This week my Mother in-law and her girlfriend came to visit for a day before departing for a beach getaway. Last night, they returned for another night before heading back to Pennsylvania.
Our steady stream of visitors has made us pros at feeding our guests in a manner that impresses them every time and keeps us from going insane.
The menus are decadent but super easy. Monday was filet mignon with bearnaise butter and pasta with shallot, thyme and truffle butter and a baby green salad. All of the gourmet butters were purchased at Wegman's grocery. If you do not have a Wegman's grocery near you, move.
Since there were 8 for dinner the grown-ups and the wee one ate in the formal dining room and we left the teens to the kitchen table. I chose my grandmother's Metlox California Ivy plates because they are a bit festive but also dishwasher safe. This pattern and others like it are widely available on eBay.
I used antique linen napkins, napkin rings, and silver.
The napkings were not pressed and starched so the collection of mismatched antique napkins rings solved that problem and lent a more casual feeling to the table.
Thursday night's menu was salmon stuffed with creamy lobster and roasted red pepper dip (another Wegman's purchase) so I used my fish knives which are also mismatched.
The table is slightly unfussy but a step above the everyday and the menu is secretly idiot proof but our guests always think we have gone out of our way to do something fancy. Win-win.