Meal and a Spiel Launch Party: It’s Official

Now that the party has been thrown, it’s official. The Meal and a Spiel website has been launched and it is waiting with bells and whistles in the world wide web for you to use. It was envisioned for you. Created for you. Shared for you.

But let’s talk the party.

I teach cooking classes out of my parents beautiful home and my mom just happens to be the best non-professional party planner I know. (She should do it professionally.) So we decided to treat Meal and a Spielers, who usually come to cook and learn, as guests of a party with overflowing food and drink. Each was encouraged to bring a friend or lover.

Here’s a tour of the launch event, and my mother and my recipes for throwing a fabulous party!

My mom always has party favors for her guests, even for small dinner parties, and we let the guest see them as they walk in. This way they know how special we think they are right from the start.

We printed the recipes for Gorgonzola Walnut Crostini and Chiantishire Blackberries, rolled them into a logo stamped mug, wrapped them in celofane and tied it with pink raffia. Wondering about the polk-a-dots? The whole decor of the party needed to match the design of my website, my mom insisted. (Hence, black and white and pink.) She was right. That’s good branding.

Pink cocktail napkins needed to have the Meal and a Spiel logo, my mom insisted. Now I have tons for all my classes. Hot pink flowers were simple and not overwhelming, but added a touch of fresh flare to the soiree.

I wanted the cocktail of the evening to be fresh tasting, not too sweet (as to prevent hangovers) and to be pink in color, without it being too femme. The invention: The Citrus Spieler. Sliced oranges, lemons and grapefruits marinated in vodka overnight. We added unsweetened 100 % cranberry juice and a splash of Sprite on top. Yum. And strong…..

Everyone raved about the cheeses and how each one was better than the next. Guess what folks? I got them at CostCo. (Granted I know which ones to choose there.) Sharp Seaside Cheddar, Delice de Bourgogne, Goat Cheese and Manchego. Add fig jam, dried fruit and good crackers (not from CostCo but Whole Foods) , light many candles and a romantic setting to make mouths water is immediately set.

This awesome cheese 5 foot long cheese board is from West Elm and one of the best buys ever.

I wanted everyone to be greeted at the door with food. This makes people happy, but also breaks the ice. So often at parties people stand around waiting for others to eat first. This gets it all started. These are Bresaola Bites, made with cured beef, sheep’s milk cheese and arugula. For the recipe and to hear the audio spiel, click here.

Serving 100 people AND being the host of the party is no easy task. I cooked for two days in advance, but then needed to let a very trustworthy staff carry out the final execution and deliver the food to the guests. I am a control freak about my food, but this was a good lesson in letting go.

Coming up with the menu means knowing what the kitchen can handle, what the guests will like, and, of course, it’s important to create an overall palate that goes together. Meaning, I’m not going to serve a Mexican quesadilla followed by an eggroll- one has nothing to do with the other.

Wondering what the kosher pigs in a blanket have to do with anything? THEY MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY. And I wanted a happy party. 

Now I would have just hooked up my iphone to the sound system  and played Adriano Celentano, but my mother, correctly, pointed out that live music adds elegance and “hoorah” to a party. I called my dear friend Lorenzo Grassi and asked him to round up some friends to play Italian 1960’s tunes and Bossa Nova-ish stuff. It was awesome. Want to hire three hot Italians to play at your party? Contact Lorenzo at:

And it was a happy party. Wondering about the baby? Three of  my “hippy” friends (two from college and one Italian couple) brought their babies. And guess who were the absolutely last people to leave? You got it!

And of course we did not forget  one of the main reasons that we threw the party: to present We also set out a few computers for people to browse and comment while there.

The gorgeous woman in black on the floor is my mom, enjoying the party that she made so incredible and impeccable in every way. The dog is hers, AJ, who I insisted be invited to the party. He greets all of my students at the start of every cooking class.

If you’re going to check out the website for the first time, be sure to look out for: vigor triggers, audio recordings of the spiels, the shop, videos and more.

Happy Surfing.

Love, Elana