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Mar 21, 2007 09:37 AM

Help me plan 50th anniversary menu

This is my first draft of a menu for this Friday evening in June heavy HD event for 75 people, most of whom will be traditional eaters, southern, and ranging in age from 30 skyward (averaging probably 65).

I intend to have most of it catered, but cook about 30% myself. (i'm cooking = *)

Roast Tenderloin w/ rolls and sauces
Mini Country ham biscuits w/ jam or honey mustard
Assorted finger sandwiches (chicken salad, open-faced tomato, hot asparagus)
Fresh vegetable display
Fruit display
Assorted cheeses (I intend to make tiny goat cheese balls ala Martha, a larger cheese torte affair, and individual slices of Manchego w/ quince paste) *
Hot dip in a chaffing dish (either artichoke or vidalia onion souffle)
Tomato, mozz, and basil leaf on a skewer
Crab quiche
Boiled shrimp in an ice bowl (martha again) w/ various dipping sauces*
Ginger scented pecans (yep, Martha)*
One to-be-determined very fancy HD from the martha HD handbook*
One to-be determined small sweet (wedding cookies, truffles, etc.)*
One giant anniversary cake*

Lemonade Bar (flavor suggestions hereby solicited)*
Coke in glass bottles (my Mom worships Coca-Cola)*
Bellinis (my venue forbids red wine and doesn't have a hard liquor license)*

Is this enough?
Is this too much?
Is there too much of any one thing? Anything conspicuously missing? Too boring?
For the stuff I'm making, any tips on how much of any one thing you think people will eat?

I realize this is not the most cutting edge menu in the world, but I have watched a subset of these people stare at gaspacho (COLD soup?) like it was from another planet. I want to impress my parent's friends with the bounty and beauty and taste of the food, but none of them are going to be harsh critics if I show a lack of creativity. All advice appreciated.

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  1. It sounds like plenty to me! And a good time at that! Don't you just love that Martha HD cookbook?! And I love the ice bowls too- people were very impressed at a barbeque I went to, even though mine melted all over the place. Anyway, I have discovered that roasting shrimp is much easier, tastier, and more impressive than boiling shrimp, so that was the only thing I was going to recommend. I just follow Ina's directions in this recipe, and I will never boil shrimp again!! Also, for the lemonade, this pink lemonade was SO good, and people were so impressed that it wasn't from a can! ;-)

    1. I think the menu looks good. It sounds like everything you are planning on doing is made ahead of time, and therefore, hopefully, less stressful. I don't think you are leaving out anything, and I think you will have plenty of food. I think the lemonade bar sounds like a great idea. I know I can't pass up lavender lemonade when I'm at the farmer's market, other options could be strawberry, raspberry, mint, iced tea and of course, peach.

      1. Thanks!

        Lavender lemonade, eh? I never thought of that combo. I wonder if it's too out-there for my guests. I wonder if lavender-mint would be interesting?

        So I'm thinking 3 lemonades: 1 plain, 1 strawberry(ala Katie Nell), and one mint or lavender-mint.

        I know it's unheard of in the South, but I'm not planning to serve iced tea. 3 lemonades, cokes and bellinis, if they can't find something to drink, the servants (my venue's hilarious terminology) can give them some tap water.

        I know this depends on so many things, but: if you lived in a small city, what would you expect to pay the caterer per person for the non-asterisked items above? He provides his own serving pieces, but nothing else (no linens, plates, flatware, etc.) TIA!

        5 Replies
        1. re: danna

          Your menu sounds lovely. Just one suggestion...since your guests will primarily be older people, you might want to consider a sugar-free cookie or other small sweet, identified as such by a tasteful, discreet sign. In my neck of the south, it seems like everyone over 60 is a diabetic. Same comment on the lemonades: if you do have a diabetic guest, he or she will have nothing to drink if all of the 'ades are pre-sweetened and Coke & alcohol are off-limits. It's so easy to have iced water in pitchers at the lemonade bar...and I find that more & more people are choosing water when it is offered. And you don't want diabetic senior citizens to drink something sugary rather than inconvenience the hostess with a special request or chase down the "servants" for a lukewarm glass of tap water from the catering kitchen's sink.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Excellent point. Did a large party for friends a couple of years ago, with a lot of elderly folks. Took that in consideration and had a large fruit platter as part of the dessert table. Mid-summer, so I had the benefit of wonderful fresh, local stuff being available. Also took it in consideration on beverages...but those old folks drank far more booze and wine than I'd been assured they would. The Margarita bar ran out way too early!!! I think the first and last served were the two 80-something matriarchs of the family.

            1. re: Old Spice

              Yes, at both my parents' 50th anniversary and my father's 80th birthday party I was stunned at how much booze their generation knocked back. And none the worse for it either -- they must all have hollow legs!

              Terrific-sounding menu, I would be thrilled to be a guest at such an event. Please report back on it, especially what went particularly well, once you have recovered.

              1. re: GretchenS

                Are you going to do coffee...that is one thing that people always want in my neck of the matter what is served.

                1. re: LaLa

                  I don't think so, even though I'm sure you are correct. I know that a lot of people of that generation drink coffee w/ meals other than least around here, but good God, it's late June. The sun will still be high and it will likely be 90 degrees. Plus the only thing my venue doesn't provide is glassware/cups.

        2. Danna, kudos to you for knowing your audience. Sounds like a fine menu. And Coke should only be consumed from a glass bottle. : )

          4 Replies
          1. re: Old Spice

            Thank you. I was considering providing some retro-looking drinking straws to go with the cokes, but I'm not sure about that. Is that how people drank them in the soda-fountain days? Would the men consider it feminine? I know they could just use the straw or not, but I wanted to make it obvious that people were not going to be frowned upon for drinking out of the bottle. (My grandfather owned a country store where people sat around and drank cokes near the horizontal coke machine where you pulled your drink around a maze by the neck to get it out. Know what I mean? I have debated asking my uncles to loan me one of their antique Coke signs for decor, but I don't want to get too cute-sy with the "old-timey" stuff. )

            Thanks! you and Celeste are very smart. I can add one more carafe/pitcher to the lemonade bar that just contains water and lemons. Maybe some Pelligrino in the ice bucket with the Coke?

            I'll ask the caterer to put a small version of the fruit display near the other sweets.

            1. re: danna

              My favorite sugar free drink these days is sugar free lemonade (crystal light or equivalent) with extra water or ice and plenty of freshly grated ginger. The fresh ginger gives it an adult taste. You can strain it before serving if you don't like the look of the ginger. Also, to add complexity to any drink, you can add a generous dash of angostura bitters.

              1. re: danna

                I well remember a vertical Coke machine at my dad's plant. A Coke cost 6 cents. Put in your money, pull down the lever, and this cylinder inside moved around and we'd pull our bottles out of a round hole. Only one bottle accessible at a time. I remember the horizontal Coke boxes at service stations, but not the apparatus. When my dad took me to service station for a treat, I was much more interested in the ice cream box. Nutty Buddies, Push-Ups, and Ice Cream Sandwiches.

                As for straws, back in my day (haven't been around quite long enough yet for a 50th anniversary), we drank Cokes straight from the bottle, but used straws with fountain drinks. Probably because they just handed you a straw at the soda fountain. If you find some retro straws you like, I'd say put them out in a retro container and make it look as much like part of the decor as a utensil. Folks who want a straw can take one; others can drink from the bottle. One way to make sure people don't feel like they "should" take a straw is to grab a bottle yourself and take a swig.

                Have a great party. Sounds like fun.

                1. re: danna

                  We'll be celebrating our 50th anniversary this year too so having grown up in that era, I can tell you that at a soda fountain, coke was served in a coke glass. We usually either ordered a cherry coke, a chocolate coke, a vanilla coke or a lemon coke in addition to the plain coke. That might be fun for your guests that remember the days. You could offer some chocolate syrup or da Vinci's cherry syrup for those that want to imbibe.