9 Must-Know Entertaining Tips From Maricar Xerez Burgos
1. As hosts. We try to find out if our guests prefer fish, chicken, pork or meat. Are some of them vegetarians or have a special diet requirement? Do they like alcohol or is wine okay? If they have a disability, we don’t entertain on our 3rd floor roof deck.
2. Venue. On pizza night I make pizza from scratch and prepare several toppings. On tapas night, there is no main course, just wine and appetizers for six to eight people. On burger night, Alby cooks and grills his special burgers. Our alfresco dining area is the 3rd floor roof deck. We can entertain up to 40 persons buffet style.
3. Home-cooked meals. I like to prepare my special Caesars Salad Dressing and Grilled Bell Pepper Salad. I get the bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and lettuce from our family’s Leisure Farms. I also bake focaccia bread to go with the Chicken Liver Pate and Pesto Dip, which I prepare. The basil is from my garden or from Leisure Farms. For the children, I prepare Baked Spaghetti using my grandmother’s recipe. My gradeschool classmates ask for this during our potluck dinner. For dessert I bake apple pie, and my daughters Cara and Mariana bake banana muffins and chocolate chip cookies.
4. Home-cooked orders. I like to order food like pancit molo soup, fresh lumpiang ubod, baked chicken with lemon grass, from my grandmother Carmen Consingla’O, who is from Bacolod and IloIlo. For dessert, I like the chocolate cake of Alby’s cousin, Lynette Villareal.
5. Table setting. I plan my theme depending on the guests. For a big group, I use standard white plates and just change the tablecloth, charger, napkin rings, centerpieces and candles. I also get chairs from my friend Maru de Ocampo, who supplies most events with lots of variety, even Windsor Chairs.
6. Flowers. For a small group, I buy flowers and do the arrangements myself; for a big group, I tell my florist what kind of flower arragement I like and the flowers to use. I make sure all areas of the house have flowers that go with the theme.
7. Giveaways. My giveaways are things that I made like focaccia bread, liver pate, muffins or cookies that my kids baked.
8. Drinks. Alby and I discuss what drink we should pair with what dish, and we try to find out what our guests prefer. Soft drinks are standard, but I try to find out if some prefer a special diet drink. With the appetizer, we serve Cava or Prosecco; with the main course, red and white wine; with dessert, Sauternes or port wine; for after dinner, single malt and liqueur, coffee (Nespresso, regular, decaf or espresso), tea (taraggon and mint leaves from my garden).
9. Music. If it were up to me, I’ll always have ‘80s music. Our daughter Cara uploads Spotify and we just choose. Music is very important because it sets the mood for the evening.
*This article was originally published in Metro Home and Entertaining Vol 12. No. 2
Photographs by William Ong