My favorite ingredients for entertaining: FRIENDS, WINE, LAUGHTER, FOOD… In that order, YES. Many times I am asked what are my favorite ingredients to cook with or what my favorite recipe is for a dinner party. It really all depends on how much time you have. If I have all day to prep then I will pull out all the stops and spend hours cooking and creating. Should that be the basis of getting together with friends. Absolutely not!
Lets face it, most of us lead crazy busy lives. When I was putting in 80 hours a week running a restaurant the last thing I wanted to do on my only day off was cook. I literally just got my a$$ kicked for a full week and did not want to fire one more saute pan. But I missed my friends and needed the social interaction. Many of you lead the same lives. Don’t short yourselves precious time with friends because you do not have time to cook. I have put together a simple Italian picnic.
A quick trip to WholeFoods you can purchase everything you need. Is it cheap? NO.. Is it quality food yes? Will is give you the ability to entertain and enjoy your guests? YES. The bakery section with all the fresh breads is incredible, the smell alone lured me over. I purchased a Lemon Rosemary Bread, Sourdough Parisienne & French Baguette. They all are delicious in very different ways, flavors & textures. I am a sucker for Castelvetrano Olives must have those ! One of my favorite things to do in Italy is to sit in the piazza in the afternoon and sip prosecco and enjoy the olives as I people watch. Cheese is very important, today I was in a truffle kind of mood. I picked out a Truffled Chèvre (goats milk) and a Caciotta Tartufo (sheeps milk) and a truffled ricotta. All very delicious, the truffled chèvre is soft and delicate a little buttery, the cacicotta is a little firmer in texture with a nice earthy truffle flavor and the ricotta is very fresh and easy to spread. I chose two different salami’s one a picante, but not to spicy and the other a garlic pepper, both very flavorful. And a wonderful bottle of Brunello di Montalcino produced by Piancornello, one of my favorites! Whole Foods also have wonderful Salted Caramel Chocolate bars.
I am sure your friends would not be disappointed to be invited for an al fresco picnic. You will not be disappointed that you got to enjoy glasses of wine and laughter. You do not have to cook, and you will not have much of a clean up either.
Life is short, enjoy every moment with your friends and family!