It’s a happy day when a friend says “bring octopus” and it can only mean one thing. Potluck. This week the gents have decided to re-address the Potluck Party. Because it should be more about a communal gathering of good friends than a gathering of more just for the plain sake of just plain more. Whether it’s in your home or you’re taking it on the road. Make your choices count.

The guys like to take a call (1-817-82-FRIES) from a listener every now and again just to get the ball rolling. This week Liz calls in from the big island of Hawaii, asking for fresh ideas for her weekly beach-side potlucks in paradise. Of course Grilled Pineapple seems logical. But perhaps Liz could get creative with some homemade community condiments too. Because hand-made mustard, out of the ordinary ketchup, and this Trio of Salsa can enliven even the deadest of meat! In fact Andy makes a Chimichurri that he serves with tempeh, but it’s suitable for carnivores too.

Beach Pot Luck in Hawaii

If you’ve ever been to a potluck then you know one of the challenges is bringing food that will not only be delicious, but will travel well and stay good after hours of sitting on the buffet line. Slaw is always a crowd pleaser. It has real staying power too. Besides there are so many creative ways to shred vegetables. Try kale, Greg makes a garlicky raw slaw with the nubbly variety known as lacinato or dinosaur kale. Andy’s shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad features pomegranate and hazel nuts. It would be a lucky addition to any buffet. Certain fruits make great slaw too. Try apples, mangoes, even papaya (either green or ripe). A little heat goes a long way in making these sweet slaws sing. Speaking of spice, I bet Liz and the rest of our Hawaiian potluckers would be pleased to have Greg’s Asian spiced Ogo Seaweed Slaw show up at their weekly get-togethers.

Assorted Slaws

But why not give your Potluck Party a theme? I am sure we are all familiar with the Salad Bar. It would make a great rallying cry to a Potluck Party, and put Sunday night at Sizzler to shame. Imagine all sorts of fresh goodness from your local Farmers Market gathered together and prepped among friends. The sky’s the limit when it comes to building a big salad. Guests can get creative and personal, building it their own way. Everyone will be happy (and healthy).

Salad Bar at Home

The Salad Bar as a Potluck Party is a great time to bring out all those delicious pickled things. Nathan’s Pickled Okra would find a great place on the salad plate or even standing proud on top the best damn Bloody Mary known to man. Greg likes to pickle sweet and spicy peppers by the pound, which is way better than the peck! But you needn’t know canning to bring quality pickled produce to the party. There are plenty of places in your community, and online, where quality products may be purchased. The guys like Aunt Nellie’s, Phickles, and Rick’s Pics. But I am sure you have your favorites too.

Pickled Things for Salads

A Bring Your Own Toppings Pizza Party seems like a winner. Though there may be a gentlemanly disagreement on just how good a home baked pizza can be. But there is no disagreement when it comes to Pizza Potlucks, there is fun to be had and a quality pizza stone is an essential element. Greg likes this one from King Arthur flour. It’s big and thick and square. Making it suitable for more than just pizza of the round variety (of which Nathan throws a mean pie).

Pizza Party

Potlucks are a great time to show off your splendid taste in dinnerware. You can go chic with designer goods, or minimalist, requiring your guests to bring all-white serving pieces– as Greg does when he asks folks to drop in with a dish. There is also the vintage path that Nathan prefers. Sites like Etsy and Ebay can appease your prime place-setting obsession. Because potlucks were born for the High Brow/Low Brow treatment. They offer a terrific opportunity to bring some much needed makeover to the common casserole. Greg has some good ideas with two healthier versions of the ubiquitous Green Bean Casserole, plus a trumped up, truffled up Mac N Cheese Pie. But sometimes you want the Low Brow original, so check out Nathan’s Gala Parfait “church lady basement style” casserole cook-off, which includes a recipe for Glorified Rice that should catch your attention.

Glorified Rice

When it comes to Potlucks there’s no reason to limit your choices to food. A bottle of something is always appreciated. Especially when it has a story attached. Andy has discovered a red wine from the central coast’s Field Recordings called Fiction. It is produced in small quantities by a 29-year old winemaker whose “day job” is planting grapes for wineries all over California. It has given him access to sites and grapes “that are unknown or under-appreciated but hold enormous untapped potential”. The unusually beautiful label is imprinted with photographs of starlings in flight in “natural, un-staged patterns that can never be repeated nor replicated”, much like the highly personal wine inside. This wine is available at Domaine L.A. and K&L Wine Merchants. Of course you can always “bring beer”. But don’t get caught walking in the door with canned crap from the “Big Three”. Craft beers are becoming more and more accessible. Still, many of the most interesting brews are available only on-tap, making it a bit difficult to bring along to a Potluck. But even that dilemma is starting to change in some places. Because growler culture is growing. A growler is a refillable glass bottle that lets you take the best of the tap to-go. It’s really caught on in New York, and here in Los Angeles innovative brewers are following suit. Golden Road and Eagle Rock Brewery are bringing out their own refillable to-go bottles.

Growler Bottle and Fiction Red Wine

Do you ever wonder just how The Table Set came to be a podcast? Well it was a true potluck! Not too long ago The Table Set got together and threw a party. They invited inspiring food bloggers and asked them to each bring one course in one elegant sit down meal. Not all potlucks are buffets you know. A little help from talented friends can make even the most elegant of meals so much easier to pull off. Joy The Baker was one of those invited. She brought a sophisticated Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pineapple Poppy Seed Vinaigrette. Between the crunch of macadamia and the laughter of good friends, The Table Set was born. Little did these gents know they were auditioning. Be sure and watch the video of the planning and execution of this event. It features the guys, the guests, the food. Oh, and Salty Seattle as a sexy fortune teller.

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14 comments on “Sunday Sizzler

  1. Have you tried a backyard pizza party on the grill? It’s a great alternative to the oven; I recommend it!

  2. I do like grilled pizzaa! GREG

  3. Liz Lees Feb 20, 2012

    The ideas are terrific and I am sure everyone at the beach potluck will be happy to try out the new ideas!

    Mahalo from the Big Island!

    Liz

  4. liza110 Feb 20, 2012

    How do you get invited to that picnic?

  5. Great potluck chat! I do indulge in a lot of potluck settings with our friends but I don’t see the same seriousness or commitment from anyone else. That’s cool, I don’t judge but as long as I know I put 100% effort into my dish I’m happy. I drive my wife crazy by trying to have it ready just as we need to leave (if it’s a hot dish) or packing it and driving at 20mph so as not too find it all over the trunk when I get there. At home I like to put a bunch of stuff on the smoker and just lay it out in the kitchen when it’s done with all of the sides or fixin’s and watch people walk away with loaded plates. I always comment to my wife about how many people go for seconds, I should stop now as I sound a little anal about the whole thing :)
    Thanks for the podcast.

    • Hilarity! Don’t get me started on the Pot Luck drive. It’s the most stressful part about attending a Pot Luck. Cakes with frosting are the worst! GREG

  6. Linda Feb 22, 2012

    Love the podcast, listen every week. And your recipe links are great. Today however the link to the Brussels sprout salad was hijacked somehow and sent me to a raunchy site I am sure you did not intend. Thought you would like to know!

  7. Please host a potluck and ask guests to bring pot roast, potpies, potted meat product, pot cheese, pot brownies…the list could go on! Or not.
    Thank you for another wonderful episode, Table Set!

  8. Great podcast guys! Always look forward to hearing what you have to talk about next. ~ Mel

  9. Christina Feb 25, 2012

    Today I watched barefoot contessa and Ina Garten made a scallop and shrimp pot pie. Then, I listened to your podcast. Such a strange cooincidence!

  10. PS. Love the video..Best Pot Luck I’ve ever been to!

  11. Stephanie Mar 5, 2012

    Similar to a pizza party, a few years ago I hosted a lasagna party where everyone received a small loaf pan and made their own personal lasagna with various fillings…. It was successful.
    We host beer tastings at our home monthly. Most of our friends are involved in beer trading so we all get together every month and bring whatever rare and unique trades we gathered over the last month (minus the ones we are aging). The foods we serve are expected for a tasting… Cheese, olives, crackers, and the occasional fig…. I wonder how we could dress this occasion up?
    Next month we are changing things up a little bit. We are all doing a “Chopped” inspired beer dinner where we all make a meal and pair that meal with a beer.. There are wild ingredients as well. I am hopeful this will be a nice change.

  12. all great ideas, thanks!

  13. Fun post! Thanks for mentioning my Phickles Pickles. :)

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