Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kirby Cove dinner party

This past weekend I threw a party at Kirby Cove, the beach at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Kirby Cove, in all its damp foggy glory

The idea came from the blog Oh Happy Day, and I ran with the concept of a formal outdoor dinner. How could I not? I had the reservation for the day use spot, I had white tablecloths, and I had friends that are up for some adventure.

The reason this turned out to be a slammin' party, I think (by which I mean I had happy full drunk guests), was that it combined the fun of a casual bbq with the specialness of a sitdown dinner party. People were as goofy as ever, but they also felt like they had been given a gift - they commented on the food, the company, and, of course the setting. It also didn't hurt that my friends are charming wonderful people who got along famously, even those who hadn't met before.

I've discovered two things about myself recently: I love planning parties, and I really love doing so using spreadsheets. Give me a way to keep track of everything I need and everything I have to do, and I'm a happy, minimally anxious planner. And so it went with this party: I couldn't plan for everything - I didn't realize that we'd have to haul the supplies in from the parking lot into the site with wheelbarrows, for instance - but everything that was in my control was fully PWND.
The picnic/prep area

Despite some of the thickest fog I've seen, a ton of guests (25!), only 4 parking passes, and a good amount of chaos, we pulled it off. Boy howdy did we.
See the dinner table away up on the right?

I got to Kirby Cove with a car full of supplies early on Saturday afternoon and started setting up. At the top of the Marin Headlands it was epically windy and foggy, but the cove was protected. A few guests tromped in - I had told everyone we had the site for the whole day - and we prepped food, sang along to 90s R&B, and drank cocktails. Even better: over the course of the afternoon, many many oysters got shucked and slurped.

The view from the dinner table

As more and more people showed up (some hiked in carrying wine bottles!), we set out the first nibbles. Some people wandered the beach, others took pictures or stood around and chatted, and I made a brief foray into the water (just up to my knees - this is the Pacific after all). We discovered that the battery powered lights I had were too short to string up, so we wore them on our heads like fairy crowns.
Fairy lights, a puppy, and gorgeous floral arrangements

Finally I ushered everyone up to the bluff where the dinner table was set up. I was too overstimulated to do a good job of taking photos until just before we all sat down to dinner, but I think you'll get the idea. I had hauled in my jadeite salt shakers, a cake tray, ceramic serving dishes, etc. A friend put together beautiful white flower arrangements in mason jars, and my mismatched cloth napkins somehow came together.
A table with a view

During the picnic portion, we ate:
  • oysters, raw and barbecued
  • caprese salad (with a friend's ridiculously good homemade herb salt)
  • grilled peaches and halloumi with honey
While seated:
  • watermelon, mint and feta salad
  • lentil salad with tomatoes, jalapeno and fresh corn
  • quinoa salad with shrimp
  • grilled asparagus
  • eggplant, tomato and zucchini tarts in three iterations: vegetarian, gluten free, and with bacon (guess which was best)
  • grilled flank steak with chimichurri
  • coconut layer cake
And, of course, lots of wine. 
The foghorns went off every few minutes, and we were so surrounded by mist it was like eating in a cloud. Of the lovely thank you emails I got the next day, the most common description was "magical". Fog, I owe you one!

I hope it's ok for me to say so, but it was a damn fine party.


Tina S said...

fucking beautiful. makes me sick to have missed out for tutoring and work :/ I need to re-examine my priorities, clearly.

mindy said...

you forgot to mention the hilarious racoons and their stealthy ways. beth almost lost her cake carrier FOREVER.

Karina Salehi said...

How did you manage to get the long table? This looks amazing and I'd love to do something similar for a gathering I have planned for September :)

GGB said...

We just dragged all the picnic tables together!