even plates???  Much of our menu was slated for the barbecue and we could not confirm until the day before, if one existed.  We had to have a backup plan for almost everything.  How would it all workout?  Well we took everything that we might need, including borrowing some serving pieces from Steph, some nice disposable plates and cutlery, and some of our own pots and pans.

We received news that they had found a barbecue in the garage, so we should be fine…. Or were we.  We found the house, without issue (there were enough vehicles in front, so we knew which one it was.) The guests were off on a bus tour, so we had the place to ourselves to get set up. The appliances were nice, and lots of space to work with, so things were looking up.  Once we unloaded and reconnoitered the area, I immediately located the grill.  We moved it to the deck, hooked up the tank and…. well not much of anything.  Tried with a lighter, but no luck.  Shawn mentioned that while carrying the tank it was light.  I remembered a gas bar around the corner, so went off to swap the tank. With a full tank and the smell of propane imbuing the air, I lit the flame, which promptly blew itself out….  Finally I took the BBQ apart and reassembled it properly, did a quick adjustment and lo and behold, we have made fire!!!  Just in case I left it burning on low, which also got rid of the new BBQ smell.

When the guests arrived, we opened to door to a loud scream, from the lady who was trying to get the key out of the lock box attached to the door handle and 14 women, each carrying a case of wine and other purchases.  We then helped them carry in the rest of their bounty from the day. Our quiet prep time went up a few much-needed decibels, the boom box that up until this time had been underused playing light jazz, was commandeered to play the hits of the 80’s, 90’s and now, and the wine and bourbon began to pour. Finally it was starting to seem like a party, and about time too.

This was not just a bus tour, but a wine tour, with food pairings.  Our guests started drinking at 11 AM and many had been nibbling all day.

This of course raised the question of “Will anyone be hungry?”  Luckily they were primed and ready for their meal. Once the guests had settled in to the living room, and other parts of the house, with either a glass of wine or a Mint Julep, we served the appetizer from the coffee table, savoury rosemary parmesan Madeline, warm gougere piped with Mornay sauce and fresh crostini with homemade fig jam, goat cheese, fresh figs and thyme.

It seems we worried for nothing…  The crostini was such a big hit that we had to whip up another platter on the fly.  We just love when people appreciate what we do. Which brings me to an amusing anecdote. Originally we had planned to drop the dog off for the day, but once we decided to stay the night and the ever resourceful Shawn found a pet friendly hotel, we brought the little guy along. the truck was packed with foodstuffs, and when making a quick stop,  a baguette slid off the cooler and into the back seat.  I made a mental note to put it back, when we stopped…..  Our first stop was to visit Shawn’s parents to wish his Dad a happy Father’s Day. I went back to the truck to move the bread, only to find over a third of a loaf missing.  Enzo would not touch the food in the back of the truck, but when it is laying on the seat, next to his bed, he probably thought it was a nappy time snack.  He didn’t even look guilty.  Luckily right behind that gas bar, where I got the propane, was a grocery store, so we could replace the baguette, and we needed it too.

By this time one of the ladies was lying flat on the floor and another was doing charades using only a scarf, to act out the clues, and doing surprisingly well at it.

The original plan was to serve the salad course separately, but with space constraints, we decided to go for it and serve all at once.  The main was a grilled caesar salad, with a homemade dressing, with rosemary bread sticks, grilled chicken ballotine, stuffed with spinach and apricots, Tri-colour farfalle, with peas and fava beans in a cream sauce and veggie kebobs.

The salad was such a huge hit, we should have made more. We made up for that with the amount of chicken and pasta we prepared.  Chicken Ballotine is a de-boned chicken, all except the leg bone, the 2 halves are separated and each is rolled up around a filling.  Shawn asked me how many one chicken would serve, I responded thinking how much one “Ballotine” would serve. Shawn took me at my word and prepped almost double what I was thinking.  We had delicious leftovers….

I have often said that Shawn has a knack for organization. It has come in handy on many occasions.  With all of the prep for a larger group than we are used to, and a very small kitchen, Shawn started prepping desserts weeks ahead and hiding them in Steph’s freezer.  For once Steph did not find the hidden gems and partake of them, as far as I know.  All that had to be made for the event itself was the signature dessert, the Zucotto.  This along side homemade butter tarts, date squares and brownies, allowed for a selection of small bites.

When I saw one guest slice off a very thin piece of zucotto and eat it from her hand, because it had no calories that way, I knew it was a hit.  After joining our guests for a glass of wine, while they enjoyed their sweets, we cleaned up, packed up headed back to our hotel. This day did have a few challenges, but by being flexible and having a backup plan, we got through without too much difficulty.  We also had a great bunch of ladies, who hooted, sang, danced, drank and ate. We finally got invited to girls’ weekend and found out that it’s just great fun with friends.


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