There’s no better backdrop for a party than the downtown Los Angeles skyline. With near-perfect weather all year long, you can have a barbecue just about anytime at 1133 Hope. Whether it’s on your own balcony or on the clubhouse or rooftop decks, you can enjoy great food, drinks and company in style. These tips will help you create the perfect barbecue bash.
Planning a menu for an outdoor party doesn’t have to be a daunting task, and it most certainly doesn’t have to be boring. Instead of typical burgers and hot dogs, create a festive theme and thread it throughout the night. For Italian, do grilled pizzas that guests can customize themselves, and add a few salads and a pan of store-bought tiramisu. Turkish night can be skewers, fresh salads, dips and flatbreads. Coastal Mexican can feature grilled fish tacos and have lots of ice cold beer on hand. The point is, the world is your oyster when it comes to meal planning. PS: Oysters are also fantastic on the grill!
Make it easy on yourself and cook one main dish and a side or two, and then pick up pre-made snacks, salads and more from one of the local grocery stores or restaurants. Potlucks are fun, but if that’s the road you take, be specific about what someone should bring so you don’t end up with five bags of tortilla chips and a tons of salsa.
Set up as much as possible as a buffet so guests can safely graze and you, the host, can enjoy the fun. When it’s time to fire up the grill, make that the centerpiece of the night.
Meat: Grilling steak doesn’t have to be as expensive as buying one ribeye per person. One trick is to slice the meat after grilling so your guests can help themselves to a few pieces. If New York strips are out of budget, look for flank steak, which gets you a lot of bang for the buck. Marinate the steak, grill only a few minutes per side, let it rest, and cut into thin strips for fajitas or wraps. Here’s a great recipe. If you don’t want to mess with too much bird, boneless chicken can be cubed, marinated and skewered for quick cooking. Don’t overlook pre-made sausages and links to add flavor to the entree platter.
Seafood: Salmon grills up beautifully. Try using a cedar plank for an extra dose of flavor (and no worries about the fish sticking to the grill). Look for the wooden boards at the Whole Foods seafood counter. Look for wild or sustainably raised rockfish, snapper or tilapia for excellent fish tacos. Change things up and throw shellfish like clams, mussels and oysters on the grill. Or go one step further: Paella.
Vegetables: There are few vegetables that can’t be grilled. Whole bell peppers can be sliced for side dishes or served whole; the trick is to steam to let them rest so steam helps lift the skin off before serving. There are countless recipes for grilling corn on the cob, but one of the easiest and fun ways is to just throw it on the fire, husk and all. Easy. Here are ideas for grilled potatoes, zucchini, green beans and even cauliflower are amazing when kissed by a little fire and char. You won’t need your stove once.
Side dishes: Think beyond pasta for salads and try using grains like farro, wild rice or quinoa. It also lends a healthy slant to a party. The easiest route is to pick up salads already made from local grocers or restaurants. Urban Radish in the Arts District has many to choose from.
Dessert: You can leave dessert up to your guests, or do something easy like throw halved peaches on the grill and serve with a dollop of ice cream or creme fraiche.
Pizza: You can create an entire party with pizza as the central theme. Buy pre-made dough from the grocery store (ask your favorite pizza joint if they’ll sell you some, too), and prepare a variety of toppings so your guests can DIY their own personal pie. Here are some tips to get started.
TOOLS + UTENSILS
If you’re making use of the 1133 Hope grills, you’ll need to have a few tools at the ready. Skewers for kebabs, spatulas, serving forks and spoons — make sure to plan ahead. If you really want to get fancy, create your own pizza oven with a pizza stone you can put right on the grill. There are a lot of stylish options for plastic plates and cups. This colorful dish collection from West Elm and Pottery Barn’s non-breakable glassware work both inside and outside of your home. Disposable is super easy, but look for biodegradable and sturdy options, like Bambu or similar.
ABOUT THOSE DRINKS…
For cocktails, think about creating them in batches and setting up a drink station away from the cooking and eating areas. Any classic created with a twist will get the host high marks, things like chili-lime mango margaritas, lemongrass and Thai basil mojitos, or a watermelon Moscow Mule are great party sippers. If serving alcohol, be sure to have non-alcoholic options for your guests. Add fresh fruit to pitchers of sparkling or flat water for something slightly elevated from the norm.