Imagine receiving an invitation to join a new friend and a friend of hers on the roof for wine, but you must absolutely arrive within 15 minutes of getting the invitation.
Oh, and the complete stranger doesn’t know you’re coming and is supplying the wine.
Here’s how to show up with something while not making yourself wild (or worse, late!) with preparations.
First things first, as soon as you get in the door (because you certainly weren’t in your home when you got this invitation), set a timer. For me, this was 11 minutes of the 14 I had left. Adjust accordingly, and respect the timer. Absolutely no “just one more thing.” Try, in fact, to beat the timer.
Grab a platter and any dried fruits you have in your house (at least that are in easy reach). Grab at least one and no more than three kinds of cheese, a cutting board and a knife. If you have anything else that looks like easy finger food, especially dessert-y finger food, grab it too. Grab a box of crackers.
Plate anything dry and easy to plate first. In my case, this was the chocolate orange (dark, of course), the dried figs, and the dried apricots. If you want, take a moment to make it look good on the platter, but do not get all perfectionist here. There’s no time and it’s not fun. And, frankly, the differing colors and shades will be enough to look good even if you don’t help.
Next chop more cheese than you think you need. Slice it reasonably thin, and roughly cracker shaped. If you, like me, are also using a crumbly cheese, try to make the crumbles a bit big, but don’t worry too much. People will eat it no matter the size of the crumbles.
Clean and then add any fresh finger fruits or veggies. Don’t take time to chop anything at this stage. Baby carrots or cherry tomatoes are good. Full size carrots or broccoli or bell peppers are a bad idea.
Finally, and this is really important, grab yourself a wine glass. Do not expect the person who doesn’t know you’re coming to supply you with one. Otherwise, maybe you won’t get wine!
Plating the above and making sure I had a wine glass, the box of crackers, and some water (not a requirement, but I like to do so) took me 10.5 minutes. I was upstairs right on time, and thus didn’t keep anyone waiting.
And I got a ton of compliments on my gourmet set-up. You will too, I’m sure.