This year, my party planning was thrown off by a kitchen island renovation, and it’s taken me a little while to channel my creative energy and get back to entertaining. It seems this has also been the year that most of my group (including myself) scheduled a much needed vacation after the long pandemic concerns, making it harder to get the group together. Fortunately, we’ve all settled down and I’ll have a full table of guests for this year’s Friendsgiving.
Each year I try to draw from a fruit and/or a color that inspires my table decor and menu. Last year apples were the theme. This year I was inspired by the bouquets of purple, burgundy, maroon, blush, plum, and cream flowers at the market and chose to create a “figgy plum” themed table and menu.
I tend to pick fruits, flowers or vegetables that are in season for about two weeks before my scheduled party and then they are nowhere to be found the actual week of my event! A good plan always requires a little flexibility, but I was thrilled to find a few plums the week before and fresh figs the day before my event. The universe has been kind and given me everything I imagined.
Braided placemat, gold charger, Royal Stafford pheasant dinner plates (England), black “cmg” bowls (Portugal), purple table runner and cloth napkins all from Homegoods.
A week prior to the scheduled event, I stocked up on what I could find and stored everything in the refrigerator (including flowers). I could only find small plums (but dark black plums were nowhere to be found) and plumcots. As an alternative, large seedless black grapes provided that moody dark plum color I wanted to achieve. Figs are so perishable I had to wait until the day before the luncheon to purchase them.
These copper bowls with floral oasis (hot glued to the bottom) and chicken wire were used for the centerpieces. The bowls had an original tag on the bottom from Thirstystone for $33.00 each, but at Homegoods they were $6.99 each. Always love a Homegoods deal!
THE TABLE DECOR
Silver bowls collected from antique stores and Rachel Zoe plum colored cut glass with citrus scented candles from Homegoods. (The breakfast table.)
I have ten guests (eleven including myself). I can sit ten tightly at my dining room table, but not eleven – for more comfort I’m setting up three, myself and two of my helpers) at the breakfast table on the other side of the room. We are up and down so much from serving and taking dishes away, that it’s less disruptive to the main table and easier if we are together. None of these events could succeed without the loving help of my sister team of Lanie and Caryl.
While we were sitting at a separate table there were no shortcuts when decorating it. I wanted my two friends (also my guests) to enjoy the same beautiful rich colors of the flowers, fruits and candle just like the others. So the breakfast table had all of the same elements.
THE PLUM FRENCH BRANDY SANGRIA
Three to five days before the event, start the plum brandy. I used an extra large mason jar that could be sealed tightly. Place one plum and one plumcot (sliced into wedges), two cinnamon sticks and two star anise into two cups of French brandy (I used Trader Joe’s). Store in the refrigerator to macerate.
- Plum brandy (above chilled)
- 1 bottle of Rioja or other red wine (chilled)
- 1 25 oz bottle of sparkling water (chilled)
- 2 to 3 cups of chilled apple cider (chilled)
One day before serving, mix all of the ingredients and divide into two large jars or pitchers. Place half of two sliced plums, two sliced plumcots, a handful of black grapes (halved) into each container and allow all of the ingredients to macerate for at least 24 hours.
One hour prior guests’ arrival prepare the glasses: Fill each with sliced plums, pomegranate seeds, blackberries, black seedless grapes, fresh rosemary. When the guests arrive as host you can fill each glass with sangria or allow guests to fill their own glass.
Optional : One hour prior to your guests arrival, pour both containers into a beverage dispenser so guest can self serve and refill their glasses.
THE CHARCUTERIE BOARD
A nibble board for guests to enjoy with their sangria while waiting for everyone to arrive. It’s always a good idea to have a little something to eat while drinking alcohol.
FIGGY PLUM MENU
AUTUMN CRUNCH SALAD WITH QUINOA
WITH FIG BALSAMIC DRESSING
The recipe will be shared in an upcoming edition of “Simply Elevated”.
ROASTED SWEET POTATO AND FIG SOUP WITH CRAB
Those who are familiar with Erin French of The Lost Kitchen will recognize this method for serving soup. The bowls were set out across my kitchen island filled with a mound of fresh Louisiana lump crab, microgreens, edible flowers, a swirl of lime creme fraiche and a parmesan crisp. After the salad course, a bowl was placed in front of each guest with instructions to wait for the soup to be poured.
The soup that was prepared two days before was reheated. The juice of a lime was added and some heavy cream. The hot soup was ladled into a white pitcher and poured into each bowl at tableside (Erin French style).
The recipe for this can be found in the most recent Simply Elevated post (Fall Soup)
DESSERT: PLUM, FIG AND FRANGIPANE TART
WITH FRESH WHIPPED CREAM
To end the meal, I made simple puffed pastry tarts cut into squares filled with frangipane, fig butter, sliced plums and one slice of fresh fig with the corners pulled together over the top. All were prepped before everyone arrived and placed in the refrigerator until the soup course was served.
During that course the trays were pulled from the refrigerator, brushed with egg wash, sprinkled with chocolate sea salt and baked 25 minutes. Fresh from the oven each placed on a plate, dusted with a mixture of powdered sugar and Chinese five spice with a side of fresh Chinese five spice whipped cream.
This very low sugar fresh fruit dessert was a great way to end our fall themed menu, featuring the end of season plums and figs while filled with gratitude for another year of books and wine shared with these special friends in a celebration of Friendsgiving.