So we had our second ever party at the wooden apartment on Christmas Eve. Knowing this, you also know that I scouted recipes and schemed for weeks over what to bake. Part of me loves tradition, but the wiser part of me said, "It's 35 C and your AC is weak. Do you really want the oven on THAT long?" I had to agree with her, and so I scaled back my ambitious plans in favor of things that are both easy AND a nod to tradition. We gave up on turkey, stuffing, homemade rolls, etc. I didn't bake elaborate desserts or stuff appetizers for hours. Instead, we did brunch, that wonderful Western invention that allows us to eat all the best parts of both breakfast and lunch in the same sitting.
The final menu was:
Clove-studded ham with a brown sugar-honey-cayenne-orange glaze
Boozy (and a child-friendly version) baked sticky French toast
Watermelon Caprese salad
A green salad with tuna (thanks to my next door neighbor who has a salad spinner!)
A fruit salad (brought by friends who cleverly improvised a lid using a clean shower cap!)
Impossible Spinach, Bacon and Cheese quiche
Cheese plate and snacks
Christmas cookies (made by the kiddos) and Bestest Chocolate Chip cookies
(Recipes can be found on my food blog, Elegant Domesticity.)
While the weather outside WAS frightful (for snowmen), our AC unit did its job. We had to shut the door and windows to the kitchen, which, with the oven on since about 9 am, felt like it was well over 100 degrees! Our guest list included a handful of friends and acquaintances from the area and the building who didn't have family in Rio. We hailed from six different countries* and barely anyone knew anyone else, which is actually a great way to throw a party, as people are sort of forced to interact and mingle.
Having awoken that morning with a cold, I couldn't smell or taste the food, which was a huge letdown. I enjoy the menu planning as much for myself as for wowing people, and it was a disappointment not to be able to enjoy the flavors of the Frangelico French toast or the cranberry-limoncello cocktails I'd planned. Still, it was a great party, a wonderful way to get to know new people, make friends and laugh. It still didn’t feel too much like Christmas, but Rio does feel a little more like home now, less like extended vacation. It’s been a long time since I’ve had honest to goodness neighbors!
*Brazil, Canada, Italy, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the United States.