We don't mean to brag but one of our favorite things about living in Southern California is the weather. And the produce. Okay, that's two things. And both of those things inspired this latest Friends Who Fete party, a Southern California winter brunch.
The sunny days and year-round farmers markets are two things that give us big love for our home region so we decided to celebrate it with this brunch. We gathered together with our Friends Who Fete partners-in-crime, Kate and Meg and invited over a few girlfriends for a delicious (if we do say so ourselves) brunch.
The good news? Even if you don't live in Southern California, you can recreate the majority of this menu. The even better news? We believe brunch should be no-fuss and make ahead but impressive all the same so you can sleep in but still look like an entertaining star!
Ready to get a peek into it all? Read on for the menu, the decor, and tips for how to pull it off yourself.
This is one of those menus that looks impressive (and maybe a little daunting) but is totally doable. You can prep every dish ahead of time (just don't toss the fruit with the dressing until you're ready to serve it!) and it's a satisfying mix of brunch favorites (bacon! eggs!) and lighter flavors. Here's the full menu:
Blood Orange Ginger Sangria
Fruit Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing and Pistachios
Almond Ricotta & Roasted Rosemary Grape Tartines
Spinach and Onion Quiche with Hash Brown Crust
Pistachio Spiced Coconut Carrot Muffins
Tequila Brown Sugar Bacon
Oh, and even though it's a "winter" brunch, we actually used Spring flavors too, so it's the perfect late winter/early Spring menu. In other words, you're going to want to make this right now! Here's a deeper look into each dish we prepared:
We have so much incredible winter citrus in Southern California that we decided to put a ton of it in this sangria! Made with local white wine, blood orange juice, ginger liqueur, and a ton of local citrus — kumquats! blood oranges! Cara Cara oranges! — this is like taking a sip of winter in SoCal.
The minute March arrives, we're all-systems-go on Spring hence this fruit salad. Made with one of our favorite unexpected combos — fennel and strawberries — it's a totally sophisticated take on fruit salad.
Have you ever roasted grapes? Because it's one of our all-time favorite ways to serve the fruit. You could roast them and serve them as part of a cheese board but at least once try them this way — with a vegan ricotta and on a crunchy toast — because it's totally addictive.
How do you up the ante on quiche and hash browns? Combine them! Two of our favorite brunch dishes come together in this recipe and the sum is so much better than the parts!
Here at Salt & Wind we do not like overly sweet muffins, because, well, then they might as well be cupcakes. We like slightly sweet, slightly salty muffins that are a perfect pair to a cup of coffee. And, if we do say so, these muffins are just that. Inspired by carrot cake but nowhere near as sweet, these healthy-ish muffins are loaded with coconut, pistachios, carrots, and a bunch of spices. Oh, and there totally gluten free!
Last but certainly not least is the bacon. Let's be real: if you have a brunch and there's no bacon, is it even brunch!?!? All joking aside this bacon is a total showstopper with a sweet, smoky, boozy taste — we want tequila brown sugar bacon always and forever!
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BRUNCH
Look, brunch should not be a stressful situation. Yes, some are fancier than others, but, in general, brunch should be a low stress siutation where you can just enjoy your friends. Here's how to make it more fun than frenetic:
- Make As Much Ahead: The number one sign of a good brunch? The hostess isn't running around like a lunatic and cooking the whole time. That's why we always make our brunch menus as make ahead as possible. This whole menu can be made up to one day ahead (just don't garnish the sangria or toss the salad with the dressing until you're ready to serve it all).
- Decide On A Color Palette: Okay, this might sound fussy but it doesn't have to be. Just decide on a simple color palette (ours was sage, blush, and white) and run with it for the florals and (if possible) the tabletop decor. It'll make everything feel cohesive even if none of your plates or linens are matchy matchy.
- Make Mostly Allergy Free Foods: Our brunch had guests who were gluten free so we made sure to make the menu 100% gluten free. These days we do our best to have at least one dish on the menu that's safe from every major allergen (dairy, nuts, gluten, etc) so we don't get thrown for a curve ball if someone shows up last minute with a dietary restriction.
- Lean Into The Season: We're big on seasonality around here and that includes the winter season. We actually threw this brunch at the end of winter and start of Spring so it's kind of a "swing season" meal in the sense that we had produce from both seasons at once. Point is: head to your local market and get the freshest produce you can find and build your menu around that for the freshest, low fuss flavors.
- Batch The Cocktails: If you're going to serve cocktails (which we think you should), then you should serve something that can be made in bulk. Whether it's a punch or something you can make in pitchers (like this Sangria or a margarita), make something that's easy to just set out and forget it so you don't have to play bartender all brunch.
- Buy A Bit: There's no need to be a hero and hand make every last item. Buy some croissants from your favorite bakery or have a guest bring a storebought dessert — so long as it's delicious, it's fair game!
- Start Midmorning: Brunch should be casual so there's no need to start first thing. Give yourself time to roll out of bed and have a few cups of coffee and then invite guests over when you'd already be getting hungry, say 11AM.
HOW TO FLORALS
This party we kept the florals super simple with a mix of blush roses, eucalyptus, and succulents scattered around the party in a bunch of glass bud vases.
Keeping in the blush tones and the ladiback theme of our brunch, we searched through our cupboards for plates, linens, and glassware to decorate the table. Here are a few of our favorites from the party:
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Photos by Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours