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What's on the menu for the quintessential summer solstice bash? Culinary pundits say it's a mix of old-fashioned favourites and sophisticated goodies with global fare. Everything from grandma's recipe for Hello Dollies on the dessert table to ice cream floats spiked with Jack Daniels will get the evening rolling. And ceviche has replaced sushi as the hors d'oeurve du jour. What follows is a guide to the perfect summer bash now from drink to décor…

The grill - as every diet conscious person knows, carbohydrates are out and protien is in. Barbara Stuart-Peterson, owner of Stuart+Saladino Catering in Toronto, says "that means hunks of red meat - everything from the rib-eye steaks to lamb kebabs and ribs - are flying off the grill. (Remember though, to keep at least one third of the menu vegetarian) My Mom even cooks apple pie on the barbecue." Stuart-Peterson says ceviche, a spanish technique that involves cooking morsels of fish (halibut, scallops, etc.) in a marinade of various vinegars, oils and herbs, has bumped sushi off it's pedestal. On the salad front, slaws made of red cabbage, celery, fennel and Chinese greens are a New Age alternative to an old favourite. And update the Caesar salad by setting up a salad bar, where the guests can add their own toppings such as grilled shrimp, pieces of chicken and fresh fruit.

Desserts - fresh fruit, homegrown or imported, is the mainstay of dessert trolleys this summer. Stuart-Peterson is a fan of fruit skewers, served with a strawberry coulis (a thick puree or sauce). "It's easy. It's delicious. Remember that when you are entertaining, you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time." She says that another huge hit is the fondue -

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  the decadence meter turned up a but with Grande Marnier and white chocolate or Frangelico and caramel, serviced with an assortment of fruit. Homemade sweets are also the rage, from Hello Dollies to gooey fudge brownies and butter tarts.

Décor - nothing too fancy or too ornate is required. A potted ivy, peonies from the garden, a bowl of fresh tomatoes or peppers - any would make a great centerpiece. Table coverings can be created with a yard of exuberant fabric bought off a bolt or a rag rug, or an indian print bed sheet. The cardinal rule in table setting this summer? There are no rules.