Today's Q&A subject is a person dear to my heart: Sarah McColl, author of the fantastic site Pink of Perfection. About a year ago, Sarah and I became fast friends over glasses of rosé at a local wine bar, where we bonded over life in Brooklyn, blogging, and of course, food. "Hostess With the Mostess" is a title people throw around a lot, but Sarah is the real deal. Charming, quick with a cocktail, and a wonderful cook--I admire her style so much and always look forward to an invitation to come over to her house. Thanks for sharing your entertaining wisdom with us, Sarah!
1. Name, occupation, and city
Sarah McColl, writer, Brooklyn, NY
2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
There was a time when I was throwing dinner parties left and right, but I'm sorry to say 2010 has been a dinner party desert. The last one was in February, Danish-themed, and I invited four close friends. We drank lots of aquavit.
3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
This is a toughie. One of my fondest dinner party menus was a potluck when my friends first met my boyfriend, now husband. We had this great cheesy, artichoke torta, a big tangle of lemony arugula leaves, a cherry tomato salad with mozzarella and grilled steaks. Both the boyfriend and the supper were hits.
4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
I'm an equal opportunity tippler, but my drink choice usually depends on the weather. Winter is martini time and embarrassingly, I've been really into wine spritzers on these swelteringly hot days.
5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
Motown and '60s girl groups make me happy: Al Green, Otis Redding, The Supremes, The Marvelettes, The Chiffons. It's all a build-up to what I always hope will happen post-dinner party: an impromptu living room dance party.
6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner. What do you make?
I'd probably dash out to buy a few nibbles to have with drinks––olives, nuts––and then on a hot summer night would throw together a chicken salad served over greens with some airy French bread. For dessert, bowls of Greek yogurt, raspberries, and a drizzle of honey for everyone.
7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
I cook dinner myself, sometimes ask someone to bring dessert, and my husband runs interference as a drink-server and cocktail mixer. My favorite dinner party dishes are the sort that don't require a lot of fussing or tending. Nothing makes me sadder than having all my friends in the living room laughing and telling stories while I'm stuck in the kitchen.
8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch?
I definitely buy store-bought things, and here's my thinking: there's only so much one hostess can do. I want to enjoy myself making dinner from scratch, but I don't want to overextend myself so much that I'm frazzled when my guests arrive. If that means cutting some corners here and there so that I can set a relaxed, joyful mood, I'm all for it. I think it's important to remember that people are coming for a party, not a restaurant experience. Whether you make the ice cream or buy a pint shouldn't be a guilt trip. [Ed: So well put!]
9. What do you like to serve for dessert?
There are so few opportunities in our household of two to make cakes and tarts, that I always delight in making them for company. In summer, though, when I'm loathe to turn on the oven, I'm really into berries and ice cream.
10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be? I have a feeling Oscar Wilde would be a pretty fantastic dinner guest.