One of the Best Parts of a Dinner Party is the Morning-After Snacking
We had a couple of friends over this weekend, for a long, lazy cocktail hour followed by a dinner that ran hours later than we expected. The night was marked by much laughter and wine, heated discussions about the fate of the world, and a debate over the greatest SNL skits. We started with a series of snacks; spiced candied almonds, blue cheese-stuffed dates and Parmesan cheese straws to get us started. Then we ate our way through a salad of crisp radishes and sugar snap peas, grilled lamb with zhoug and tapenade, a few cheeses and brown butter pecan pie for dessert. My husband Jay and I were especially groggy Sunday morning as we woke up to a slightly trashed kitchen, countertops sticky with bourbon from a late night round of Manhattans and a sink teeming with wine glasses. But it was exactly our kind of beautiful mess; we're grateful to be able to have our friends over for dinner parties again.
Mornings like these are slow, but they come bearing a fridge full of leftovers, and the post-dinner party snacking possibilities make it all worth it. Standing in front of the open fridge with a cup of coffee in hand, I surveyed plastic containers of leftover dips, lumps of cheese wrapped in parchment (I may skip doing dishes, but I always properly tuck in my cheese for the night), and the dregs of a bowl of whipped cream. As I triaged our breakfast options, I was reminded of one of the great truths in life: Dinner party leftovers make the best breakfasts.
Some of what we find, we eat as-is. Cold fried chicken and leftover pie need no embellishment and are perfect straight from the fridge. Otherwise, we'll cobble something together. Jay will inevitably start with a few extra crostini from the appetizer platter from the night before, filching a few pieces of cheese or a smear of Camembert for a morning-after version of toast. I'll spoon fig jam or membrillo from the wreckage of the cheese plate into yogurt or a bowl of oatmeal. If I'm motivated, I might even cook a bit. Slices of prosciutto that lost their buttery softness when hastily wrapped at the end of the night are crisped up in a skillet, the meaty chips crumbled on top of eggs scrambled with a dollop of that zhoug I made for the lamb. And the bounty of extra pimiento cheese is usually enough to prompt me to bake biscuits.
We sit over the newspaper, then later, the sink and dishwasher. Together, we clean up while sharing tidbits of conversation from the night before; which friend is getting ready to quit their job or who is planning a big vacation. It's a small moment, but it's the part of the dinner party that's just for us. I inevitably spend hours planning and preparing the food for the night before; it's fun but also a whirlwind of sauce stirring and candle lighting. This bonus meal is our reward at the end; a sweet little chaser to savor at the end of the weekend.