Hosting a brunch

Hello my dear readers!
In last week’s post I mentioned that I am about to host a lunch. Well, it happened and it was more like a proper brunch, as it started about 11 o’clock, which is when I normally wake up on Saturdays 🙂 Last Saturday though, duty was calling me so I left the comfort of my warm bed and started prepping my brunch with a massive cup of coffee in my hand ☕️.

peonies to make your brunh pretty

Our guests were a couple really close to George’s family, as well as my mother-in-law. When you’re hosting an event that includes any kind of food, the first and most important thing to consider is who you have invited over. In my case, our guests were from a diverse background. On one hand, I had George’s mom, a typical Bulgarian lady and George, a super fussy eater, on the other, I had a British couple, who has traveled the world and lived in a variety of countries, and myself, a lover of gourmet food and fancy cuisine. It was a tough crowd to please…

I have to say I felt some pressure as this was the first time I was ever hosting a formal brunch, where everything had to be ready when the guests arrive. I was particularly worried as we still don’t own 5 matching plates (or water glasses). We do own the most gorgeous wine glasses though, to be exact, we own 4 of them. If there’s anything I wouldn’t make a compromise with, that’s wine glasses and cutlery. That’s why last Friday I sneakily went to House of Fraser to buy 2 additional wine glasses :). As we don’t own our place, we obviously don’t have the perfect conditions to greet guest parties, but I did what I can: I bought the most gorgeous peonies and decided on an amazing welcome drink to break the ice – an Aperol Spritz. If you haven’t tried it please do! It’s one of the most popular cocktails in Italy. Its refreshing orange flavour combined with prosecco bubbles is just what you need in the hot summer days. You can find the recipe and some history of the cocktail here.

Aperol Spritz

In terms of food, I decided to go with what I know and love most: Italian food. Now, I’ve never had any lessons in cooking but I have a genuine interest and passion for it and as the years passed, I have really mastered my risotto. This is exactly what I picked as my main dish: a rich and creamy risotto a la Milanese. The rich yellow colour and the exotic aroma of saffron make this one of my all-time favourite dishes. I decided to elevate it a little bit for the occasion by adding some fresh shrimp sautéed with garlic and butter.

Risotto Milanese with sauteed shrimps

Since, the weather was quite hot, I decided to skip starters and go for fresh salads. Salad number one was an Italian classic: insalata Tricolore, made with tomatoes, mozzarella and avocado. Slice them really thin, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a drop of balsamic reduction and you’re good to go.

Insalata Tricolore: excellent start to an Italian themed brunch

Salad number 2 consisted of iceberg lettuce, prosciutto, avocado, grated Parmesan cheese and some toasted pine nuts. That’s probably the first salad in George’s life that he actually enjoys, hence why it’s often present on our table. I am not sure if it’s a typical Italian recipe but it’s definitely full of Italian flavours! For desert I went with a simple non-bake cheesecake with white chocolate and loads of fresh strawberries. I prepared this in advance and took it out of the fridge when the time came 🙂

Non-bake strawberry cheesecake with white chocolate, an excellent end to a brunch

We finished off the lunch with some cheese and crackers (totally not Italian but a favourite of everyone around the table)

My top 3 tips for hosting a brunch are:

  1. Know your audience well. Be aware of their food preferences, allergies, eating habits.
  2. Take some risks. In my case that was the decision to prepare a risotto which needs to be fresh off the pan. It was also a great risk because our guests have lived in Italy for 3 years, so they really knew a good risotto. Let’s just say my risk paid off 🙂
  3. Do what you can to make the room pretty and comfortable. Your effort will shine through even if the setting is not ideal.

That’s all for today! I am super excited to tell you that in a few hours I will be in super-hot Italy to enjoy a long-due honeymoon. I guess part of me was getting in the mood during the brunch, hence all the Italian dishes. 🙂 Follow me on Instagram for snaps from our daily adventures on the Amalfi coast.

Arrivederci, my lovelies!

Antoniya x