pop-up dinner parties
That’s right, another dinner party by the Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t blame me if it looks redundant, the weather here is only warm for about six weeks so I’ve been packing in the outdoor parties. This time we did it on an old fishing pier. I always go there with my kids and I thought it would be a great place for a party because you can see all of San Francisco. One of my favorite friends Fergi came to town and it was her 30th birthday so we had to do it up right. Unfortunately the fickle San Francisco weather was not as cooperative as a few weeks ago and it was freeeeeeezing. Also, unfortunately we chose to do it the same day as the Blue Angels were performing (Fleet Week!) so there was traffic getting across the bridge and by the time we set up it was starting to get dark and I gave up on the cute decorations I had planned. C’est la vie.
The theme of the party was Sparkles! We told everyone to wear something sparkly or shiny. The table cloth was shiny gold and all the decorations (that never made it up) were sparkly gold.
The good news is that we also told everyone to dress warm and a chilly party in front of the Golden Gate Bridge is still better than a great party somewhere boring. It was really fun to cozy up in warm blankets and talk with old friends. Seriously, the view doesn’t get better than this. Happy Birthday Fergi, I’m so glad you were born.
-We dined on potato leek soup, salad, gourmet mac and cheese and Kara’s Cupcakes for dessert.
-We held it on the old fishing pier on the Sausalito side.
-I didn’t get permission, there were other fishermen there with tables and chairs, I don’t think it is a big deal as long as the group is small.
-Liz and Aubrey helped with the food and Aubrey helped me set up and carried heavy buckets of rocks all the way down the pier.
-Huge thanks to Paul’s parents who babysat and made the soup (I wish they lived nearby!)
First you’ll need a reservation to the Day Spot at Kirby Cove. These are easier to get than the camping spots. It can be reserved right here and costs $35. Anyone is allowed to hike down to Kirby cove really what you are doing is paying for permits to bring your car down. It is a public beach so it doesn’t guarantee there won’t be other people around. Like the naked man that was hanging out 100 ft from where we set up. (ah, San Francisco!) Though in our case all the beach goers left as it got dark.
Here in the Bay Area planning an outdoor dinner party is like Russian roulette. You never know if its going to be good or bad weather and that is just something you have to take a chance on.
Whenever I do parties like this I have two tables. One 6 foot banquet table and a smaller card table so I can prep the courses and have somewhere to work from. My favorites are this 6 ft table that folds in half and this skinny long one.
Any chairs would be great here but I used my own set of 8 foldable chiavari ballroom chairs. I have to have the foldable because my car and apartment are tiny.
For linens here I used some remnant fabric my intern Alexis found at a cheap fabric store in Berkeley. Where possible I’m partial to tablecloths that go to the ground. I borrowed the napkins from my neighbor Bille. (Thanks guys!)
I wasn’t trying to do anything groundbreaking with flowers. I just wanted something colorful and low to the table so the guests could converse easily without talking over flowers. (Plus I love Dahlias!)
I also have a set of cheap Ikea dishes and silverware so I don’t have to drag my good stuff outside.
A lot of times if you do a dinner in a public place they don’t want open flames so here we used battery operated led lights. I’ll do a little tutorial next week to show how we did the overhead lights.
Food is tricky. For this party I borrowed a camp stove from Liz and warmed up the Risotto and Soup immediately before at the day spot (where that is allowed.) Then carried it down to the beach. Salad was assembled there. And the ice cream arrived as we sat down to eat so there were no problems with it melting. Another method I’ve tried with the food is to buy a thermos with soup and then have someone else bring the main course straight from the oven in an insulated cooler.
photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day
Last month I reserved the day spot for Kirby Cove below the Golden Gate Bridge. So yesterday we hauled a bunch of stuff down to the beach and set up a dinner party. The trickiest part was figuring out the lighting since there are no plugs anywhere. We built a ‘T’ from a wooden pole and then strung battery operated Christmas lights overhead. The tea lights were also LEDs. We had a four course meal including Parsnip Soup, Salad, Risotto, Asparagus, and ice cream sundaes. We heated the food up on a burner at the day site and then brought the pots down to serve the food right before.
All the guests arrived at dusk and we watched as the sky got darker and the city lights got brighter. I don’t think you could have asked for better scenery (or better company.)
[EDIT: For directions and FAQ's about this party go here.]
photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day
Susie Nadler did a little interview with me right here about doing parties in public spots. (I just wonder what the rules in Paris are…)
This was for a friend’s birthday party last spring. We live in downtown San Francisco and we have a lovely rooftop so I decided to do a little party up there. When I do labor intensive parties that involve carrying stuff around I usually have the attendees help with all or part of the food. If I do everything then either the atmosphere or the food suffers. I have an industrial bubble machine so I had that running in the corner, it was fun being on the rooftops with bubbles floating around. (You can kind of see it in the last picture.)
Concept by Jordan Ferney Photography by Paul Ferney
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