Beer Tasting Party {Gluten Free}


Beer tasting party

A very dear friend of mine had an epic move recently.  Leaving behind a life in Chicago that she had cultivated for years to turn the chapter on new adventures.  She has taken a huge step boldly and courageously and is such an inspiration to me. She set off in style because, of course, she is fabulous.   I was lucky enough to get to see her around the holidays in the city she had called home for years and where many a high tea, oysters and martinis, and memories were made together.  I was sad not to be able to see her off, to throw her a goodbye celebration, to help her pack, or just to be there, as moving is one of the big stressors in life.  Psychologists say it’s only rivaled by death; shocking!  I found my mind drifting to thoughts of her constantly, worried about her drive over snowy roads, thinking about how her felines would adjust and of course, missing her all the while.  I wanted to do something she would enjoy and having recently turned to a gluten free lifestyle, I started thinking of recipes I could do to honor her.  Then it came to me.  Gluten Free Beer Tasting.  Perfection.  She is a fantastic hostess and I thought what a wonderful way to celebrate new adventure and make new friends by throwing a brassy beer bash that even those with sensitivities to gluten could enjoy.  So, from almost 2,500 miles away I threw a beer tasting party in her honor.

What I love about a tasting party is it gets people talking.  No one pulls out their phones, or talks about work, people are talking about the experience, the flavors; the tastes.  It’s a great way to mingle together different groups of people and a fantastic way to spend an afternoon if I do say so myself.  You don’t need much to make it happen; a few small glasses, a few bottles of brews and an open palate! I did a blind tasting at my party.  I feel that this makes people more adventurous, you may think you don’t like IPAs but are you really giving the beer a chance if you already have that opinion set?  Blind tastings make us a little more open to trying things that we may already think we either like or don’t like.  I used votive candle holders for my tasting cups.  I found them to be the perfect size and priced even more perfectly! I grabbed a few mini chalkboards and whipped up a little tasting template you can download here if you don’t want to make your own.  I choose 2 gluten free beers and 2 ciders for the people opting out of gluten and 4 beers of varying styles for the gluten indulgers.  I began with a lighter beer, like a pilsner, then a red ale, an IPA, and a stout.  If you need help picking out beers, someone on staff at the grocery store is sure to prove valuable and if you can’t find anyone, take a leap of faith! After all it’s just a taste!

I used old paper bags, cutting them to wrap around each label and numbered each 1-4 to correspond with the numbers I chalked up on the little boards.  Then set out your snacks in little bowls and get to tasting and talking.  Give your guests a little score card or note book so they can write up notes and when you reveal the beer they can be sure to write down their favorites to purchase later.  I have included my template below for you to use at your Beer Tasting Party.

Beer tasting party

Beer tasting party

Beer tasting party

Perfect place setting - Beer tasting party


The Menu

Blue Cheese with Cayenne Pepper Honey

Gluten Free Pretzels

Balsamic Candied Nut Mix

Salt and Pepper Popcorn

Balsamic Candied Nut Mix - Beer tasting party

Balsamic Candied Nuts

  • Preheat your oven to 350 and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Crack one egg in a mixing bowl and whisk
  • Add two tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon aged balsamic and 1 teaspoon salt to egg
  • Mix in 2 cups nuts (I used a mixture of cashews, pecans, and almonds)
  • Spread onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes
  • Let cool and break up any large clumps of nuts and serve – store in an air tight container

Blue cheese and cyan honey

Salt and Pepper Popcorn

  • Pop ¼ cup popcorn melt ¼ cup of butter and toss to coat
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cayenne Honey

Mix 2 tablespoon honey with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Beer Tasting Card

beer tasting party

Gluten Free Snacks - Beer tasting party

Beer tasting party

Beer tasting party
Caveman Blue Cheese with Cyan honey - Beer tasting party
Beer tasting party

Beer tasting party

Beer tasting party

To friends and beer,

Marcella Rose

Beer tasting party

Vintage Halloween Bash


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All Hallowe’en

When the world is wrapped in slumber

And the moon is sailing high,

If you peep between the curtains

You’ll see witches riding by

 

It was this poem, printed on a sweet vintage style Halloween card from my mother that inspired my Vintage Halloween Bash.   I grabbed my witches hat and broom to fly back in time bringing some old school charm and whimsy to the evening. I wanted this party to feel classic so Matthew bought me a fantastic book on vintage Halloween traditions and games and we wove them into the evening, creating a magical night. You set the tone with the invitation of course, so I mailed out vintage inspired cards with a hand written invitation inside. We played vintage fortune telling games, had food with the flare of days gone by, and partied into the evening.

 

We kept it classic in an orange and black palate. I spent the month of October crafting away, draping dip-dyed tulle around and placing crows and owls on the fence to keep a vigilant watch. I crafted hand-painted paper bags into a Cemetery Luminary and modge-podged tissue paper into floating ghosts with led lights tied inside to glow into the evening. We must have cut out a million bats; hanging them in flocks around the house and from the chandeliers casting eerie shadows on the walls. Pumpkins with holes drilled through them were stuffed with lights and glowed away on the porch. You can’t have a vintage Halloween without a Scarecrow so we propped up an old one that was gifted to me from my Grandma to make sure the crows stayed on the fence.

 

Here is the full breakdown of everything good.

 

Games:

Donuts on a String

Bobbing For Apples

Costume Contest

Guess how many Candy Corn

Chestnut Tree Fortune Telling

 

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Pumpkin-Diorama

Décor:

Paper Bats

Bouquets of Flowers Infested with Bugs

A Paper Bag Luminary Cemetery

Tissue Paper Glowing Ghosts

Cobwebs and Tulle

Pumpkin Lanterns

DIY Halloween Candles

Pumpkin Diorama 

 

 

 

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Savory:

Black (olive tapenade) & orange (roasted pepper) Crostini

Deviled eggs with chili peppers and poppy seeds

Blue cheese plate with rosemary and olive “bugs”

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus

Trick or Treat Stew – with elk, yams and parsnips

Brussel Spout Salad with pistachios and bacon

Sweet:

Two-tiered marshmallow cobweb cake

Maple Glazed Bars

Carmel Apples

Popcorn balls

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Vintage Halloween Party

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When black cats prowl

& Pumpkins gleam

May luck be with you on Halloween!

Marcella Rose

 

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Mad Scientist Halloween Bash!

Mad Scientist Party

It’s pretty obvious that I adore Halloween.  This year I want to give you readers a few of the parties I have thrown or catered in the past.  I hope you enjoy and that it inspires some party throwing of your own.

I have some pretty amazing friends in this quaint town of Ashland, none better or more fabulous than Paul and Amara.  They are the type of people who are always down for a few cocktails and a game of Cards Against Humanity or a fancy night out.  They have been my guinea pigs on many an occasion for blog posts and I simply adore them both.  Paul, an amazing audio book narrator, has superb taste in glassware.  There is not higher compliment from Paul than getting something poured (usually aged for at least 10 years) into one of his fantastic glasses; absolute heaven.  Amara, a copywriter for Harry and David, seems to always be on trend; rocking the coolest jewelry or a fantastic blouse or (my favorite) her neon Christmas décor, complete with blazing white Christmas tree, I mean what could be more awesome?  I love everything she styles and everything she does.  I find her haute-ness to be particularly amazing since this quaint little town is frozen in either the year 1901 or 1971; it’s weird but true.  Now that you have the back story, you will understand how perfectly ecstatic I was when asked to co-host a Halloween Party with them.  They thought of the most fantastic theme (no surprise), Mad Scientist!

Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party    Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party

This party was AMAZING.  Sadly my pictures are not, this was before I had the fantastic camera I now use and the lighting was low and spooky.  I hope you my avid readers will forgive the spotty shots, but the ideas and execution can still be seen, I hope.   Paul and Amara outfitted their home with sheets of plastic covering almost every space and converted a spare room into a photo booth “kill room” where you could be wrapped up a la Dexter and have portraits taken of killing or being killed.  They even had a friend dress as Dexter himself to stand in the shots!   Let me just say, there are some pretty epic shots of me as Mary Poppins going on a killing spree.  They completed the look with beakers and jars filled with colored water and dry ice.  They even stuffed sweet looking stuffed animals into mason jars with glow sticks and yellow water to give the whole place a formaldehyde feel.  One word: GENIUS.

This party theme is killer for a Halloween Bash but could be just as fun without the spook for a kid’s party or cocktail party!

I took care of the food, getting extremely creative with the theme.  The menu included:

Savory

  • Sterile Crudité – all white veggies served in a shiny metal pan
  • Surplus monkey legs – my mom’s famous rosemary marsala drummettes with the bones exposed
  • Penicillium roqueforti (blue cheese) with Salami and Crackers served in petri dishes
  • Lobotomized Brain – made with shrimp and a spicy lemon horseradish gelatin

Sweet

  • Coagulated Candy Corn – made with red food coloring
  • Blood Slide Lollypops
  • Periodic Cookie Table of Elements – Each element hand piped onto a square cookie frosted white and arranged in order

Libations

  • Ta-KILL-Ya – Served with lime and salt
  • Redrum Punch – Spiced rum with blood orange juice
  • Nuclear Reactor Cocktail – Midori, homemade sweet and sour, vodka
  • Glass Cleaner with Ammonium D – Crème de Violet, bitters, and sparkling wine

  Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party    Mad Scientist Party

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Mad Scientist Party

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Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party   

 Mad Scientist Party

IMG_4865    Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party

Mad Scientist Party

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Mad Scientist Party

It’s a mad mad world!

Marcella Rose

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Mary Poppins Killing Dexter – photo credit to Paul Garcia16926_10151083384037063_183328928_n

Mary and Bert – photo credit to Amara Waterman

Ice Bowl

Head over to My Crafty Spot for my latest guest blog for a DYI Ice Bowl 

 

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Life is short.  Moments fly by in seconds so fast and days so full, time simply slips away from us.  Try as we might, it’s hard to slow down to take it in and remember how sacred and extraordinary each moment in this life is.  Sometimes it’s good to do something for the sheer beauty of it.  It may not be practical, or very useful, or last very long but gosh darn it, it’s pretty and it should be enjoyed. Not to philosophize too much but life is like an Ice bowl.  What I love most about these delicate bowls of ice are their fleeting nature and the natural whimsy of the patterns that come out.  There is a certain amount of unpredictability with how the items freeze and the shape that the bowl will take on that I love.  They melt though.  It’s one of two things ice does best, liquefy and make things cold.  I loved how this DYI made me slow down taking the time to pop the blueberries in my mouth one at a time and watch the ice slowly melt away.  It made me remember that life is transitory and this moment will never be repeated, no matter how much you want it you can never have it again.  Now it’s here, all crystallized in its icy wonder and when it’s gone, all we have left are the memoires.

 

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So, in the honor of the ephemeral nature of life, I give you the Ice Bowl.  Its beauty lies in its fragility and impermanent nature.  It’s as striking in its display as it is in its design.  I recommend taking the time to make one, serve with fresh fruit or creamy ice cream, or simply use it as a summer time  centerpiece to remind us all of the momentary nature of beauty and life.

 

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In the words of the new Disney Ice Queen, let it go…but make sure you take the time to enjoy it before you do,

Marcella Rose

 

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Matt’s Meatball Shop Birthday Party

IMG_7384 My husband and I recently moved from New York to Ashland and it’s been so wonderful to have a house instead of a closet to celebrate and host in.  So, I was extremely excited to throw my first big party at our home for my husband Matt’s birthday.

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The first thing I do when throwing any event, be it a wedding or a simple dinner party, is to decide on a theme.  A theme gives your party a body, so to speak, and whenever you have to make a difficult choice you can go back to the theme for guidance.  It pulls your event together and gives it shape and cohesion while making decisions so much easier.

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For Matt’s party we looked to one of his favorite restaurants in New York’s Lower Eastside: The Meatball Shop.  If you’ve never been, it’s this great restaurant that took New York eaters and hipsters everywhere by storm.  Their menu is simple, meatballs and homemade ice cream sandwiches, so my menu played out like this: IMG_7401    

Hand-squeezed lemonade

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Beer

Make-your-own meatball sandwich with marinara, mozzarella and parmesan

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Three-meat antipasto board

Fresh handmade pickles

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Spicy bow-tie pasta salad

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Superfood salad with dreamy poppyseed dressing

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Homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches;

– Double dutch cookies with mint ice cream

– Ranch girl cookies with chocolate peanut butter ice cream

– Chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream

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For the decorations I used twine and old grocery paper bags to create recycled decorations.

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I measured the locations first and then created paper bag pennant banners to swing across the yard and blow in the breeze.

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On the house I placed larger pennant banners to spell out Happy Birthday as well as cut-outs from paper bags for the menu.

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I always like to create, even in the smallest of places, seating areas for people to settle and chat and create memories.  With a few bistro tables, some lounge chairs, a couple smaller end tables, and using a few of my mismatch vintage tablecloths, created some lovely seating areas dotted around the yard.

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On our porch I set up a rocking chair, lounge couch and my record player with a few carefully selected vinyls to set the mood of the party.

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To give it that real finished look I added some small bouquets and my constellation cans on the tables and set up a game area.

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 That way people could feel free to play a few yard games or decorate the walkway with sidewalk chalk. IMG_7382

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There was plenty to eat and lots of fun had by all! Happy Birthday Matt!

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Love, love, love,

Marcella Rose

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A special shout out to my dear friend Amanda who helped in the kitchen and at the craft table!

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