Showing posts with label pool party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pool party. Show all posts

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gala Parfait: Tiki Party

Tiki has become something special to me over the years.
It is not just a kitschy party theme, type of cloyingly sweet drank, or dive bar category. Bizarrely enough it's filed alongside heavyweights like Christmas and New Year's as an important family tradition. Yes, my parents, sister and I do Tiki. And if I do say so myself, we do it damn well.

Initially, the end of summer Tiki Party at my parents' home in Tucson was a heavily-anticipated annual celebration. A break from large family gatherings brimming with kids ("we love your keikis, but this one is for adults"), and the rare party to really have a focus on drinking. Since I was college-aged when the Tiki Party debuted, I was not only surprised by this, but fully on board! Each year seemed to one-up the prior, adding a pit-roasted whole pig, ukelele orchestra, and even tradition hula dancers in full garb. It was a fantastic tradition.

Then one year the invite never went out. Then another year. The masses were restless, when would there be another Tiki Party? I tried to sate myself in California with regular visits to Tiki Ti, Tonga Room, Trader Sam's and with a big fat Tiki episode on my podcast The Table Set, but it wasn't enough. Once I found out my sister Megan missed it as much as me we conspired to convince my parents by any means necessary to bring it back.

Then this year... we finally succeeded.

It's always a whirlwind driving home to Arizona and jumping in to the preparations. It's also always startling opening the fridge in the garage to see Laura Palmer as a pig, awaiting the sacrificial pyre.

Day of, first thing's first - Get that pig going. It takes all afternoon to get a proper tender slow-cooked Kalua-style pig.

The photo opp murals Megan painted are always a hit.

And while the tables are set, I have my hands full with another task.

Shocking, I know - I manage the bar. With the addition of the bamboo tiki hut-style bar this year, things got serious.

Selecting a menu is hardly an easy task. Each year we debate, recounting drink popularity from the previous parties. The true Mai Tai is our collective favorite, but seems to be too boozy for our guests, as we always have the most leftover of it. The Blue Hawaiian is garish, but always a winner. We pre-mix everything in large batches as well, so the recipe has to work in that format - and some ingredients, such as bitters, intensify over time. This year I decided to select all new drinks; Classics that cover very different flavor profiles as well as liquor variety. No need to be rum snobs - It's just not for everybody.

In lieu of the signature Mai Tai I went out on a limb with South Pacific Punch, a potent blend of dark and light rums, fresh orange and lime juices, Falernum and passion fruit syrup. Not for the faint of heart, I think the profile of the spicy Falernum is what set this drink apart.

To satisfy the sweet drink lovers, instead of a neon blue concoction (I just can't get down with Blue Curaçao) I opted for the popular Chi Chi, a vodka-based riff on the Piña Colada with coconut cream, pineapple juice and a dust of nutmeg. Sometimes simplicity is best.

For the first time we introduced a bourbon-based tiki drink, which turned out to be the crowd favorite, the ominous-sounding Polynesian Paralysis. Akin to a Hawaiian-style Mai Tai, this one blends pineapple and citrus juices with orgeat, which marry nicely with the bourbon for a dangerously smooth sipper.

We always try to think of creative ways to keep designated drivers and non-drinkers in on the fun, and this year hibiscus lemonade and tropical iced tea just wasn't going to cut it, so I whipped up a non-alcoholic tiki classic Rainbow Punch. Here pineapple, orange, and lime juices are blended with grenadine, soda, and bitters for a well-disguised virgin.

It was an exhausting night of shaking drinks, so I was happy to have some relief long enough to get in on the Kalua pig and Polynesian potluck before it was all gone.

Perlana, one of the "best dressed" winners enjoys a Chi Chi.

Yes, no matter how much math and careful planning goes into our batch drink making, we always over-do it and have SO much leftover. Not a huge complaint, but it suffices to say that Tiki Party turns into Tucson Tiki WEEK. Aw well, maybe we'll get it right next year... Oh yes, there will be a next year.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gala Parfait: Pool Party

I've never been good at juggling.
At some point I guess I just stopped trying because after bruising so much fruit, I thought hey better to just eat this apple.
But in life I grew pretty adept at it. An over-achieving high school student who opted for a full college course load plus three jobs, sometimes a band... to a full-time career, a food blog, busy lifestyle... and sometimes a band. But age and energy are funny things. I remember when five hours of sleep was enough, and hangovers lasted but a few pesky morning hours. I recall lightning quick reflexes and prose that spilt from the pen with ease.

You may have noticed the Chocolate of Meats lightening in load. I suppose that's natural. Sure, life gets in the way sometimes, but also it's become a saturated market - The numbers don't tug at my conscience to use this forum to keep my public up to date with every happening about town (but that's what Twitter is for, right?). I enjoy it when I can, or when the experience rings with a truth I am called to share. I'm looking at blogger responsibility in a new light.

So back to juggling. If you follow ChocoMeat then you've also probably noticed me increasingly mention my podcast The Table Set with Greg of Sippitysup and Andy of Wind Attack. We were invited to participate in this venture by the venerable Joy the Baker, which in all honesty is when I threw out the analytics and stopped questioning whether I had something to offer the world or not. Of course I did, and no longer just through my bourbon-stained blog. Thank you, Homefries.

The point of all of this, really, was to express that The Table Set has been allowing me to explore ChocoMeat's interests on a larger scale. Now once a week I get to talk about parties. Thoughtful entertaining, from small to large scale. Creating experiences. And of course what drink to pair it all with.

Our premiere podcast was about throwing a winning pool party. So when we discussed actually throwing a first-ever Table Set event to tie up summer, what better way?? Check it out.

For the party, I whipped up this version of the San Francisco prohibition classic Pisco Punch, made by infusing Pisco (a strong Peruvian spirit made from distilling fermented grapes) with fresh pineapple in place of traditional pineapple gum syrup. While you can discard the pineapple after infusing the Pisco, if you want a REAL party, toss them in the punch bowl like I did. Just warn your guests!

Pisco Punch
Adapted from Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club via New York Magazine

2 (750-ml) bottles of pisco capel
2 pineapples
4 limes, zested
32 oz simple syrup, chilled
2 white grapefruit
32 oz fresh lemon juice
2 l club soda
mint sprigs for garnish, optional
fresh hibiscus blossoms for garnish, optional

Make the pineapple Pisco: Cut pineapple into 1/2-inch chunks, and put into a large covered jar. Add the Pisco. Cover, shake to agitate, and refrigerate for 3 days.
Make the lime syrup: Add the lime zest to 16 ounces of cold simple syrup. Cover, shake to agitate, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Strain away zest and store in refrigerator.
Make the grapefruit syrup: Add the grapefruit zest to remaining 16 ounces of cold simple syrup. Cover, shake to agitate, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Strain away zest and store in refrigerator.
Make the punch: In large bowl, combine pineapple infused Pisco and all of the pineapple chunks, lime syrup, grapefruit syrup, and lemon juice. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Pour in the club soda and add a large ice block into bowl just before serving. Garnish with mint sprigs and fresh hibiscus blossoms.

Listen to the Table Set here!
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