Three words that never fail to delight me:
Girls Night In.
GNI means you get to enjoy gal pals at your leisure somewhere pretty and relaxed. There’s no jostling for space and no distractions from the outside world.
There’s also no hefty bar or restaurant tabs to deal with at the night’s end — only a gentle walk (or ride from designated driver) home.
Two ladies invited me over to their house this weekend for a GNI. I hadn’t seen them in ages, and they told me I could bring a couple friends, too.
And because I have the world’s best pals, my invitees came armed with many bottles of wine, yummy appetizers and homemade cookies (no hospitality slouches in my world).
My friends were immediately swept up in a wave of their hospitality and I was so happy to see new friendships blossom in front of my eyes.
Must first, a house tour.
Everyone I know seems to love good design, and my pals live in a beautiful house with so many gorgeous details.
Portlanders are an amazingly open lot — and rarely am I not offered a tour when I go to someone’s house for the first time.
It’s not like houses here are over-the-top, it’s just that Portlanders tend to be both crafty and house-proud; consequently, they tend to be all too happy to talk about work on their houses, treasures they’ve found and DIY projects they’ve finished.
My pals live in a beautiful Craftsman filled with antiques and photos and there was not one detail that wasn’t perfect — even the dog’s towel was pristinely washed, folded and labelled.
We then went outside to their newly finished patio with our wine glasses and cocktails and I was entranced by the copious bushes of hydrangeas that surrounded us.
The seven of us sat at a massive glass table (each with our own supremely comfortable padded chair) and got to the business of serious chill-axing.
I brought out my Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta with White Bean Puree, Basil and Smoked Almonds.
A white bean puree is the easiest thing in the world to make: just drain a can of good cannellini beans and throw in a blender or Cuisinart with lots of lemon zest and juice, a garlic clove, a glug of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper (I also like to add a bit of dried fennel to mine). Done.
While someone refreshed the drinks, I threw my Yukon Gold potatoes in the oven.
Right after I took this picture I reserved the fresh herbs for after roasting and then drizzled some homemade saffron oil over them.
Into the oven at 425 they went, and 30 minutes later I added one pound of sliced Spanish chorizo to the pan, gave the potatoes a stir, and then cooked for another 10 minutes until everything was tender yet crispy.
My Roasted Yukon Golds with Chorizo and Saffron Oil were inhaled so fast that I didn’t get a picture until they were almost gone.
And as if we weren’t full enough, the hostess brought out a round of Oven Roasted Shrimp (in a delicious herb sauce).
It was fabulous, and I think we ate every single shrimp on the platter.
And before you knew it, five hours had flown by and it was time to hit the hay.
See how easy Girls Night In can be?
Grab whatever looks good at the market, throw it on great toast or roast it in the oven while you pour a round of drinks.
Put out some nuts and just revel in all those happy faces around you.
Don’t worry how impressive your spread is; your pals are probably just so grateful to have someone else doing the organizing (and clean up).
So thanks, all you lovely lasses — you know who you are.