Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Spaghetti Night? Advice?

Next week bconn will be in town for work, and I'm making some plans for his time here. Brian has been here several times since he started his job with my former employer, and I've managed to rope him in to various parts of my life. My friends here, particularly my Morris dance friends, enjoy Brian's visits very much; in fact, trying to convince Brian to move to Minnesota is a running conversational theme when he goes out with us after Morris practice. The problem with Brian's most recent visits is that there hasn't been enough time for everybody who knows him to see him.

So I have this idea for next week, which is that I'll host a big spaghetti party at my place. The idea here is that it should be possible to provide food for many people without it being an unreasonable amount of work or expense. I'll need to clean up the place a bit, but really I should be doing that whether I'm having guests or not.

So here are my thoughts. I'm not sure whether this will work out.

First of all, I don't think it will be necessary for this to be a sit-down affair. I can make this a buffet, and set up lots of folding 1950s tv trays. (Are you surprised that I own lots of 1950s folding tv trays? I used to own about 12 more, but I gave them away). My thought question is: will that be strange, spaghetti as buffet? Will that make the dinner party less of a dinner party? I love the focus and formality of sitting down to table at the same time, so I guess I'm not sure what I'll be giving up -- even as I'll be gaining a less firm dinner hour.

As for the food:

- I don't think it's cheating to buy field greens ready-shredded to serve as a salad, so all I need to do is make salad dressing. I could easily prepare a batch of bacon to serve on the side, or even some diced Emmanthaler cheese -- more than that would be defeating the purpose of reducing the labor, particularly in quantity. Is that ok for company?

- Odd as this sounds, I've never made spaghetti for company. I was thinking that I should provide some sort of meat, so my current thoughts (after looking at some recipe books):

* I could make a basic tomato sauce with canned tomatoes (and garlic and spices), and cook meatballs in the sauce for the final hour of simmering.
* I found a fairly simple recipe for tomato sauce that includes fennel sausage -- you saute the sausage with the garlic and onion in the big pot before adding the tomato and simmering.

The only vegetarian who might be there is Stephen upstairs, and Stephen would be happy with a basic butter/garlic sauce on his pasta.

Any thoughts?

- Garlic bread. I have to have garlic bread.

- What to do about a vegetable? Will the salad be enough? For a small group I would do something with squash or eggplant or even greens and onions, but for a large group that's too much work for what I have in mind. Ideal: Roasted vegetables, with olive oil. But wouldn't that involve a lot of cutting and chopping? Can you buy precut vegetables for roasting that are good enough for company? (I know you can buy cold prepared roasted mixed vegetables and you know, maybe I'll go with that.)

- Dessert: I'd love to make a cheesecake, but I'd have to do that the previous night and I am not free the previous night. I have an old easy standby, which is to make a batch of brownies and serve it with good ice cream (brownies are much less work than cheesecake). Or just ice cream, plain on its own with some nice storebought fancy cookies.

- Will a cheese and pate tray (set out all ready when people arrive) be too much? (That's no work at all -- even vegetables and dip are some work).

- Wine. Australian Shiraz, for dinner, from a box! Pinot Grigio or White Bordeaux for pre-dinner cheese and pate, if I go with that.

Any advice here on either keeping it simple or whether this sounds like it will work out for a largish group of indeterminate number? (It could well turn out that people aren't free on a weeknight, but who knows...)
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