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Monday, July 30, 2012

A Summertime Salad Potluck

Last Saturday I attended a super fun Potluck-Dinner-Party. It was my friend Carl's Birthday so he threw a Salad Potluck. Each guest brought at least one salad. We lined them up on a table and aside from dietary restrictions (and preferences), everyone sampled all that they could.

We came up with the idea for this party all the way back in March while on our Saratoga photo adventure. He wanted to have a dinner party this summer. I think he is a very generous home chef and deserves a break once in a while so I suggested having another potluck like the Green and Funky Food Dinners. So, he decided to use it as a theme for his Birthday!

It was saladtastic!

Top Row
1. Antipasto
2. Asian Chicken
3. Spinach, Goat Cheese, Almonds, Strawberries, Champagne Dressing
4. Cucumber Salad

Center Row
1. Zucchini Crudo
2. Fresh Corn, Tomato & Basil
3. Warm German Potato
4. Hail Kale!

Bottom Row
1. Cesar
2. Macaroni
3. Greek
4. Fresh Fruit Fondue

And even though he had reservations about using Evite, I convinced him it was the best choice to allow each guest to share what kind of salad they would be bringing so he could avoid duplications without having to micro-manage guests suggestions.

"Please bring your signature salad dish and post which type of salad you plan to bring here with your R.S.V.P. so we can avoid ending up with 7 Caesars and 11 bowls of pasta. Use your imagination and feel free to think outside the leafy green box...or should I say bowl. :-)"

Very cool. Carl thought ahead and had printed salad name tags in place when we arrived with our salads so there was no confusion as to where they went.

One hard thing about attending any kind of potluck is they can be particularly difficult for those with food allergies. It's bad enough when someone breaks out in hives but then there's the kind that make people go into anaphylactic shock and die if they eat even one bite of a nut or seafood.

I've always asked dinner guests if they're allergic to anything so I can omit it from my menu that evening. In the case of a potluck I think it makes a lot of sense to print signs like the sample above that take consideration for your guests to a whole new level. List only the ingredients your guests are sensitive to. When people bring their dish they can simply circle which ones are or aren't in their dish. Those with the allergies can tell at a glance what is safe for them to eat! I think it's a kind of brilliant idea.

This would also work for food preferences. For example, you could simply list: Meat, Eggs, Dairy for vegetarians and vegans.

It was a huge success! Carl really knows how to entertain. I saw old friends and made new ones too! There was more than enough food and since everyone brought their salads in a bowl, they were able to easily take any leftovers home with them too. 

This was my plate. I ate some of every salad then had seconds and thirds of my favorites.

Robert and Carl

As a special surprise Carl decided to have an informal contest with prizes! After sampling all of them we each voted for our favorite three salads. Robert won twice! His Asian Chicken Salad came in 1st, Joe and Diane's Fresh Corn, Tomato and Basil salad came in 2nd, and Robert's Warm German Potato Salad came in third!

For me, the evening was extra special because every time Carl has ever invited me over for dinner he's invited hubby too. But hubby always declines because he's a really picky eater who likes super simple food. So imagine our shock when not only did he accept the dinner invitation, he decided to bring three salads with him! He made his favorite Cesar, Greek and Cucumber salads.

Hubby ate five kinds of salad and strawberries for dessert!

People really liked the Cucumber Salad. In fact he struck up a conversation with another guest going on and on about how he used a special sea salt, imported from Finland, dried and crushed by elderly women. But wait, there was more. He spun his yarn that after crushing, the salt is then placed in burlap sacks that are put into wooden kegs to absorb their flavor. In the end he admitted it wasn't true. It was just his attempt to mock foodies like Carl and I. LOL. At least he found a way to have some fun and amuse himself.

While I was marveling that hubby was there at all the Birthday Boy was just hanging out listening to music.

We enjoyed a great performance by The Pepperlanders.

Make that live music! The Pepperlanders are William Mezzell, Doug Montgomery and Mike Duffy. They're a Beatles cover band. They serenaded us most of the evening singing all kinds of classics any Beatles or non-Beatles fan would recognize. It added a very special touch to the party. You can hear them too by Clicking Here.

During and after dinner we all eventually ended up around the fire pit. It wasn't your typical Birthday party. It was fun, delicious and unique. The party was a huge success and I'm sure this was just the first of many salad potlucks to come at Carl's house. You should plan your own while summer is still in full swing!

BTW, I wish we had a fire pit in our yard. In fact I wish we would have a BBQ or two each season. There's a wonderful sense of camaraderie that occurs around a fire. Maybe we'll have one this year. Definitely next year :)

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