Residentially speaking, Gothamist is blessed with rather ample proportions. We’ve graduated from the grimy hovels of our youth to a humbly appointed dwelling which, owing to the block’s somewhat tawdry reputation, takes only a modest toll on our wallets while allowing enough space for the occasional fete.
It’s that very real estate-fueled confidence that convinced us recently that our home would be the ideal space for a 20-person dinner party—a decision made in spite of our lack of essential dinner party accoutrement (a table and chairs among them). It was a noble pursuit, perhaps a reckless one, but invitations were distributed well before the potential for failure was responsibly weighed and so Gothamist prepared to host the event — An Haute Pizza and Beer party deep in the heart of Brooklyn.
What We Ate:
• Ten Savory Pizzas: (Smoked salmon, dilled crème frâiche and
red onion; Roasted Yukon potatoes, sautéed white onions and thyme; Braised kale, mozzarella and bacon; Chick pea olive oil and sweet chili; Fig, reduced balsamic vinegar and chevre; Butternut squash, fried sage and blue cheese; Caramelized onion, crushed walnut and chevre; and three Tomato, mozzarella and basil pies)
• Two Dessert Pizzas: (Honeyed ricotta with roasted d’Anjou pears and thyme; Honeyed ricotta with baked and sugared lemons)
• Two Salads: (Winter Salad of Beets, Fennel, and Apples, with Stilton and Maple-Candied Pecans; Crisp Celery Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette)
• Twenty-four Cupcakes: Beautifully spongy, expertly frosted, lovingly sprinkled.
What We Drank:
• Pamplemousse Cocktail: We doubled the recipe and made a pitcher. Offering cocktails to our guests personally kept them from getting sauced on our dime but made us look like gracious, accommodating hostesses.
• Peroni: The perfect Italian brew to complement our menu, we made sure there were enough beers to pick up the hard liquor slack.
What we learned:
• We planned to present the familiar pizzas first and then push into the more interesting pies as the evening progressed. Next time we’ll stagger the pies—we found that our guests filled up on tomato and mozzarella and were less likely to sample the creations we were most proud of. We’ll also allow for more space between pies so that our guests are eating over a longer period of time.
• Next time we’ll curtain off the kitchen so that guests stay in the living room. Trying to keep things relatively neat in the kitchen (such that guests coming in for a drink wouldn’t be disgusted) took up precious prep time.
• Dedicated sous chefs are essential in pulling off a party of this volume. Ours arrivedat 11 AM and, after a much-deserved repast of bagels and champagne, promptly set about preparing our mise en place.
• Making the dough by hand was an incredible undertaking (we breezed through a 10-pound bag of flour) but the crust emerged dense and crisp. We made the right choice in making it ourselves.
• Even the tiniest shred of beet can turn a perfectly white batch of dilled crème fraiche bubblegum pink. Keep the two apart.
• The dessert pizzas were spontaneously conceived. Next time we’ll bake the dough first and then spread the honeyed ricotta so that the cheese doesn’t dry out.
• If not for our pre-event prep work, we might have had to abandon some of our more elaborate offerings. The night before the event, we made and reserved our Pomegranate Simple Syrup, sunk our sliced celery in an ice bath to curl and crisp overnight and ground our fresh anchovy filets and garlic for the salad’s dressing.
• A bit of spilled oil and a pear slice dropped into the broiler were the determining factors in this final lesson. Next time we’ll disconnect the smoke alarm…