Many obligations come with my vocation and one of those is hosting Important Persons coming to town to visit the church. This is one such occasion. Last year I was new here and did it all myself, but this year people have volunteered to bring a dish or two so I'm setting up (cleaning up) and hosting and cooking the main dish(es).
Last year when this happened we had moved here 3 weeks earlier and I hosted at my house as that was what my predecessor had done. Not this year. For one thing, I don't have a dining room set for 16 and when I strung tables together I filled the living room too and it was just awkward and ugly. Besides, cleaning to the point of hosting a dignitary - ain't gonna happen. I've been to a dinner at the French House at the University where they did sit down for upwards of 36 where the tables went through the living/dining areas but they had more style than I'm able to pull off and were much more relaxed about it. But that's another story.
This year I'm having dinner at the church. Now, we don't have a typical church basement but rather a beautiful old parish house on the historic register that was remodeled about 5 years ago. One parishioner has a good sense of style and keeps it decorated, seasonally. There are square tables in a sun room that can get pushed together for gracious seating of 16. Edit
I had considered doing an all local meal and in the summer I would have done a garden meal, but I find that some folks are not happy to find that their milk products are raw and came from a cow named Pretzel. They don't want to know that someone knew the cow on their plate, or that we raised the chicken, and they don't want to eat home canned foods. So, tonight's dinner comes from the grocery store.
In some of my first blog posts I gushed about loving the Cooking Light magazine. I will be making two pork tenderloin dishes one with blue cheese and the other with figs. I'll serve it sliced on a bed of wild rice mix. The side dish will be a roasted cauliflower casserole from this month's issue (I made the pie on the front cover and took it to dinner but it wasn't great). I will serve my dilly beans. Others are bringing salad, rolls, dessert, and wine. We have pot-luck for the whole church on Sunday and for that I'll make clam chowder.
I'm off to shop, set the table, set up serving, cook, set up music and candles, and finish things for the morning (like straighten and spruce up my office). I half enjoy this but I'd enjoy it more if it weren't tied so closely to my livelihood.
How about you, do you enjoy doing dinner parties? Do you host regularly as a part of your (or partner's) work? How many do you usually serve and do you still do a sit down dinner or a more relaxed affair?