1 As guests entered my Living Hall, they had the opportunity to sign the great guest book on my faux-bois table. I dedicated an entire page of the giant book to the event.
2 Fernando, Mike, Carlos, and Mike Frasier, are carrying a 300-pound antique clam shell, one of two that we used to display and serve shucked oysters - today's oysters and clams are much smaller in size. I got these shells from an antique store, but they originated from an island off Africa.
3 They are very old. To determine the approximate age of a clam, some count the bands on the outside of the shell - one for every year. Researchers say it is more accurate to study the internal shell pattern, but this method kills the clam.
4 The shells were placed on one side of the terrace on two round tables - they are nearly as wide as the tables!
5 We set-up two picnic tables for our bar service. I chose to use uncovered tables because I wanted a clean and simple outdoor look.
6 Among our cocktails, we served Imperia vodka martinis - my favorite, along with caipirinhas. Caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaça, sugar and lime.
9 This is my friend Lis Barron and her sister, Judy Barron. They came to Skylands to relax, but also helped with the party preparations.
10 Lis and Judy rimmed these glasses with brown sugar for the caipirinhas. They dipped the edge of each glass in freshly squeezed lime juice, and then dipped the rims in brown sugar. The glasses are then left to dry until crunchy.
11 The kitchen was buzzing with preparations. My friend, Chef Pierre Schaedelin, from PS Tailored Events, and I planned a variety of hors d'oeuvres including corn filled cucumber cups, crab fritters with mayonnaise dip, tomato and ricotta on crostini, and these deviled quail eggs with wasabi caviar. http://pstailoredevents.com
12 These are the toasted crackers used for the quail egg with wasabi caviar bites. Each egg-white half is filled with an egg yolk-mayonnaise mixture and topped with caviar. A dab of egg-yolk mixture is placed on each cracker, and then the egg. http://www.marthastewart.com/910523/deviled-quail-eggs-caviar
13 Heather is cutting jalepeno peppers for the corn filled cucumber cups.
14 These are the cucumber cups before they are filled. We used a basic mellon baller to hollow them out. I have a handy mellon baller in my collection at Macy's. http://goo.gl/g3iOpX
15 We also served mini Croque Monsieurs, which is French for "gentleman crunch". It is a baked boiled ham and cheese sandwich. It originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. A Croque Madame is a version of the dish topped with a fried egg.
16 To make Croque Monsieurs even more delicious, we made them with a béchamel sauce.
17 We used shredded Gruyere cheese on two miniature slices of ham and bread, and then baked them in a 400-degree oven until the cheese was melted. Then, béchamel was spread on top and sprinkled with more cheese and broiled until golden brown.
18 We used only the freshest tomatoes in a colorful palette of red and orange to create our tomato and ricotta crostini appetizers.
19 This summer, two of our interns volunteered to join us at Skylands and help with preparations. Amy Moy and Samantha Frisoli assisted chef Pierre with the hors d'oeuvres.
20 And, our friend Riley also helped to wash dishes and garnish appetizers - we had a very productive line of helpers in the kitchen.
21 I love serving cheese straws at parties - I have been making cheese straws since my catering days. They're made using puffed pastry sprinkled with cheese, then trimmed into strips, twisted and baked until golden brown.
22 In another corner of the kitchen, oranges were sliced to garnish the Aperol Spritz drinks - Prosecco-based cocktails commonly served as aperitifs. The bittersweet Italian liquor gives this drink a bright orange hue.
23 Here, Chef Pierre adds some floral decor to the cheese straw presentation.
24 Cheese straws can be served with just cheese, or rolled with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or paprika.
25 Pierre’s colorful crudité platter features elegant muted tones of endives, radishes, carrots, and yellow peppers with three different dips.
26 The dips include a tapenade dip, buttermilk dip, and a white bean and red pepper hummus.
29 Once the oysters were shucked, they were placed on a bed of ice and served with lemons and mignonette sauce.
30 We passed small bites on these green platters. These are Croque Monsieurs, crab fritters with mayonnaise sauce, double-baked fingerling potatoes and gougeres - baked savory choux pastry mixed with cheese.
31 On this green platter we included corn-filled cucumber cups, quail eggs with wasabi caviar, and tomato and ricotta crostini.
32 The cheese straws look so lovely on this table.
33 Our platter of crudite was served on the sunny west terrace under the kiwi vine covered pergola.
34 It was a beautiful day for an outdoor reception. Tomorrow, I will share photos from the party.