With spring in full swing, our Style Editor Victoria de la Camara, puts together a brunch that is full of fresh ingredients, wild flowers, and simple materials.
When I lived in New York, brunch was a sacred weekend ritual. I’d skip the late nights out to enjoy a 1pm bloody mary and fish tacos at my favorite local spot with friends. I also did (and still do!) a lot of entertaining at home in the evenings (the whole wine & cheese thing is my favorite) but rarely would I have them over during the day. I had in my mind that brunch was a thing best enjoyed at a restaurant and wine at home. So I decided to challenge myself a little and host a slightly more elaborate brunch for some of my friends here in Madrid.
The term “elaborate” is a bit misleading: the idea was to create a mood and put a little bit more effort than I usually did, but not to go as far as Eddie Ross’ gorgeous but unreplicable tablescapes. So often in photoshoots, we do things to create an interesting concept for the photos, but in reality aren’t something that we’d do in our own homes. A few thoughtful details (such as the jute twine tied around the napkins) is enough. In the end, I think that the simpler, the better.
I really wanted everything to feel fresh. I skipped the prim and proper peonies and tulips and went for a lush arrangement of wild flowers. The menu was made completely from scratch and comprised of twists on classic breakfast dishes:
- Almond and oat granola, greek yogurt, and sautéed strawberries and raspberries
- Gruyere scrambled eggs on toast, Caesar salad, bacon and asparagus
- Rosemary and cucumber Juleps
As much as I’d like to say that it was a breeze, it was definitely a lot of effort. Here are my top 7 tips for hosting a smooth and enjoyable brunch:
- Do as much as possible ahead of time. I can’t say this enough, but it is the rule of law to hosting a great event. Have the table set, vegetables chopped, sauces made, the night before. That way you can wake up, cook a little bit, and have time to take a shower before people arrive.
- Try something completely new! But do a practice round a few days before so that you can learn from your first mistakes.
- Be clear about timing. For a cocktail party, it is ok for guests to show up half an hour late. But when it comes to hungry people and you trying to keep everything hot and delicious, guests who are late can really cause tension. Let them know that this is an occasion to be punctual.
- Simple but thoughtful is better. I finally bought plates from Menu that I have been lusting after for quite some time. They don’t have patterns, nor are they any extravagant color. They are white perfection, and that allows us to focus on the food.
- Have a snack ready in case you do have to wait for someone who is a bit late. Guests tend to come hungry so something light (I put a couple of plates of olive tapenade on crackers) will do the trick.
- Have just one great cocktail to offer guests. It keeps it simple, and in the end your friends will have a great time. Of course it’s also good to have a cold bottle of white wine and beer for those who prefer another option.
- Let people serve themselves. And be the first to serve yourself! You want your guests to feel comfortable, so make everything feel as casual as possible. The mix of great food, a thought out table setting, and a low key attitude will create the perfect setting for a good time.