Saturday, February 28, 2009

Foodie Films: Chocolat & Fondues!

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This month's Foodie Films luncheon paid tribute to chocolate, as it is a popular month to give and enjoy chocolate treats. What better movie to celebrate chocolate with than Chocolat?!

Nominated for 5 Academy Awards(R) including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress, CHOCOLAT is the beautiful and captivating comedy. Nobody could have imagined the impact that the striking Vianne would make when she arrived in a tranquil, old-fashioned French town. In her very unusual chocolate shop, Vianne begins to create mouth-watering confections that almost magically inspire the straitlaced villagers to abandon themselves to temptation and happiness! But it is not until another stranger, the handsome Roux, arrives in town that Vianne is finally able to recognize her own desires!


For our Foodie Films event, we enjoyed a sweet and savory fondue luncheon. It was an amazing spread that we all contributed to! Here's our fondue luncheon menu (with clickable recipes) which we enjoyed before watching the movie...

Fondues:
Garlic Parmesan Cheese Fondue
White Cheddar & Pepper Jack Cheese Fondue
Ghiradelli Chocolate Fondue
Buttery Caramel Fondue
Savory Dippers:
Bread Cubes
Turkey Bratwurst
Grilled Turkey Cutlets

Vegetable Platter:
Cubed Zucchini
Red & Yell Bell Pepper Slices
Steamed Asparagus
White Button Mushrooms
Baby Carrots
Broccoli Florets

Annie's Breakfast Casserole
Sweet Dippers:
Johns Angel Food Cake
Nicole's Pound Cake

Fresh Fruit Platter:
Strawberries
Grapes
Canteloupe Slices
Honeydew Slices
Granny Smith Apple Slices
Banana Slices

Anna's Chocolate Cake Balls


Preparing a day before:

  • For my fondue luncheon, I opted for a simple yet colorful runner and silver chargers for my dinner plates to rest on.

  • I normally don't use any centerpieces because the focus on my tables are usually the food and wines. But if you wanted to have a centerpiece, I would suggest something simple and low so that you and your guests are able to see each other across the table. Nothing is more annoying at a table than a centerpiece you have to dodge around to see and speak comfortably with guests!

  • To save time, I set the table the night before with all the serving ware & utensils, dinnerware, appropriate flatware, glassware, chargers and linens.

  • Since this luncheon is a potluck, I have various serving ware (bowls & platters) and serving utensils ready for friends to transfer their potluck dishes into. This allows a more streamlined presentation at the table and ensures all dishes can be passed easily. When having a family style meal, it's important to note that your serving pieces should not be too heavy and are easy to pass. Avoid large, heavy serving pieces or ones that are an awkward shape for your guests to handle at the table.

  • For every 3 people attending, I have a water carafe and a bottle of wine set on the table which prevents having folks to get up for drinks.

Preparing the day of:
  • In the living room, I positioned our seating to accomodate the number of guests around our tv. The movie is ready in the DVD player and is set so I all I have to do is press play.

  • When I fondue, I use small crockpots rather than an actual fondue set. I prefer these because I can use them for other things aside from fondue (I'm not big on unitaskers!). These small crockpots come in handy and I find them much easier and safer to use than traditional fondue pots. I set 4 mini crockpots on my buffet and kept the fondues warm there until guests arrive.


Preparing 1 hour before guests arrive:
  • Regardless of whenever my event is scheduled, I finish preparing the dishes I'm serving about 1 hour before my guests arrive. I don't like fussing over things I need to do when guests are over so I make sure I set my deadline to 1 hour before they come... that way when they are here, I can give them 100% of my attention.

  • When folks are bringing dishes to a potluck, it can be a little challenging as the hostess, especially if I'm not ready for them. One big distraction is a cluttered and messy kitchen. An hour before guests arrive, aside from having my prepared dishes ready, I also clean my kitchen and workspace:
    -- No dirty dishes, pots, and pans are allowed in my sink when they arrive - friends can wash up and do some last minute prep without having obstacles in the way in the sink. I also make sure soap and paper towels are refilled if needed.
    -- My stove, oven and microwave are clear of any pots, pans, bakingware and are wiped down clean - friends can use my stove and ovens to warm up or finish cooking their dishes.
    -- The garbage has been taken out and a fresh empty garbage can is nearby - so folks can discard foil, plastic wrap, packaging, etc without asking where the garbage can is and from having the garbage can getting too full.
    -- Counterspace is all wiped down and is ready for friends to use.

Preparing 15 minutes before guests arrive:
  • About 15 minutes before my guests arrived, I filled my water carafes with ice and water, opened up my wine so they could breathe a bit and lit my tealights to set the mood. Soft jazz is playing, however if you wanted more of an Italian mood, play some Italian music!

  • I also check the bathroom to ensure there is enough toilet paper available, the hand soap is refilled and clean hand towels are ready.

  • Lastly, I do one more walk through of the places where my guests will be going through to check for cleanliness - living room, second bedroom, bathroom, dining room & table and kitchen.

Event start time/as guests arrive:
  • As guests arrive and settle in, I have them place their coats/jackets/belongings.

  • I also have drinks and appetizers ready for folks to nosh on while we await for all my guests to arrive.

  • I then welcome them into the kitchen to plate the dish they've brought to the potluck. If they need to do any last minute prep, my kitchen is available for their disposal. If they need to transfer their dish to something smaller or more appropriate, my serving ware and serving dishes are ready for their use.

  • If folks need to use the oven, I remove any dishes being warmed, plate and set on the table.

  • Once their dishes are plated, I take them to get photographed (for blog and our group website purposes) before we place them on the table.

  • For my parties, I generally allow a 30 minute cushion to allow for traffic, parking, and public transportation timing. I tend to start our meal 30 minutes after the set time I indicate in my invitations. This is communicated to my guests and I also welcome them to arrive early if needed.


About 30 minutes after our event time/as guests arrive:
  • We all gather at the table and do a round of introductions along with a little explanation or information of what we brought to share at the table.

  • Then we dig in! It's such a great time to be able to enjoy various dishes and learn about the recipes and each other.
After lunch:
  • We moved into the living room and settle in with our food coma to watch the movie. Unfortunately we had some major technical difficulties and were unable to watch the movie... however my friends are great for their flexibility and we ended up playing the board game, Eat It! instead.

  • We was definitely a fun time enjoying a fabulous meal and a great afternoon with friends!

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