Let the good times roll: a Mardi Gras gath­er­ing

Choose a Cre­ole and Ca­jun-in­spired menu with seafood at the cen­tre

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - MARY CAROL GARRITY

I have never been so thank­ful for hor­ri­ble icy weather as I was on a spe­cial Fat Tues­day a few years ago, when the car’s in­abil­ity to get trac­tion on the high­way scored me an in­vite to one heck of a Mardi Gras party.

I was out shop­ping with girl­friends when the weather turned bad, so my friend Brenda, who lived nearby, in­vited us to spend the night. It just so hap­pened she was at­tend­ing a Mardi Gras party that night, and in­vited us to come crash the bash.

Our hosts, Ann and Guy, were big-hearted peo­ple who were al­ways look­ing for an ex­cuse to have fun. You felt like a royal guest in their home, be­cause Ann didn’t spare any de­tail when it came to dec­o­rat­ing or din­ing, and their warm per­son­al­i­ties en­veloped you in friend­ship. (Ann lost her bat­tle to can­cer a few years back, and I miss her des­per­ately. But her zest for life lives on in those of us who had the priv­i­lege of know­ing her, and in­spires me still to cel­e­brate each and ev­ery mo­ment.)

Ann and Guy’s Mardi Gras din­ner started out as a way to beat cabin fever, and grew into an an­tic­i­pated an­nual event that was as much fun as you can have this side of Bour­bon Street. Ann knew how to set the stage for her parties, let­ting you know the minute you walked in the door that you were in for a good time. She turned the but­ler’s ta­ble in her en­try into a bar, stocked with ev­ery­thing you’d need to have a good time, from Mardi Gras masks and beads, to tall glasses of New Orleans vodka freezes.

The magic at this party hap­pened in the din­ing room, around a ta­ble set to stun. Coloured beads dan­gle from the chan­de­lier, like they’ve been tossed by a pass­ing float in a Mardi Gras pa­rade.

An an­tique cen­tre­piece holds tiny bou­quets of fresh flow­ers, masks and glasses filled with Mardi Gras beads. Each guest’s chair is also play­fully dec­o­rated with beads and masks.

When you put a place card at each guest’s seat, you let them know you were ex­cited for them to join you. Ann zipped up plain card stock with a few stick­ers — easy! Each place set­ting is lay­ered in Mardi Gras colours, play­ful and a bit mys­te­ri­ous.

The side­board car­ries on the theme set on the din­ner ta­ble. All it took was drap­ing strands of beads around the bank of can­dles. The din­ing ta­ble is beau­ti­fully re­flected in the large mir­ror rest­ing atop the lovely old chest. Be­cause the ta­ble was filled to the brim, Ann opted to serve the soup from the buf­fet.

For the long­est time, Ann was a mem­ber of the I-can’t-cook-tosave-my-life club with me. Then she be­came a gourmet. The menu for this event was amaz­ing: sun-dried tomato and goat cheese na­chos, seafood cakes with Cre­ole sauce, crab bisque, oven-roasted Ca­jun shrimp and corn, and New Orleans king cake.

This Mardi Gras, I will raise a glass to my dear friend Ann, for all the light and joy she brought into my life. I want to en­cour­age you to open your home to friends on this fun-filled night, and let the good times roll as you make mem­o­ries that will last a life­time, too.

HAND­OUT, TNS

Coloured beads dan­gle from the chan­de­lier, like they’ve been tossed by a pass­ing float in a Mardi Gras pa­rade.

HAND­OUT, TNS

Ann and Guy’s Mardi Gras din­ner started out as a way to beat cabin fever, and grew into an an­tic­i­pated an­nual event that was as much fun as you can have this side of Bour­bon Street.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.