In her tome on personal contentment, The Happiness Project, American author Gretchen Rubin muses that hosting a party produces a “fog happiness” because it’s a satisfaction that arrives after everyone has left. The “fog” of hosting a party is challenging to navigate in the moment, while you’re preoccupied with the execution of details and the guests’ enjoyment of the evening, but you’re glad you did it once it’s all over. What characterizes the satisfaction that comes from entertaining in your home? We asked three hosts, and each had both practical and whimsical responses.
A group of successful professionals with young children appreciate good food and great wine and the freedom that comes with hosting friends at home. It allows them to set the menu, pair it with interesting wine and adult conversation, while the children find their own place in the party with juice boxes and a game of tag with the family dog.
A Barriefield house is the perfect setting for long-time friends to demonstrate their well-defined talent for presentation. They travel together, share professional interests, and their dinner chatter is a combination of analytical conversation and nostalgia. They host parties because they’re not in a rush and home is the perfect place to linger over dessert.
Finally, there are those who make hospitality their business, and returning to a restaurant can be a little too reminiscent of work. Restaurateurs, sommeliers and hospitality professionals get together to show off and share their culinary skills because a love of coming together at the table is what drew them to the industry. Outside of the workplace, there’s camaraderie and maybe just a little bravado when the boys are in the kitchen.
Kingston Life got a peek at how people come together over a table and the “why” of entertaining at home became obvious. We host because we care, and it’s an opportunity to appreciate our friends and show them our own personal take on entertaining. After all, birds of a feather flock together, and the reciprocal invitation will one day be extended back.
Hosts: Julia Sparrow, professor of fine art, St. Lawrence College; West Edwards, owner of West Edwards Engineering
Guests: Sarah Legge, mother; Lori-Jo Whitfield, behavioural therapist, Frontenac Community Mental Health Services; Zane Whitfield, owner of North of Princess Recording Studio; Jen Storey, owner of Jen Storey Designs and Dwell Boutique; Matt Legge, teacher, First Avenue Public School
Menu: Shrimp and steaks prepared on the barbeque, pâté and cheese spread with olive tray, summer tomato salad, rhubarb sours, fruit-laden angel food cake and Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Décor: There is a modern bounty of colour amid the white farmhouse backdrop, with a mix of vintage finds, high-end pieces and savvy design. The table was bright and whimsical with abstract floral napkins, quirky porcelain pitchers and centrepieces beneath a white pendant lamp.
One more bite: The hosts pulled off the menu in spite of a power outage three days prior to the party due to
Hosts: Julie Holmes, co-owner of Yoga Studio330; Dr. Tom Holmes, Cataraqui Dental Centre
Guests: Dr. Scott Brown, Kingston Dentists; Abby Gouett; Shari Brown,
physiotherapist, St. Mary’s Hospital; Dr. David Gouett, Kingston DentistsMenu: Assorted local cheese and charcuterie; salmon and steak on the barbeque; zucchini boats with chickpeas, goat cheese and walnuts; ratatouille; and green bean salad with mushrooms hazelnuts and Parmesan; with Abbadia Ardenga Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G 2003
Menu: Assorted local cheese and charcuterie; salmon and steak on the barbeque; zucchini boats with chickpeas, goat cheese and walnuts; ratatouille; and green bean salad with mushrooms hazelnuts and Parmesan; with Abbadia Ardenga Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G 2003
Décor: This lakeshore house features exposed beams and a rustic kitchen, complemented by classic and crisp details. The table was set with multiple glasses and bone china
for a layered and delicate effect, and the only hit of colour was the bright green of the lilies’ stems and leaves in the centrepieces.
One more bite: The bottle of Brunello paired with
dinner was picked up on a visit to the winery on their trip to Italy a few years ago. They’d been holding onto it for a special occasion.
Hosts: Andrew Rastapkevicius, sales agent, Lifford Wine Agency; Craig Douglas, senior account manager, Scott Environmental Services
Location: McBurney Park
Guests: Seamus Cowan, manager of The Cove Country Inn, Westport;
Zach Treanor, co-owner of Steel Style and Pig Iron BBQ, Gananoque; Jay Cameron, co-owner and chef at Pig Iron BBQ, Gananoque
Menu: P.E.I. oysters; tuna and avocado amuse-bouche; cheese board; watermelon, tuna and cherry tomato salad plate; sharp cheddar cheese home-style grits; barbeque chicken and ribs; with Joie Farm Rosé 2010, Heitz Cellar Zinfandel, Charles Smith Kung Fu
Girl Riesling and Norman Hardie Pinot Noir
Décor: The white rectangular and square dinnerware was balanced by the butcher-block presentation of the meat and cast-iron skillets for the homestyle grits. Industrial-chic elements included the reclaimed wood buffet and typography-inspired napkins.
One more bite: New recipes that will grace
the Pig Iron BBQ menu were tested on the table while Andrew poured 2007 Heitz Cellar Zinfandel blind, making everyone guess what it was first.