Divas and Dragons and Dishes: Chinese New Year Recap 2012

I’m definitely still full from our “Year Of The Dragon” Chinese New Year Potluck event. Two weeks later?! How much food did I eat?

While the food was PLENTIFUL and STUPENDOUS and while I definitely had my fill, I’m brimming from our friends who bring their enthusiasm and their best to every event that Ken and I host.

I love the lead up to this event: The #TigerCNYPL twitter feed lights up with questions like “What should I make?”; “What are you making?”; “Please make… !” speculating and scheming. I love being the keeper of the menu. It’s both sweet torture and a thrill each time I ring the virtual gong, adding each dish to the feast and announcing it on the feed. 

As the menu grows bigger and the day of the event grows nearer, the anticipatory tweets get more frenzied. Everyone is excited about tasting each others food and getting to spend time with one another. A fun-filled feast and love fest—what more could you want?

Well, there is one moment, as the host, I could live without…

The Scariest Moment at a Food Blogger Potluck

For those of you who couldn’t join us, let me paint a picture.

On the day, the guests arrive totally fired up! They exclaim, “Wow the space looks great”. The Tiger beer is flowing…

One by one they settle in and get their dishes organized and begin filling the tables.

NOTE TO SELF: Next year we need a time lapse camera shooting this progression.

The room fills with kisses, hugs, “Mmms”, “Ooohs”, “Ahhs” as well as the sound of cameras snapping away and tummies rumbling in anticipation. After each guest positions their offering, they move to the sidelines to watch the parade of buffet arrivals with widening eyes and “When can we eat?” plastered on their faces.

The “pot-pararazzi” keep shooting and the food keeps coming. As the dishes get added and shifted, the table seems to groan under the weight of all of the deliciousness… Wait… is that groaning coming from the table? No, it’s the guests. The “Is it time yet?” and “I’m hungry” start being muttered, then uttered, then whined… Ken has the camera glued to his face so he’s protected by his “muse”. I’m left to face this most difficult moment of the potluck alone. I get to be the bearer of bad news. I paint an apologetic smile on and say, “Just a few more minutes”  over and over and over…

With a food blogger potluck, I have to hold back a starving crowd until a critical mass of dishes are on the table, so everyone gets great photographs for their post. I become very unpopular in this crevice of time. All eyes are on me as I run over the list of dishes in my head, trying to figure out, “Who are we still waiting for?”. I know they are looking at me with daggers, no knives. I know, I’m risking a possible mutiny.

And just when the crowd looks like they’re about to turn on me…. I say, “Come and get it!” Popularity is restored. I breathe a sigh and get out of the way! I grab my video camera to capture the FRENZY! Immediately, it’s apparent that the waiting was worth it!

I’d made four dishes. Only one was a total disaster. I’d experimented and went way too complex. I tried to transform a dish that really should be cooked to order and served hot into a buffet item—I failed. It took hours to prepare and I wound up chucking most of it out. Plus, I forgot the platters to serve my food too! Yes, I am the one who sends the guests a DON’T FORGET checklist reminder. I had to wait for my mom to bring my platters, so my dishes were really LATE getting to the table.

I learned my lessons.. and I wrote down, lest I forget.

Five Factors for a Foolproof Potluck dish:

  • Keep your dish simple, flavorful and easy to prepare.
  • Make a “set it and forget it” dish that you don’t have to worry about.  Free yourself up, so you can enjoy eating all the food you didn’t make and hanging out with your friends.
  • Make a dish you can eat with your fingers, one hand or just a fork, since people often have to eat while holding their plate in one hand.
  • Make a cold dish or at least one that still tastes good served at room temperature.
  • Bring your dish already plated or at least pack the serving dish first.

My most popular dish was Toasted Black & White Sesame Chocolate Bark. I used to sell tons of it at the my chocolate cafe. I didn’t plan to make it, but it was good way to use up the leftover chocolate from making Black & White Sesame Chocolate Dipped Kumquats. Kumquats dipped in chocolate ROCK!... if you like kumquats…

I devised this dish at the last potluck and April Somboun begged me to make them again. She ate almost all of them last year… and this year too. They look fabulous! I also made some Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. The disaster was an attempt at Shrimp Saigon Pancakes, Banh Xeo. I will make them again, to order, at another event.

The menu was AMAZING! Unfortunately we always lose a few peeps to circumstance on the day, but I left their dishes because they really wanted to be there and we really missed them too.

I actually did not eat enough variety of the dishes at the potluck. I had terrible food regret the following day. I managed to pack up a few leftovers, but I lost them in the shuffle.

And yet, here I am, still full. Between our events, I bask in the good fortune that is synonymous with Chinese New Year. Ken and I are so lucky to have such a fantastic community of friends who pour their creativity, hard work and love into their food and then share it with us.


Ken captured so many wonderful pictures of the food, the crowd and his stunning Sesame Gold Nugget and Auspicious Walnut Cookies
Kathy brought the divine Duck Pancakes
Kirsty whipped up the best homemade Fortune Cookies I ever et
Kristen stir fried up a yummy classic Kung Pao Chicken
Dan sweeten the deal with his Five-Spice Almond Cake
Sarah brought a AustralAsia chicken curry that made me homesick for Oz
Maggy whipped up Honey Walnut Shrimp like a master
Justin brought Beef Rendang and Pork Adobo and wrote: “the Tiger Beer Chinese New Year Potluck — this is not a recap”
Georgie brought Fun-tastic! Fruit & Chocolate Wontons
Margaret made my day with her Sichuan Wontons in Red Hot Oil

I’d like to thank Tiger Beer and the Baddish Group for supporting Chinese New Year Potluck this year. The room looked festive. We were grateful to be able to open the event to more people. Tiger beer complimented the food beautifully and was appreciated by all.
I encourage you to create or join into event in your community and join our if you’re in town. Our next event is Spring Tea Party Potluck—looking forward to seeing you there!

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The Diva That Hosted Chinese New Year Potluck 2012

Ken and I threw Chinese New Year Potluck. The tri-state food blogger and friends community came together, each bringing a dish, and together we wound up with a stupendous feast of amazing foods from all over Asia… and we ate it!