Lazy Sunday afternoons are my favorite time to gather people together. I have some sweet memories of when I was a kid and my parents would sometimes pack up my brother and me and head over to a friends house. My Father was in the antique business for the better part of my growing up, and a lot of his friends were in the business as well. In those days the wives were housewives and stayed home and watched Julia Child in the afternoon and then prepared elaborate meals for the evening. Entertaining was a wife’s domain and her pride. Putting out a luscious spread was their art and career. Those were the type of homes that we would visit.
You could count on walking into homes that smelled of good coffee, where The New York Times was strewn about, and opera or classical music played in the background. On the cocktail table would be delights, such as cheeses or pastries, to nibble on while the grown ups chatted. I’ve always loved stinky cheeses and crusty breads, and to lay on couches and eavesdrop on my Father’s business chats with his friends was heaven. I’ve always loved business talk and I learned quite a bit from nestling in the corner of that couch while the other kids ran around the yard. I could play at home all I wanted, but I loved the language and the calculations and the camaraderie that the adults shared.
Of course this would later manifest in my going into my own businesses, and as a result it felt as natural as falling off a log.
Though when it comes to entertaining, I have learned that the less fussing the better. I mean, sure, fuss away before guests arrive, but once the gathering has begun, I like to visit and relax. I often keep things at the ready too. To look in my cupboard or freezer you would think that I had a family of 8 (and don’t think I haven’t heard a word or two about it), but at the drop of a hat, I can pull out this and that and make a meal or snack- AND make Julia proud.
One quick and wonderful snack is this one above, which is also one of those delightful combinations that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The spread is feta cheese that is whipped into submission with a little milk and garlic then laced with the best olive oil in the house. The tomatoes are simply tossed with a little oil and vinegar, but it’s the fresh hit of mint that sets this all into balance. If tomatoes are not available, cucumbers or some other juicy vegetable can work to offset the saltiness of the feta.
Lastly, flat bread is brushed with some oil and toasted. This really brings this all to life. A crunchy bread giving way to a soft inside is the perfect platform for this dish. Pile up some prosciutto to add to the party and then sit back and relax.