A Dinner Party for Garden Grown

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Eva Amurri shares her dinner party for Garden Grown

It’s not every day that your best friend writes a book! In fact, it’s a very rare day, indeed. And it’s always a reason for celebration! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, last week Julia (of Lemon Stripes blog) released a veggie-forward cookbook and gardening companion. It’s a beautiful book with delicious and healthy recipes, which are presented alongside awesome gardening and storage tips by her husband, Anel (of Botanical Bosnian). Not only are the recipes full of nutritious and accessible ingredients, but it’s organized in such a way that encourages you to take advantage of the season’s bounty- whether it comes from your own garden or the grocery store! It also is very unique in that every single recipe has an accompanying image. Almost unheard of in the cookbook space!

When Julia got her book deal and embarked on the journey of writing this book over a year ago, it seemed super daunting to me. It was 100 recipes, with each needing to be tested repeatedly, photographed, and written. I listened in awe as she detailed the entire process, which would take over nine months. I didn’t say it out loud, but it felt like she had just signed up to eat an elephant. Over the next months, with good days and bad days, I watched her eat it one bite at a time. It was truly so inspiring! It’s amazing when you have a close friend and you’re able to watch them put blood, sweat, and tears into making a dream happen. I knew as the date of publication of Garden Grown was approaching that I really wanted to celebrate Julia’s efforts in a way that would let her truly relax, surrounded by her nearest and dearest.

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Launching books involves a lot of more public, fan-based events and while she was definitely doing lots of “official” events for Garden Grown, I thought it would be really nice if she and Anel got to have an evening with their friends to rally together and really celebrate the huge deal that bringing this book to fruition has been. And you know I LOVE a dinner party! I got to planning, and thought it would be really fun if everyone could taste the recipes from the book! I decided to throw a small-ish sit-down dinner with a Garden theme, and a fun cocktail hour. It actually ended up being the first official dinner party Ian and I threw in our new home!

The smartest thing I did was to hire a NYC-based chef to prep and cook the recipes. It enabled me to mingle with guests and enjoy the celebration. Chef Amira was so wonderful, and I love that she added another layer of female empowerment to the evening. I made all the flower arrangements myself (Shoutout to The Fresh Flower Bar flower arranging class in Fairfield for teaching me how to do it!), and I rented plates and cutlery so that all 16 guests could have matching flatware and china. I printed Menus for each setting to familiarize guests with the recipes in the book that we’d be enjoying, and I even had cookies made of the Garden Grown cookbook for guests to take home as a favor! Everything came together so beautifully, with a color palette of blues, white, and hints of lilac.

Guests arrived to an assortment of hors d’oeuvres laid out on the bar with pre-batched cocktails: all from the book! There was also a bunch of non-alcoholic options to drink! Chef Amira made delicious focaccia, and topped it with Julia’s pesto from the book, as well as her marinated feta and eggplant caponata. The cocktails (Blackberry Old Fashioned and Cucumber Margarita) were from Garden Grown, too! After cocktail hour, we sat down to a family-style meal of flaky Baked Fish with tomatoes, Summer Ratatouille, Hot and Cold Cucumber Salad, Kale Fried Rice, and Eggplant Lasagne. The meal was absolutely delicious, and it was so fun to toast the authors and all they’ve accomplished! What a fun night.

Let me know if you have any questions about the evening that I can answer, and make sure to order your own copy of Garden Grown to enjoy!

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