It's finally a socially acceptable time to put up your Christmas decorations.
So we went a little nuts and decided to throw a party too. If you're hosting a Christmas party you need an amazing chef. And if you're having a special dinner then you need a spectacular themed table on which to serve it. So we brought in our fave Chef Scott Roberts to create the meal and visited The Home Depot for all our festive needs. In this post we're going to tackle a few things: The decor, the food, and the atmosphere.
There are so many directions you can go in with Christmas decor. Jo and I visited the Home Depot media preview a few weeks ago and got a chance to look at their entire seasonal lineup. We made note of all the things we loved, mainly these white reindeer that were so sleek and pretty. They stood out to us because we wanted a centerpiece that would fit with the design of my home. To us this meant lots of silver bulbs, abundant greenery, and a striking feature in the center - the deer. We visited The Home Depot in Leaside and went on a bit of a shopping spree. We ended up getting a couple packs of extra bulbs just in case and still came in under $150! We left with two reindeer, 6 bundles of fresh greenery, a set of flameless candles, and many packs of assorted ornaments.
You should try to decorate every surface possible. Any table, ottoman, or ledge is a space on which you can put ornaments and lights. You really can't go overboard with this. It's the one time of year that maximalism is encouraged, outside of Halloween. In fact Jo and I really regretted not buying mini lights to hang from everything as soon as we got back to my place. Damn it all! She arranged this cute centerpiece on the coffee table (she did the other one too) that served double duty by providing a warm glow and sparkle, the two pillars of Christmas decor. Flameless candles are fantastic and if you go to bed and forget to turn them off, which I did, it's totally cool. We filled a concrete flower pot with a mix of mandarin oranges and small silver bulbs but unfortunately we didn't get a photo. I can just tell you that it looked really cool and you'll have to take my word for it. No ledge was left untouched.
I have low tolerance for bad food. Bad food is a total waste of time, unless I'm already sitting around wasting time in which case it's just momentarily appropriate. A veggie tray is not an appetizer unless you're feeding a big crowd and need to get food in mouths in bulk. All of this is to say that Scott made a very elaborate meal out of totally unexpected ingredients and it was amazing. I asked if he could make turkey, naively thinking he'd be roasting a bird all day and using one of those giant eye-dropper basters. But no, instead he took each piece of the turkey and made it into its own unique dish. Everyone was surprised, and surprised people at a party usually means either a spectacle or a fire. I'm happy to say it was the former.
My favorite part about this meal was that I got to try some things that were new, that I rarely get to eat, and that I will probably never eat again. The whole meal was free from dairy, nuts, peanuts, and legumes. Sausage is something I tend to avoid because butchers often can't guarantee that there are no dairy products or other allergens. Packaged ones are less enticing but even if I were inclined it's still hard to find ones that are safe for me. I tried extra virgin canola oil, birch syrup, and pickled spruce tips for the first time. Extra virgin canola oil is so light and nutty, definitely adding to my pantry. And the thing that I tried once and will probably never have again was soubise, which Scott said is always made from butter and onions. He made his with a potato, onion, and a non-dairy fat. The taste will just have to live on in my memory.
Selection of Oysters, with Green Nam Jim
Honest Weight oysters/ Malpeque, Lucky Lime and Lamarque
Learn how to make Scott's Nam Jim here. Oysters are the perfect finger food for getting a party started and the sauce was sweet and spicy, adding a good kick of flavor.
Scott's pro tip: Source good ingredients.
High quality ingredients taste better, plain and simple. Do yourself a favor and find good quality meat and produce. Do not buy the Butterball turkey. Aside from it being literally injected with butter, just avoid the frozen turkey altogether. The oysters were from Honest Weight, and the turkey was from Bespoke Butchers. You can really taste the difference.
Turkey Wing, Rosemary Salt, Pine Mushroom, Pickled Spruce Tips
Have you seen the show Gone In Seconds? Next installment: turkey wings. The mushroom powder and spruce tips were a nice touch and something we (everyone in the room) had never before tasted.
Turkey Thigh and Pork Sausage, Onion Soubise, Duck Fat Pearl Onions, Pickled Wild Leeks, Russet Apple, and Birch Syrup
This course was my favorite! The apples were crunchy, the onions and sauce smooth and sweet, and the sausage was rich and nutty tasting.
Roasted Turkey Breast, Maple-Bourbon Cornbread, Cranberry, Rutabaga, Turkey Jus, Extra Virgin Canola Oil
Scott teased a photo of the cornbread on Instagram a few days prior and so I dreamt of cornbread for days, hotly anticipating its arrival on my plate. It lived up to the expectation - crunchy crust, crumbly light texture, and made a great vehicle to hold the canola oil and cranberry.
Scott's pro tip: Brine that bird.
Brine the turkey ahead of time, then let it air dry in the fridge for super crispy skin. Brining is when you soak the turkey in salty water for a long period of time so that it becomes more tender and flavorful.
Confit Turkey Leg, Beet, Sunchoke, Prunes in Pedro Ximenez
Beets make everything look beautiful. That is one of the reasons why I love them, aside from their earthy taste. The dark meat was so flavorful without being too oily, and the prunes were so soft that they felt almost like a creamy sauce once you bit into them.
Lemon Meringue Sorbet, Persimmon, Pain d'Epice, Coconut Curd, Roasted Squash
Egg whites whipped into sorbet - heaven.
Play music, all night, and make it good. Dim the lights, buy flameless candles. That's really all there is to know and thanks for sticking with me through this long-winded post. Love you all and Merry Christmas.
Coming soon - tips for navigating a holiday party as an allergic person vs. how to accommodate a guest with food allergies at your party. You won't want to miss it!
*Our table decor was sponsored by The Home Depot
If you would like to contact Scott for catering, events or other opportunities, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org