About six weeks ago, I was about four weeks away from turning thirty. My mom floated the idea of having a party for me; in addition to her desire to celebrate the big 3-0 birthday, she was keen to host a party in her new home. Despite feeling like my wedding was so recent that it was a bit ridiculous to have another event with my name on the header, I liked the idea of getting my friends and family together in my home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first challenge was determining if we could actually get anyone to attend a December party that hadn’t been booked months in advance (we could); the second challenge was deciding what kind of food to serve.
My fun-loving and close-knit family has all sorts of diets: lots of traditional omni, some gluten-free, some working-toward-vegetarian, and me. With a guest list of about 35 people and several family members offering to bring dishes, we felt that an all-vegan menu might not be the best approach. Ultimately, we ended up with a mostly-vegan spread, accompanied by a small number of dishes that included fish or dairy. My thinking was that this way, I could demonstrate that the delicious vegan stuff holds its own alongside the traditional food, and maybe help a few people take some baby steps toward interest in a vegan diet without making them feel forced.
My mom did a wonderful job planning the menu, sourcing dishes from a variety of caterers, and choosing a few to prepare at home. I flew home the day before the party and the house was already decorated, the bar set up, and the dining room table covered with all the good servingware, all shined up.
EnVie is Halifax’s newest vegan restaurant. Their artichoke and spinach dip was a huge hit at the party, and a great example of an I-can’t-believe-it’s-vegan dish. (We had some leftover and I pretty much lived off of it for the next couple of days.) They also made me a beautiful and really delicious birthday cake that got rave reviews from everyone who tried it.
Tarek’s Cafe is a vegetarian/vegan-friendly and constantly bustling Middle Eastern restaurant that I always make a point of visiting when I’m in Halifax. The falafels we got from them were huge and greasily decadent; cut into quarters and served with Tarek’s tahini sauce, they didn’t last long on the table.
Halifax catering stalwart Scanway provided cold salad rolls with mint dipping sauce (superb presentation, and delicious – we only wished we’d ordered more of them!), tasty mushroom phyllo pockets, and tofu kebabs that were rather petite but very yummy. The standout from Scanway was the huge tray of vegan chocolate cupcakes. The icing was so thick you could have sculpted with it, and the edible glitter made them sparkle so prettily… they tasted as good as they looked.
The vegan offerings also included homemade hummus and guacamole, and a tray of beautiful canapés I whipped up featuring pomegranate seeds and garlicky baba ganoush on cucumber slices. We rounded out the vegan menu with lots of tortilla chips, pita, olives, nuts, and fruit.
The party was fantastic. The food was delicious. A good time was had by all. I really felt the love from my family friends on my birthday, and I’m excited about starting my thirties.
Have you hosted any vegan or mostly-vegan parties for an omni crowd? How did it go?