This past Friday, one of my friends invited me to the Google Holiday Party, an annual celebration of gargantuan proportions thrown for Google employees. (Due to his pity on me and in exchange for a gift worth over $100, I was able to negotiate my way into being his "plus one" to the party.)
Like Giada says on Food Network, "I (too) am your all-access pass, (but, this time) inside the (Google) bash!"
The ornate decorations and fanciful costumes at the party were awe-inspiring and the crazy blend of music was dance-worthy... But, I didn't really care about those things, because I was primarily focused on sampling the food. I wanted to investigate all the hype surrounding Google as being a pioneer in organic, local, and state-of-the-art cuisine.
Unfortunately, the night wasn't what I expected. First, there were so many people and so many things to do, that I didn't really get to "try everything." Plus, I learned that the regular Google chefs people didn't make any of the food that night, rather, the event was catered by an outside company, and that gave me more motivation to dance and less to gorge myself.
Like all party events, I love learning and getting a five-finger-discount ("stealing") entertaining ideas from the pros. I learned quite a few tips from the Google caterers.
As you can see from this picture below, these tamales were made out of a whole lotta husk, but I'll definitely shoplift the great serving idea of keeping steamed items warm throughout the evening with a bamboo steamer perched over a comfortable simmer (not skin-scalding boil).
I also like that the peeps at Google relied heavily on "simplicity"--they served regular ham and cheese sandwiches and green salad. Simple and artful can be great when done right. But, for my own parties, I don't think I would set sandwiches onto a platter standing on their side edges, because these sandwiches in the snapshot below fell apart in a discombobulated pile of toast triangles and individual slices of cold cuts.
For entertaining, I love the idea that sandwiches don't always have to be made out of sliced bread, but little Pacman-like rolls can do fine. Although, for my own future parties, I think I'll make sure to "overstuff" my bun sandwiches, since rolls present double the bread mass and a thick, chewy, and dry crust. Extra mayo and mustard are necessary for babies like these.
I also love the idea of using different-colored lighting as a garnish. Red-toned light can really accentuate the visual appearance of certain foods, including shrimp.
Also, the best entertaining food in the world is serving sushi. But "make-your-own-sushi" for guests? A sushi-making party or party with ready-to-eat foods with a sushi-making element would be so cool.
Finally, the great idea that I picked up from the Google party is not to pre-plate the dessert, but allow the guests to help themselves. Some people are full by the time dessert rolls around and some are still hungry. Let them decide!
I hope you learned as much as I did. The Google party definitely taught me, "Don't be evil... tasting."