beach party

July 09, 2014

With all the coastline we have in California, almost 1000 miles (and really it's more than 3,000 if you count all the insies and outsies of the coastline) you would think there would be lots and lots of houses right on the beach, right?  But no, there are not all that many.  There are many houses with water views because of the mountain ranges that hug our coast, but beach houses on the sand are rare.  So if you have a house on the beach, well then, it almost has to be a beach party house.  Because a beach party at a California beach house is really the best kind of party.

Our friends have a beach house in Santa Cruz County and always find the time to have a few beach parties a year.  They love opening their house on July 4th (America's Independence Day) for their first big party of the year.  They are very generous hosts and their guests are blissfully unaware of the window washing, patio cleaning, furniture scrubbing and plant pruning, not to mention the cooking that has been going on non stop the week before.  We are all just happy to attend and enjoy the sun, the sea, the friends and the food.

The day was blue, bright and crisp, just a perfect northern California beach day.  There we were, with smiles on our faces and wine glasses in our hands, cool sand under our feet, music in our ears, views, bonfires, fireworks and s'mores, pure heaven.

A few things of note:

Just before dusk, a huge flock of at least 20,000 plus shearwater birds put on quite a show.  They are a type of long lived seabird that migrates great distances and might have been on their way to New Zealand!  They were flying low and feeding most likely on a swarm of anchovies.  The show went on up and down the coast for what seemed like an hour.  Amazing gift to see that, I could barely take my eyes away.

Also, I took a beach walk with a lovely woman whom I'd never met.  I asked her how she knew our hosts and she said she met them through Manresa, a fabulous restaurant in our area for which she supplies the vegetables.  I gasped, "So you are THE Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farms?"  She laughed at that but she is a bit of a celebrity around here if you are a gardener like me.  She has a large farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains and practices biodynamic farming and of course is completely organic and sustainable.  My husband and I plan on visiting her farm and I'll make sure I post about it.

The band was The Wild West Show.  So good, so fun, a blend of country rock and blues. We loved them. 

It won't surprise you to know that both hosts are fantastic cooks.  One day I'll have to post about their home garden, bee hives and poulet palace!  Casey posts her favorite recipes on her new Facebook page, Recipe Repetoire.  I especially loved her smoked trout pate.
Party Menu

feta puff pastry purses
grilled sausages
smoked trout pate (recipe below)
grilled butterflied lamb legs
yogurt sauce with orange and rosemary
honey mustard chicken legs
quinoa salad with kale
first tomatoes of the summer
chocolate squares
molasses cookies
gluten-free macaroons and brownies

Smoked Trout Pate
From "Nigella Express" by Nigella Lawson

2 smoked trout fillets, about 4 oz total
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 TB lemon juice
2Tb olive oil
1 Tb horseradish
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Toss all into a food processor and blitz til texture you like. Nigella goes all the way to smooth; I like it with some small chunks of trout remaining. Place in bowl and cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
This is a great party dish because it tastes even better if made a day or two ahead. Just before serving, taste to see if it needs more lemon juice and/or horseradish.
Serve with good crackers. Cucumber slices are nice for your low-carbing or gluten-avoiding guests.

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  1. I love your party posts the most! I pretend I'm there! Jo from Iowa, far from any beach house!

  2. Kristen, how I hope to attend one of those parties one of these days and meet YOU as well. Your photography is perfect and you captured the day beautifully. I am wondering if I would be able to go outside and enjoy the view after seeing a William Wurtster beach house! They always have reminded me of Paul and Julia Child, afraid of nothing and into everything.

  3. That food looks DELICIOUS! Thanks for sharing the lovely photos.

  4. Wow, what a great location for a lovely party. Great photos too, plenty of inspiration. Thank you.
    I'm intrigued by those lights on the steps, they look like paper bags with a light inside........?

  5. OMG! This is your best post ever!!! Your photos captured the moment.


  6. These people know how to par-tay!!! Oh, m' grand! I love it all!!! The band was a really great touch. That always lends life to a party that you just can't get through records. (Listen to me: records! What is this...1955??!?!) The food was gorgeous! The tomatoes were really pretty red and glistening with juice!!! Their home is absolutely lovely, and it was everything and more I would expect of a gracious beach house. Not a stitch of carpet to be seen anywhere!!! LOVE that!

    I just have to ask: I looked closely, and was that a volleyball net fashioned out of police line tape??? Maybe my old eyes are just playing tricks on me. I looked hard and then just laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Very MacGyver-like on someone's part if that's what it was!

    All those birds! I immediately would have thought of that Hitchcock movie and buried my head in the sand to protect my eyes, but then I would have missed something pretty spectacular. cool!!!

    I'm glad you guys had a great 4th and that you got to meet the famous produce lady! That's pretty neat! I look forward to reading your post that showcases her!

  7. Sigh. What an amazing party that must have been! Loved the menu and all the gorgeous ocean photos. What a perfect way to celebrate the 4th!


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