Saturday, October 15, 2011

Julie & Julia 30th Birthday Party

Me & the Birthday Girl Kristi

     Let me just begin by saying cooking a 5 course meal for 10 guests all inspired by Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is no easy task, especially in heels.  But, it has always been one of those crazy things I have wanted to do for awhile.  The idea came when I met Kristi at my Cookie Swap party I held last Christmas.  We talked about the "Julie & Julia" movie and looked through all three of my Julia Child cookbooks.  I admitted I was totally inspired by Julie Powell's quest to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and that I've always wanted to cook a sit down course meal.  It didn't take long for Kristi to come up with the idea to cook for her for her birthday coming up in February.  I told her, "Yes! I would love to!"  She borrowed my cookbook and picked out some recipes she would like me to prepare for the party.  For three months, I was busy planning and coming up with the ideas for the decorations, table settings, menu, ice breaker games, etc.  I had so much fun, I could hardly wait till the BIG DAY!  And of course, you know how I love keeping as much as I can a secret from the guest of honor...so when she saw everything for the first time all put together, tears came to her eyes.  I was so excited she loved it.  She is such an amazing friend, I wanted it to the BEST Birthday party ever for her!
The Table Scape
Julie & Julia, the Inspiration
     As far as the decorations go, I tried to find old kitchen utensils (thrift stores are perfect for great finds),  used some of Julia Child's cookbooks, lots of sunflowers (Kristi's favorite flowers),  roses (Julia Child was known for her rose gardens), anything Paris related (nod to Julia's years in France), and a few of Julia Child's famous quotes framed (I printed the quotes on some cute
Sunflowers, Kristi's favorite flower
vintage scrap paper, added a little embellishment and put it in a simple frame from the dollar store).  I laid a vintage looking table cloth over a simple red one and arranged wooden creates at different angles to establish an interesting staggered table scape.  Then I just placed all my little details, the sunflowers, frames, roses, books, utensils, candles, etc. where I thought it looked best.  Then I set each place setting with a dinner plate and two salad plates, eating utensils, champagne flutes, white, red, and dessert wine glasses, water glasses, and napkins fitted with the night's menu printed on beautiful scrap paper.  Once the table was all set, water glasses filled, and candles lit,  it looked gorgeous!
Place setting


     Kristi and I collaborated on a few things like the party favors, which turned out so cute. She purchased some miniature whisks and had some fresh water pearl necklaces and aprons made for everyone.  When it came to arranging them on the napkins, I tied a place card onto the whisk handle and placed the necklaces inside the wire part of the whisks then onto the napkins.  As for the aprons, we tied those to the backs of the chairs.  It totally made the room vibrant with color.  Everyone looked great wearing their aprons and pearls and they all had fun channeling their inner Julia.
     Since this was suppose to be a birthday party, I decided to throw in some games for Kristi's guests to play while I prepared all five courses.   On the backs of the menus, I printed a few trivia questions about Julia Child which everyone took turns reading and trying to answer.  I also printed a question or comment about Kristi inside the name cards that each guest took take turns reading.  I wasn't able to watch them play, but could hear the laughs and comments while I cooked.  It sounded like they were having a great time.
Salad Nicoise
     Now on to the best part!  I know everyone is dying to know....what was on the menu??  I decided to start the night off with one of Julia's favorite cocktails, the Upside Down Martini while waiting for all of Kristi's guests to arrive.  Once everyone was seated, I began to serve dinner starting with the first course of Salad Nicoise served with a nice chilled champagne.  Second course, Asparagus topped with a Poached Egg drizzled with Julia's Hollandaise Sauce and shaved Parmesan, took a little longer then expected (trying to get a perfect poached egg sounds easier then done, I totally felt like Amy Adam's character in the "Julie & Julia" movie) but it turned out DELISH!
Asparagus topped with Poached Egg,
Hollandaise Sauce,and Parmesan Cheese
Cream of Watercress Soup
Baked Apples drizzled with Creme Anglise
It was served with a crisp Riesling.  Third course, Cream of Water Cress soup, was very easy to make, since most of it can be prepped a head of time.  It was accompanied with a nice glass of light Chardonnay.  I thought it was a very nice smooth light soup, perfect for dinner any day of the week.  Next fourth course, Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables and Stuffed Eggplant paired with a wonderful Pinot Noir.  Lastly dessert!  I made Baked Apples with Creme Anglaise paired with a lovely Moscato wine.  As a special little something I found some amazing dark chocolate French truffles for the guests which I served with coffee and espressos.
     After everyone was stuffed with food and feeling great from all the wine and then experiencing a zing from the espresso it was time for presents!  We ended the night of celebration with warm hugs and good byes.  Overall, everyone enjoyed all the food and had a great time.  Especially Kristi!







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