Create a Supper Club for Grown-Up Entertaining
By Doris Ohlmann
Imagine: No kids, only adults, a refreshing glass of wine, mouth-watering morsels, palate-pleasing entrees, tongue-tingling sweet tastings, and scintillating conversation… and you have the recipe for a supper club.
A new way to socialize is beginning to take couples by storm. Based on the supper clubs of the 1930s and 1940s, these social mixers are gaining popularity again because with today’s current economic environment, most meals are eaten on the run and nights out are no longer in the budget. People are craving a regular, intimate dinner with a group of friends. So when you’re looking for a new idea to get together with friends (for some adult time) while your kids are on their own play dates, consider the supper club for your next night out.
The supper club idea usually works best with three or four couples so you can have a three or four-course meal. Ask some friends if they’re interested in creating a kind of round robin evening out and once you have the guest list, it’s time to plan the meal.
If you have four couples, the meal is divided into appetizer and aperitif, soup or salad, the main course, and dessert. The idea is for each couple to choose one of the courses to prepare and serve so that you don’t have to do all the cooking. Choosing who contributes which part of the meal can be as simple as asking which course each couple would like to bring. If one person hates making dessert but loves to fire up the grill, it’s easy to see where their choice will lie. Mixing it up by pulling courses from a hat, or taking turns each time so someone isn’t always responsible for the main course — usually the most expensive and time-consuming — makes it fair for everyone’s budget and time as well.
Usually supper clubs infer that besides joining together for the obvious meal, the location changes with each course. So when it’s time for the appetizer and aperitif, you meet at one house and then for the next course, you travel to the next house, and so on. This works particularly well if you are in close proximity to each other, even better if you’re all in walking distance to one another — you get the added benefit of an evening stroll between courses. The fresh air and exercise will make you appreciate the meal all the more and you won’t worry one bit about saying yes to even the dessert course. After all, you’ve pounded the pavement in between courses and the calories you just consumed have already melted off! If you do have to drive to each other’s places, just make sure one of the members of each couple is, of course, a designated driver. Carpooling may even work in some instances. An alternative is to just choose one house each time and everyone brings their course — rather like potluck but a little more organized. In this case, as one friend has commented, then all four houses don’t have to be cleaned!
Usually the dress code is semi-formal for this kind of affair but if you want to dress up for a special occasion go for it! Of course, when pool season comes around, sporting a swimsuit or bringing one for a late dip in the pool is often a refreshing end to the evening’s festivities.
Supper clubs are for those who don’t always want to connect only electronically or with quick, on-the-fly chats at the grocery store, soccer field or hockey arena. If you’re longing for one-on-one time with friends or family, organizing such evenings does not have to be an onerous or time-consuming chore. The first one may take a little planning to get the ball rolling, but once you’re all together at the chosen location, make sure the evening doesn’t end without planning where, when and who’s cooking which course for your next get together. You’ll find you’ll be setting the dates closer together and looking forward to your — dare we say it — once a month night out!
Supper Club Resources
FRIENDS AT THE TABLE – THE ULTIMATE SUPPER CLUB COOK
Debi Shawcross/Thomas Nelson
In Friends at the Table – The Ultimate Supper Club Cookbook, author Debi Shawcross not only lays out what’s important in forming the right Supper Club group and how to do so, but takes the elements of Supper Clubs from the past and transforms them into an evening at home — a time and place where people get together and not only celebrate a mutual love for fine food, but facilitate deeper connections with those they care about or want to know better. Chapters include how to pool your club’s culinary resources to create a four-course meal without anyone spending all day in the kitchen, how your iPod’s favourite play lists can replace the live musical entertainment heard in the Supper Clubs of the past, how to create beautiful and inviting tablescapes using candles and fresh flowers, and menus and recipes for every season of the year, featuring beautiful full-colour photographs.
AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN, SEASON 9
WGBH Boston Video
Grab your aprons. Chris Kimball and his team are back with more classic home-style cooking recipes in the ninth season of America’s Test Kitchen. Chris, the founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines, gives audiences easy-to-learn tips for making delicious dishes from blueberry pie to holiday ham and biscuits. Join Chris and the cast of America’s Test Kitchen, the most-watched cooking show on public television, to learn the basics of great home cooking. This collection also includes honest tastings of supermarket ingredients and detailed ratings of indispensable kitchen equipment and tools.