Gal's Only: A Galentine's Day Party in Austin, Texas
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I throw exactly one party a year: Galentine's Day. It's my take—as borrowed from Leslie Knope —on the most romantic day of the year, except less inspired by glitter hearts, pink silk, and red roses, and more by…things I actually like. The back-story: I'm the least-girly female I know. Everything I wear is pretty much a neutral-colored potato sack, and my at-home decorating palette follows suit. Nonetheless, I've always really loved the sentiment of Valentine's Day, and the simple notion of a day in which you can be intentional about showing people you care about them. Plus, it's remarkably rare that all of my good friends are in one place. What better occasion to invite over a big group of girls: a fun, funny, inspirational, and creative mix of old friends and newer acquaintances. I wanted the aesthetic to feel really natural but still feminine, so I brought in tons of flowers with the help of Austin floral studio Gypsy Floral , a couple of geniuses who created impressive arrangements with Icelandic poppies, olives, ranunculus, silver leaf, tuberose, willow, garden roses, trailing jasmine, and giant quince branches. I tried to keep everything else neutral and set the table with a simple white waffle table runner, semi-glazed Spanish terra cotta serving dishes (from an imports store in San Antonio), Wooden Plates from Brook Farm General store, and white taper candles in makeshift copper candle holders made from hardware pieces . For the menu, I went with "anything not requiring a utensil": three tahini-based dips (smoky beet hummos topped with feta, pistachios, and dill; spicy sweet potato dip with almonds, goat cheese, and parsley; cilantro-jalapeno hummus with pine nuts and lemon), (heart-shaped!) brie with honey and figs, breads from Épicerie , coconut macaroons (shown), and raw coconut oil truffles. Above: Blooming quince branches with white blossoms. I bought some sparkling wine and instructed my guests to bring something small to share—a drink, favorite cheese, or dessert. (At last year's party, things were a little less classy. Lesson learned: do not serve a menu of strictly sweets and red wine at a dinner party. People will pass out on your couch.) And the best part: party favors! I made homemade loose tea by mixing rose petals, vanilla bean, and black tea, then wrapped it all up in bound tissue paper topped with a little stick of palo santo incense. It's a totally easy and inexpensive gesture, but looks impressive all stacked up in a basket by the door. Galentine's Day recipes: Smoky Beet Hummus (Inspired by Linger 's hummus plate) 2 large beets 2 cups cooked chickpeas (one rinsed, drained can) 1/4 cup tahini Drizzle of olive oil Pinch of salt 1 teaspoon smoked paprika Lemon Sprinkling of dill, pistachios, and feta Wrap the beets in foil and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. Let cool and purée everything in a blender or food processor; top with chopped dill, pistachios, and a handful of crumbled feta. Spicy Sweet Potato Dip 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes 2 cups cooked chickpeas (one rinsed, drained can) 2 tablespoons of olive oil 1/4 cup tahini 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, and diced 1 lemon, juice and zest Pinch of the following: smoked paprika, cumin, sea salt, and cayenne pepper Sprinkling of flat parsley, almonds, and goat cheese Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. Let cool and purée in a blender or food processor; top with chopped parsley, almonds, and goat cheese. Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus 1 small jalapeño, seeded 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced 2 cups cooked chickpeas (one rinsed, drained can) 3 tablespoons of tahini Handful of cilantro Lemon Pinch of salt Sprinkling more of cilantro, as well as pine nuts or sesame seeds Mince jalapeño and garlic cloves in a food processor or blender before adding other ingredients; top with chopped cilantro, lemon juice, pine nuts or sesame seeds. For more entertaining ideas, take a tip from ceramicist Cécile Daladier in our posts Steal This Look: Parisian Oyster Party and Flight of the Bumblebee Celebration . For another mostly women event, have a look at the Retro Valentine's Workshop in Echo Park , which inspired Alexa's DIY Vanilla Bean Hearts.