There’s no reason a night spent watching DVDs at home with friends has to be a cop-out. Leave the rubbery turkey and powdery mashed potatoes to Swanson and the hungry men and embrace the classier side of TV dining.
Wines: Dog House Checkers’ 2003 Cab and Maxie’s 2004 Merlot; Fat Bastard Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot
Cocktails: Chinatown-tini, L.A. Confidential and Hpnotiq & 7
Appetizers: spring rolls with Thai dipping sauce and garden-fresh dip with wonton crisps
Main course: Asian pork skewers and five-spice slow cooker chicken dinner
First step: the menu. Remember, guests will be eating in the dark, so best to choose a selection of dishes that won’t require much cutting or coordination. Other than that, this is your chance to express some culinary creativity. Why not match your bill of fare to the evening’s playbill and serve up some Moroccan delicacies alongside Casablanca. Or pair a Bruce Lee kung fu classic with a menu inspired by the Orient, including delights like five-spice chicken.
Second step: presentation. Eating off your lap doesn’t have to be a treacherous balancing act. Sturdy, hard placemats make great, inexpensive TV trays and allow your guests to enjoy their meal and the movie unencumbered.
Who wants to be fetching guests drinks while the movie is rolling? Let them serve themselves. Nesting tables effortlessly transform into an instant wine bar: Just set out your fave vintages, such as Dog House Checkers’ 2003 Cab and Maxie’s 2004 Merlot or Fat Bastard Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, and sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
What’s a swanky movie night without a touch of old Hollywood? Channel your inner Bogie or Bacall with some classy cocktails served in timeless crystal barware by Waterford Crystal. For a modern twist, add exotic liqueurs, such as Pama pomegranate liqueur and Hpnotiq, to traditional recipes for a drink menu worthy of Sunset Boulevard. Don’t stop there. Name your concoctions in keeping with the cinematic theme: Stock your bar with all the fixings for a Chinatown-tini, or recast a classic Tom Collins as an L.A. Confidential. Also, as with the wine, keep all necessary ingredients close at hand in your “theatre” so that guests can get refills without missing a moment of the main attraction.
Having trouble picking your flicks? Check out these great double features.
• It’s tough on top: Citizen Kane (1941) and The Godfather (1972).
• Love hurts: West Side Story (1961) and Romeo + Juliet (1996).
• I love New York: Annie Hall (1977) and When Harry Met Sally... (1989).
• Remember when: Singles (1992) and Reality Bites (1994).
• Country-fried crime: Fargo (1996) and Hot Fuzz (2007).
• Gotta dig Scorsese: Taxi Driver (1976) and GoodFellas (1990).
• European fantasy: Life Is Beautiful (1997) and Amélie (2001).
• Prison break: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Out of Sight (1998).
• Trouble in Tinseltown: Chinatown (1974) and L.A. Confidential (1997).
• Don’t do drugs: Midnight Express (1978) and Trainspotting (1996).
An in-house concession stand will satisfy both your candy-crazed inner child as well as your refined adult palate. Strawberry- and black-licorice Twizzlers are an age-old favourite and add height and graphic drama to the sugary spread. Hershey’s Special Dark bars not only taste delicious—rich and velvety, with a hint of sweetness—but are also a natural source of antioxidants. Cashews have their health benefits as well: The tasty little nuts contain oleic acid, which is good for your heart. Your friends won’t be able to resist Ed’s gorp for grown-ups either, made of equal parts yogurt-covered raisins, orange-flavoured dried cranberries and Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Ed’s Party Tips
• Turning your living space into a sophisticated theatre is easier than you think. Red velvet curtain panels draped from floor to ceiling not only capture that rich, luxurious feel of a grand, old theatre, but also add an amazing acoustic to any room.
• Everyone loves the classic simplicity of a vase of calla lilies, but those top-heavy stems just never seem to stay put! Here’s a helpful trick: fill the bottom of your vase with newspaper to anchor the flowers in place.
• Keep pesky popcorn kernels off the couch by thinking outside the bowl. A teacup can serve double duty as both popcorn scoop and bowl.
• Add some sparkle to your coffee table and let guests know what’s in store by showcasing your evening’s bill in an elegant marquee centrepiece. It’s easy: Track down vintage movie posters online, print them to size and display them in a double frame like the one above by Vera Wang for Wedgwood.
Behind the Scenes
This supporting cast will make sure everything runs smoothly in the kitchen.
Take things slow
Even the most casual affair can leave its host feeling overwhelmed. Minimize stress with the six-quart Oster slow cooker. Its preprogrammed controls and self-timer take the effort out of catering. Once you have switched it on, your job is done: The warm setting will automatically activate when cooking is complete, so the food will be ready to serve when you’re ready to serve it.
Fast food at home
Everyone deserves to indulge their inner fast-food junkie once in a while, right? The Rival three-litre deep fryer with 1,500-watt stainless steel immersion heating element will satisfy any crispy-snack attack, plus its easy-to-clean removable parts help keep greasy messes to a minimum.
From fresh dips to frozen drinks, the 18-speed Oster digital brushed-nickel blender delivers. Not only is it powerful—450 watts strong—but it also looks great in its stylish brushed-nickel skirt.
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