I'm thinking champagne, I'm thinking breakfast. Signs point to champagne breakfast! (in my previous life I was a rocket scientist).
Some quick reasons why this is a great idea;
1. People's evenings get filled up quick smart, so don't clog the evenings any further, hook up a breakky date.
2. Who doesn't love breakfast?
3. Breakfast is a very loose term for anything meaning 'prior to lunch' so you have a lot of leeway with what time you can hold your breakky.
So, let us pre-plan. You need a date and a time and friends. Why not combine all these factors and do an invite. This can be by hand – why not add some cute decorations – you can use magazine cut outs, hand done drawings, old Christmas cards. The world is your oyster. Or whip them up on the computer while channelling your best graphic designer or copywriter skills. Include the date, time, address and whether you want your guests to bring any of the following a) booze b) plate of food c) partners/friends d) Christmas cheer.
Then, giving people heads up, get the invites out ASAP.
Ok. Let's talk food. The best thing about a champagne breakfast is that there is so much scope for menu items, and you have the creative licence to make it as degustation-y as you like (ie: my idea of heaven).
You need beverages. Juice, tea, coffee and...bubbles. French schmench! Sometimes money can't afford us such delights, but I know just the way to spruce up that cheap but delightful bottle of house bubbly you purchased..... hibiscus flowers! Sound random? Taste delightful. These come in a jar or can and are available from good food stores and delis such as Simon Johnson. You can put one in each glass and a dash of their syrup, they pretty things up and taste delightful and will do doubt score you massive cred with your pals.
A nice non-alcoholic fruit punch (juice, soda water or ginger ale, mint leaves, seasonal fruit, ice) is a sure fire way to impress people as well.
Now, on to food. Crepes are impressive, easy to make en mass. One of my favourite crepe recipes is by Margaret Fulton, the mother of crepes and other tasty delights. Here is her amazing recipe;
1 ½ cup plain flour
1 ½ cup milk
3 eggs lightly whisked
pinch of salt
2 tbs melted butter
In a jug or bowl mix together the eggs, milk and melted butter. In a separate bowl sift flour and salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mix. Using a wooden spoon, gradually draw in the flour and then beat with a whisk until smooth. Best to let it sit for an hour before cooking (overnight is fine also, just pop it in the fridge, covered, might just need to whisk it back to smoothness the next morning).
Heat a greased frypan (or two if you can multi task) over medium heat. Once it has heated up, using a ladle spoon batter into the centre of the pan and swirl around so batter evenly reaches the edges of the pan. Look for bubbles to appear and flip crepe. The first couple are usually the worst. Fact. It is a matter of getting the pan to the perfect heat and getting the hang of it. Repeat and try to not eat all the pancakes while you are waiting.
One of the great things about this recipe is you can make it the night before (in fact it is better if this is the case) and get up early, cook the lot and keep them warm in the oven.
As for toppings...the sky is the limit. You can go the tried and true lemon and sugar, or make a great spread with cream cheese, maple syrup, chopped up walnuts and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spread this on your crepes with some berries and Bob's your uncle.
Feeling like something a little greasier...? You can't go past fried eggs and bacon or or chorizo on the bbq. However spice it up with having some beautiful garlic aioli, caramelised onions and gourmet rolls to have with it.
Rather not go the cooked breakfast? You could have a smorgasbord of easy to make (or acquire) food stuffs. Croissants and jam, pastries, homemade muffins – sweet and savoury, fruit platters, or scones and jam and cream.
A bunch of flowers on the table is all you need to do to set the atmosphere (that and citronella if mosquitoes are a problem and you are holding this outdoors). Some paper plates and disposable cutlery if your stock doesn't stretch enough. And having as many things pre-planned as possible makes your day more relaxing and enjoyable. So put on some tunes, grab yourself a glass of bubbles complete with hibiscus flower and enjoy your champagne breakky!