Today we thought we would bring you a little holiday get-together inspiration. I love picking other people’s brains, instagram feeds, pinterest boards, etc. for their personal ways to celebrate and host an event. It’s always so interesting to see what someone else might dream up, and usually inspires me to add a new twist to the regular routine.
Enter our new “Entertaining Expert”, Adrian Perry. Adrian is an established visual stylist here in Seattle, and is one of those people you constantly turn to for advice on adding sparkle to life. The creative spirit just sort of flows out of her, and her desire to always learn and grow within her craft is infectious. I constantly find myself looking to her for a little creative jolt when life starts to feel a bit mundane.
Adrian will be joining us from time to time to help us all be the best possible hostess, and today, she’s demonstrating one of her favorite ways to gather friends together during the holiday season…a rustic and casual wine and cheese spread. Guests love this sort of thing for the easy going, help yourself atmosphere, and you will adore this for the break from heavy duty kitchen work this time of year. A little more low key, a little more intimate, yet still refined and very gorgeous to look at.
On Adrian’s tabletop, rustic and earthy elements abound…from marble pedestals full of fruit and nuts, to hearty baguettes and crisp fruit slices, each food item stays within the palette. Setting bread and oil, or wedges of cheese out on simple cutting boards encourages guests to graze at their leisure.
Personal touches to standard ingredients are something that Adrian loves to incorporate. As shown below, she will often infuse honey with a seasonal element, such as fresh rosemary in the Fall, or blackberries during Summer. Simply chop up the herb or berry you would like to use, stir it into a jar of honey, and let sit for 5 days. Store it in a cool, dry place, with the lid tightly closed, and it will last indefinitely.
Adrian also suggests serving one main special dish that you can build your table around. Today, it’s Roasted Grapes…so simple, yet something I had never thought of doing! The smell coming from the kitchen as this was being prepared was to die for, and I loved the fact that it was still very easy to prepare.
Roasted Grapes over Brie Cheese
You will need……
Red Seedless Grapes
Fig Preserves (feel free to use any jam of your choice)
Crushed Black Pepper
Wash and dry the grapes, then preheat oven at 400 degrees. Place grapes in a skillet or baking tray, and coat with olive oil.
Sprinkle thyme leaves, sea salt, and black pepper lightly over grapes. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes or until grapes start to wrinkle, and give them a little nudge halfway through to ensure that they are getting thoroughly heated. Spread some of the preserves over the top of the wheel of brie, then pour the grapes on top.
Sometimes it’s fun to shake up the usual holiday color stories, and go for something a bit more glam, as you can see here with the base colors being a Bright Pink and Dark Navy. Accents such as gold utensils, wooden plates and bowls, and dark slate boards added to the rich and sultry look of the table. Adrian also suggests layering tabletop items as a simple way to make the spread look more luxe and dramatic. Use both a tablecloth and runner, stack a few plates of various sizes upon each other, or use both tall tapered candles and short pillar candles together to add dimension and interest.
Of course, you can’t forget about wine and cheese, the mainstays of such a spread! We gathered wine from World Market, and tried out mini bottles of various reds so as not to distract from the design of the table. Adrian loves Whole Foods for their cheese selection, their willingness to let you try different varieties, and for how well trained and informed they are on what they are selling.
When arranging the cheeses you have selected, instead of putting them all on one tray, try spreading them out on different heights and an array of platters. This gives a little more texture and interest to the table, and keeps the guests moving around, creating more interesting social interactions.
And finally, to finish off your beautiful table, don’t forget to stop by the market to grab a bouquet or two of flowers. Adrian suggests gathering blooms in similar color schemes, such as the magentas and oranges below, and then break it all up to customize it for your own unique centerpiece. You really can never have enough flowers, so if there are extras, arrange small bud vases around the room or across the table as well.
And there you have it! A relatively quick way to prepare a lovely feast for friends this time of year. Now open up that wine and enjoy your time with loved ones!
Photos courtesy of KettleWerks, styling by Adrian Perry.