I just spoke with a friend of mine in New York the other day. She is planning a baby shower here in Arizona for another friend in the month of June, she is concerned about what the temperature might be, “Hot” I said. Her next question was, “how do you guy’s entertain when it is 110 plus degrees?” I told her – you always have the option of frying an egg on the side walk, thinking that joke never gets old. But, I forgot she once lived here and she pushed me to be just a little more creative.
I assured her we have several options. I believe the secret here is to keep it light and fresh
with a lot of flavor. Take advantage of the vegetables and herbs that the summer months provide. Summer beets, baby arugula, or sweet corn and sugar snap peas.
Incorporate them into your menu choices with different themes and cooking methods. Being from the East Coast and spending summers on Block Island (Rhode Island), fresh seafood has always been my first choice for a summer menu. They have not built a beach yet in Arizona, but we are so close to the beautiful beaches of Mexico. You can easily incorporate some of those flavors and turn the ever popular pool side reception into a night in Cabo.
Send brightly colored invitations with some descriptive wording and your guests will see that you are going for a casual and comfortable feel. Encouraging them to leave the safety net of their AC. I would suggest starting the event later in the evening once the sun has begun to set. Offer your guests cool Pomegranate Margaritas along with buckets of self serve chilled beers. Chilled, spicy appetizers work well such as refreshing Baja Shrimp with Cucumber, Jicima and Avocado Cocktail Sauce.
Can you have an event in the summer and not grill? Sure you can, but this theme calls for it. Be sure your caterer positions the grill in a location that is a good distance away from your guests so they avoid the direct heat. Choose your grill menu to include line caught Swordfish or Marlin Steak marinated with Lemon, Lime and Garlic. Finish it with Toasted Pumpkin Seed and Cilantro Pesto and bon appetit!You may have to have a steak option, no worries! How about an Angus T- Bone steak basted in Chimichurri Sauce? Have the chef slice and platter them with fresh vine ripe tomatoes on the side.
Is this too casual for you? Let’s move inside. The valley has several event venues that offer indoor facilities. Go for the early start here on a low demand day like a Sunday, rates may be better. Cover your tables in celadon, ivory or white, keeping a clean crisp look. You can build a menu that is simple with a touch of elegance that might include Cinnamon French toast Casserole with Pecan Praline Topping and Orange Flavored Maple Syrup, Chilled Sliced Tenderloin of Beef Platters garnished with Balsamic Onions accompanied by Crisp French Rolls, Horseradish Cream and Tomato Tarragon Aioli. I talked about fresh vegetables, throw them in a salad. Summer beets, Snap Peas and Sweet corn with a splash of Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette and Crumbled Gorgonzola, heaven.
Of course there is always Sedona with rolling creeks, cool breezes, green grass and tall trees. Any caterer will jump at the chance to take a ride north. But let’s try to keep it here in town. Yes it’s hot, but you don’t have to stand the heat, hire a caterer and get out of the kitchen. Imagine the possibilities.