Serendipity Parties
Pleasantly Unexpected Ideas for Entertaining
Stephen Bruce

More than a mere coffee shop, more of an ice cream parlor on steroids, Serendipity has been synonymous with fun. Since 1954, its menu of outrageous desserts and fun food, served in a Manhattan townhouse amid exuberant Victorian decorations, has charmed children and their parents, not to mention celebrities from Andy Warhol to Beyonce.

So who better than to throw a party than these experts on celebration and what better reason to throw a party than no reason at all?

Themed party books bring to mind the scary perfection of Martha Stewart, and though Serendipity revels in the details, they do it with a louche wit that ensures hosts have as much fun as guests. “At Serendipity, we firmly believe that it’s fun to be frivolous.” So bring on the confetti and sprinkles, the champagne snowballs and the asparagus vichyssoise.

But you won’t find the usual calendar of events in this book. Of course, some holidays are irresistible for themed party givers. Serendipity marks Valentine’s Day with a desert island party, complete with seashell invitation, Gilligan’s island television shows re-running on the dvd payer, and a classic menu of aphrodisiac eats – chocolate, figs, oysters, and raspberries. And Halloween offers too many theme opportunities to ignore. Though Cher might show up any day of the week in what we would consider a costume, on Halloween Serendipity goes all out with a pumpkin carving artiste and a menu that includes Rosemary’s Baby Back Ribs, Make-You-Shake Mocha Cake, and Hot Mulled Wine.

But it’s under the category of no-excuse-needed parties that Serendipity really shines. At such a celebrity hangout, the Academy Awards must be celebrated. For your own “red carpet living room” Serendipity suggests dressing the table with a red carpet runner, or throwing a pre-party complete with hair and make-up stylists to pamper the guests, or asking your guests to compete to be the worst dressed! And of course, the menu must be glamorous – buckwheat blini with caviar and lobster salad.

Make a birthday boy or girl the star for a day with a surprise party, a spa party, or just enjoy a return to childhood with feasting on mini-meatloaf cupcakes ices with brightly tinted mashed potatoes and classic Shirley Temples.

Naturally a Serendipity Summer soiree revolves around ice cream, a bridal shower features fortune telling and dress-up games, and the menu fir a Mad Hatter Sunday tea includes Hangover Helper Omelet with cheddar cheese and the rejuvenating spark of jalapenos.

For all the fun and the bits of foolishness, the rcipes in this book are quite solid. Thai Slaw for a travel-themed party is spiked with lime juice, curry paste, and minced ginger. It will have your guests scarfing down the finely shredded cabbage, snow peas, and carrots. Tandoori Drumsticks are tangy and spicy, with a yogurt, cumin, garlic, and red pepper marinade that puts them firmly in the you-can’t-east-just-one category.

Serendipity’s cut-loose style will appeal to all ages, serve for all occasions, and please all your guests, and the host as well.

Reviewed by

Books-for-Cooks