There is never a bad time to host a dinner party, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, where crowd-pleasing ingredients abound in your own backyard! Here are a few tips to planning the ultimate PNW dinner party.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its lush environment. To celebrate the surroundings, try using natural elements for your table settings. Small twigs, fresh ferns and local flowers are a beautiful way to decorate a tabletop. For a unique, rustic centerpiece that complements the native landscape, use river rocks as anchors, and then style fresh greenery and flowers around them. Add candles of your choice contained in votives or hurricanes for a touch of warmth.
Hors d’oeuvres set the tone for the entire meal. Be sure to set them out while guests are arriving and settling in. If you’re stuck on what to serve, cheese is a classic savory appetizer sure to make everyone happy. For the local twist, try Cougar Cheese, made from our very own Washington State University Creamery. For an added bonus, serve the cheese with Washington Red Delicious apples or Baker St. Sourdough from Tall Grass Bakery.
The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the finest seafood, and there are an abundance of local options to suit any crowd. For dinner parties with a variety of guests with different tastes, serve locally caught salmon. Salmon is healthy, will cater to the majority of guests and can be prepared many ways. Loki Fish Co. is a great source. To go with your salmon, serve a cup of creamy clam chowder to complete the meal. If your guests are a bit more adventurous, try going for a marinated seafood salad. A decadent blend of calamari, octopus, shrimp and crabmeat served with a little garlic, lemon and parsley.
Washington has some of the finest wines in the country. There are hundreds of wineries to choose from, but pinot noir, sauvignon blanc or pinot gris varieties tend to pair best with seafood. You also don’t have to go far for great beer. Bellingham is home to a handful of breweries, including Chuckanut Brewery and Kulshan Brewery. For something even closer to home, Bellevue Brewing Company has a variety of handcrafted beer. If cocktails are calling your name, try the Peach Legacy from Cedarbrook Lodge. This cocktail consists of Bainbridge Island’s Legacy vodka, 20 One Sémillon dessert wine, peach puree, orange juice and lemon verbena. If you’re looking for something on the organic side, try Bluewater Distilling’s Thyme Bandit, which consists of local Halcyon organic distilled gin, peach liquor, lemon juice and fresh thyme.
Some might call the Pacific Northwest granola, and why fight it when you can embrace it? Some extra-crunchy granola desserts include slow-cooked apple granola crumble or mini cheesecakes with a granola crust topped with juicy berries.