Out of Africa
Apres-fete means after party.  The best kind of after party is the morning after: leftovers, debriefing & rehashing.  Our ‘Out of Africa’ party made for the best apres-fete to date.  Greg, Amy and I reminisced the entire next day (with plenty of bird’s eye margaritas.)  There was a lot to discuss: the guests, the food, the psychic, the henna, the photo booth, the fire pit, the dancing, the tents, the booze.  The celebration was a 30th birthday for our friend who had the trip of a lifetime–a luxury African safari–at Jack’s Camp.  That memorable vacation, coupled with the film, became our inspiration for the theme party.  The look was Ralph Lauren, rustic luxury in a garden setting.  Guests arrived to the front lawn, greeted by a roaring bonfire.  We rented luxury camping tents from Shelter Co. and set up our bar in one, and a psychic in another.  Just as Meryl Streep’s character brings her china & crystal to her farm in Africa, we brought out the good stuff into the fresh air.  Beautiful whiskey bottles on silver trays, set on dark wood tables, created a cozy, lush bar.  The cocktail “sundowners” menu (see below) gave enough options to get the party going.  Between visits to the raw bar, henna artist & psychic healer, guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres passed by our linen-clad servers.  My favorite appetizer was a biltong (South African beef jerky) crostini with ricotta, jalapeno rhubarb jam & cilantro.  After cocktail hour, the party moved into the big tent for a four course sit-down dinner & dancing.  We couldn’t have been more excited when we discovered Zephyr Tents, who have gorgeous tents made of sail cloth (forget the shiny vinyl!).  Amy created the world of Jack’s Camp, and the spirit of the movie, inside of the tent.  Dozens of gorgeous palm trees were brought in and she placed even more leaves down the long table set for eighty.  Antique lanterns and hundreds of votives created a sense of mystery through lighting.  Table sections were assigned different animals–elephant, giraffe, lions, etc.–and Amy labeled them all with gold-embossed stamped signs.  This menu was a true pleasure to plan and prepare.  The birthday boy had shared a story with me about an ostrich sighting while on safari.  That memory inspired a course of scrambled ostrich eggs, served in their shells, accompanied by arctic char gravlax, sourdough toast soldiers, creme fraiche & chives.  Another highlight of the family-style meal was roast suckling pig, which paired perfectly with a hominy & green chili souffle.  After dinner there was plenty of dancing (think Jay Z & Kanye’s Welcome to the Jungle) and then it was back to the bonfire for s’mores (and more of the brown stuff).  I hope the party was as much of a fantasy to attend as it was to create.  The greater the theme, the greater the party and the greater the party, the greater the apres-fete.  This was a great one.

The Menu

the hemingway
gin & tonic

bird’s eye margarita
silver tequila, lime, mint, african bird’s eye chili

the meerkat
vodka, ginger beer, lime

the redford
bourbon, cherry bitters, orange

the meryl
vodka or gin, dirty sue olive juice, up

jack’s camp
liquor of choice, house sour


raw bar
minted english peas, burrata & chili oil crostini
biltong (south african beef jerkey), jalapeno rhubarb compote, ricotta & cilantro crostini
buffalo bone marrow, capers, lemon & parsley crostini
alligator sausage skewers with spicy mustard & curried ketchup
sit down…family style

arctic char gravlax
sourdough soldiers
letttuces. vinaigrette
ostrich eggs.  creme fraiche.  chives
suckling pig
hominy.  green chilis.  sharp cheddar
lobster.  pele pele ho ho butter
rib-eye.  chimichurri
french leeks
asparagus.  lemon

beignets & chicory coffee
banana pudding cups

fireside s’mores