Last weekend, on the longest day of the year, we threw our first Pop Up Dinner Party of the summer on the top of Bernal Hill in San Francisco…
This is my seventh pop-up dinner party and by now we’ve got this thing down pat. The first thing people ask me when they see this kind of party is “do you need a permit?” It depends on the place. After we decided to do it at Bernal Hill we called into the city and were pleased to find out that for parties under 30 people we didn’t need a permit. Bernal Hill is a pretty hill at the South of San Francisco that has awesome sweeping views of the entire city. In the past, we’ve done parties where we needed a permit but it’s usually not that big of a deal.
Sometimes I give my guests all the details but I usually like to leave some element of surprise. For this party I invited people to a secret midsummer dinner party, I told them that the location was a surprise and to dress warm and that I would send them information about where to go two hours before the party started.
When planning the party, sunset times are important. We decided we wanted the party to start about an hour and half before sunset, that gives you 30 minutes after sunset while it’s still light out to clean up (you can make a plan for lighting if you want to stay in the dark) San Francisco gets chilly after dark so we planned accordingly.
The set up can be a lot of work mostly because I usually want my guests to be surprised when they arrive so set up doesn’t have as many hands helping. Paul and I lugged everything up to the top of the hill (mostly Paul.) For seating I have ikea stools I use that are really cheap and light and stack nicely. And for tables my favorite are these 6 ft folding tables that fold in half. In addition I always bring an extra prep table like this skinny long one. You could also rent tables and chairs for the evening. Here in San Francisco there are places where you can rent a table and chairs for under $30. We rented linens from a local company it’s about $10 and easier than buying my own. We brought plates and silverware from home, I keep a cheap set from Ikea on hand for things like this. I like plates and flatware to be sturdier so they don’t blow away in unexpected wind.
The food is usually the most complicated part of the party. I’ve learned to divvy up things so I’ll usually cover logistics and have a friend do the food. My friend Andrea Pimental made everything this time and it was amazing. We chose food that could be served at room temperature, so we didn’t have to worry about everything being hot when we arrived. Before we left home, we plated everything on large platters and covered them tightly in saran wrap. Once wrapped, the food was flat, so we could stack the platters on top of each other and fit them all into a large bag. When we got to our destination, we just had to unwrap the the platters and spruce up the food before serving family style. For drinks, we pre-mixed the Sangria in a large portable container and poured it into pitchers once we got to our location.
We used these delicious recipes off of Simply Organic‘s special summer site: Easy Summer Eats. I love Simply Organic because their spices and seasonings are the best quality. (Plus, they give 1% of all sales to organic farmers around the world.) As everyone arrived, we served this Raspberry Ginger White Sangria. Then for dinner we served Ginger Miso Glazed Salmon (along with a fresh rice pilaf,) Grilled Asparagus Salad, and fresh bread. As the sun went down, we served Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs.
Clean up is usually quick because everyone helps. We bring big plastic containers to put the dirty plates in and I always bring a few extra garbage sacks to help transport everything at the end. And that’s it! Would you ever throw a pop-up dinner party? It’s so memorable and one of my favorite things to do in the summer.
If you’re interested in hosting a summer party like this, Simply Organic put together a fun quiz that helps you find themes, menus, and decoration inspiration. Take the quiz here and share your favorite summer party ideas!
This post is sponsored by Simply Organic: Pure. Simple. Joy.
Photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day
Food by Andrea Pimental