Method to madness: catering for the group getaway
Something can be said about focusing your energy. The more you focus it on something you love doing the more opportunities to do those things seem to appear out of no where. That was definitely the case with my "drop everything and go" trip to the Drakensberg with a group of friends. Yes, you read that right, my rant in the Rietvlei article about my friends being too busy pulled the right strings and boomshakalaka a group getaway fell into my lap.
A little background. It was not an impromptu trip for them. They had RSVP'd to their friends wedding ages ago. How I ended up tagging along was that the one man's plus one cancelled last minute. Enter replacement plus one; yours truely.
So I went from staring down the barrel of no plans, to a last minute long weekend in the berg with two of my dearest friends. As well as, their amazing friends; and a young man who turned out to be the worst date to a wedding ever. Not only did he rearrange the place settings so that he wasn't sitting next to me, but he didn't even ask me to dance. And, this lass likes to Sokkie.
Luckily I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea, but one hell of a shot of whiskey. So I had a massive party despite the non-whiskey drinkers antics. To the Gents out there, even if you don't like the plus one you ordered from your friends; at least ask them to dance. Unless Bohemian Rhapsody comes on, should only be 3 minutes of your life. It's just the polite thing to do.
* Ends Rant. Takes a breath*
Anyhoo... Back to the point of this. Now I can tell you how gorgeous the Drakensberg is, because it is breath taking and I wish everyone gets a chance to see it. But, I want to talk food.
Hold on, last side note. If you do go, we stayed in a gorgeous place called Ambleside Cottage in Winterton. It sleeps ten, four of the beds are single beds in the open loft area. Ideal for kids or your single friends. Whilst there are no hiking trails on the farm, you are close to many areas that have open access to trials ranging from a few kilometers to a few days. There are also many other activities in the area which accommodate for a range of tastes.
Now, back to the point again. Arranging food for a group trip is always a madness. The simplest method to do it, that many people choose to do is - everyone brings their own.
Now this method is great if you are with a super chilled group that do not mind if one person uses/ has a little bit of someone else's stocks. Without a doubt that will occur. The problem with this method is if anyone really does mind if you use their stuff. Also, there's so many different plans for each meal that things can be a little chaotic.
This is mine, that's yours, etc.
Did anyone bring tomato sauce?
Why do we have two salads?
Or worse, why are there absolutely no side dishes?
For many this doesn’t sound like a nightmare. But, I live to eat. So, I love variety, and a little pzazz.
Another method people use, which is much better than the above. Is each couple has a meal (or meals) to do. This relieves a lot of the chaos. Issues with this method is the cost if often not evenly spread. One couple might not be into cooking at all. While another whips out a five course meal.
Also, what on earth do you do about the token single person - do they have to do meals alone? Also, does your meal include catering for Susan's four children whose list of what they do eat is shorter than the list of what they don't eat? See, whilst the better method it can still cause a little tension.
The best method in my opinion, even though it sounds crazy on paper, is one designated planner and shopper. You can all cook together when there. Trust me it gets festive in the kitchen with the wine flowing, music pumping. This method requires a team leader, but the costs are definitely evenly spread at the end. Also, you will always have side dishes, variety and condiments.
How I use this method is I plan a menu. Send it on the whatsapp group - it is only a group trip if there is a whatsapp group. People say yes, for the most part. I run off do the shopping. And arrive with the food. We all cook together, creating great kitchen memories.
Me, being me, I go with as much prepped as possible so that we can focus on whats really important. Talking kak around the fire. At the end of the trip, or before, we divvy up the costs. Easy, peezy, lemon squeezy.
The menu I would have proposed for this particular trip would have been:
Due to the different arrival times of each person. Lunch would be a fend for yourself situation. Especially as most ate on the road.
Dinner, without a doubt Saturday night is braai night.
Meat: Chicken flatties, done in a lemon and herb spice. Per-peri sauce on the side. Texan spiced rump. Get the big one, and then slice into pieces to serve.
Sides: Garlic, bacon potato bake. Salsa Salad.
Dessert: Caramel apple pie with cream.
Everyone had planned before the trip to meet the groom for brunch.
Anyone who needed a pre-brunch snack, could nibble on any leftovers. Also I always recommend having toast, and rusks available.
Dinner: Bobotie (made a head, frozen and taken up), with yellow rice, an array of sambals, garlic bread and green salad with a tangy dressing.
Dessert: Malva pudding with custard.
Day of Wedding, we had to leave for venue by 14:00.
Breakfast: Full fry up.
Lunch: Something light - after all, us ladies had to fit into dresses.
Charcuterie board of three cold meats; a few cheeses; veggie sticks, stuffed olives; smoked mussels. Tzatziki, hummus, spiced eggplant dip; with ciabatta.
Tuesday: Leaving Day
Breakfast: Small fry up, and any left overs.
The snacks; a variety of crisps with dip, nuts, and biltong.
Varied, yet simple and balanced. You can go wild with all your favourite meals. Be as complicated, or as simple as you want. If you need help with menu planning I got a jar of 2 cents I'd love to put in!
As I mentioned before, this method allows for a lot of things, especially side dishes to be made before hand. For example you can make ahead the potato bake, the salsa salad, the caramel apple pie, the malva pudding to name a few. You can also marinade the meats before hand. Meaning a lot less to do on the trip. As well as cutting down on the number of food things to pack.
Another great bonus of this method is that it easily fits into using a cost divider app for all the trip expenses. I recommend Cost Split. Basically, you scan in each receipt into the app, and who paid it. At the end of the trip the app calculates who owes who what. Fabulous really.
The last method worth a mention is getting me to do it for you. This method is completely hassle free ;)
The Gourmet Hippo
Sometimes, I get out the Bush and doll up for a bit.