Eat in Unexpected Places

By Marsha Fottler.

A local gourmet club recently invited me to be among 40 guests who shared a six-course dinner in a fully-furnished, 6,000-square-foot model home in a luxury gated community. During the evening we wandered through the elaborately styled rooms, walked the private grounds, lingered by the moonlit pool and generally felt like we were rich people living in another land. The evening was memorable chiefly because of the imaginative venue. I bet the folks who ultimately buy that Mediterranean revival villa will never know the first glamorous party held there wasn’t hosted by them.

Chef Judi and I also recently joined about a dozen regional food writers for a glamorous meal at a chic new Hyatt resort fractional-ownership complex on Siesta Key, a barrier island off Sarasota in Southwest Florida. It was magical. Read Judi’s column for details.

In real estate it’s all about location, location, location. Often that’s true about meals.

Despite the frightening economy people are still eating in restaurants and entertaining at home. But, if dining is getting to be a bit dull you might be inspired by the gourmet club to eat in unexpected places. Friends of mine often organize casual twilight cocktail parties on their boat at the end of their dock. They don’t bother to set sail, the nautical ambiance is enough. Other people I know are staging a big harvest dinner at a long table in a farmer’s field. Guests are bringing local seasonal foods. The centerpieces will be terra cotta pots of fresh herbs.

On a more intimate scale, you could concoct a tray of tapas, pour yourself a glass of wine and eat supper from a tray in bed while watching your favorite television show. A bowl of olives, some almonds, crackers, cheese, prosciutto wrapped around asparagus and fruit such as sliced apples or figs will do. Light candles, exhale and smile before taking that first bite.

If you’ve got young children, spread a blanket on the porch floor and stage a picnic. Whatever you serve will be fun.

My neighbor told me recently that her 10-year-old son and his best buddy made themselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and then climbed up into the new tree house that his dad finished over the weekend. The little boys sat up there munching, laughing and surveying their world like princes. The mom told me she couldn’t wait to scramble up the ladder with a deli Caesar salad and see how unique lunch could be in such an exotic location.

Flavors And More – October 2009

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