Words and photography by Nikole Herriott & Tara O’Brady
We’ve been thinking a lot about hospitality lately; about camaraderie and the ease of a time spent in good company, most especially when gathered together to share a meal.
We have an unabashed partiality for Sunday suppers and for Friday night sips with a gang of pals after work. For nibbly food, picked at plates, and long conversations sustained over lazy, leisurely hours.
In the same breath, we’ve got a real fondness for the small occurrences of conviviality; those moments that spark our days with cheer. Running into a friend in line at the store with enough time to hear all their news, a last-minute invitation for a walk after dinner, or getting a letter in the mail and taking the time to read right away.
Holding fast to the belief that the feeling of leisure and companionship isn’t necessarily about an investment of time but instead about invested intent, we thought to propose to a radical plan; a stolen hour for a fanfare-worthy weekday breakfast or lunch, for you and another to start a busy day, or as a break at its middle.
While there may not be the bells and whistles of a full-blown party, the sandwich-and-fruit-and cookie affair we’ve arranged achieves the nicest aspects of one — memorable companionship with a touch of the festive in unexpected attention to details. We particularly like to take it outside, because we’re in the midst of summer here and we’re eager to spend every possible opportunity soaking it all in.
Rest assured, the entire agenda is utterly doable with a modest effort. In the first place, none of the food is demanding in its preparation — we’ve made the whole production even easier by dividing the jobs into a handy itinerary — and, what’s more, the food is immensely crave-worthy; a goal that makes the getting there that much easier.
It goes like this. You call a friend and say you’ll see them tomorrow, for breakfast or lunch, you choose. Say it’s a Wednesday, because that’s occasion enough, and ask they bring the coffee. That night, you can do most of the work. There are cookies that come together in minutes and simple syrup to simmer. It just takes a stir or two for the vinaigrette. Last but not least, you slick tomatoes with olive oil and dress them with thyme, and tuck them in the oven right before you get yourself in bed.
The next day you grill some toast while the bacon’s cooking. Tumble the berries together and drizzle in the syrup to make a salad that’s bright like July. Juice two grapefruits and fry some eggs. By now your company’s arrived and you can drink the coffee while you stack the sandwiches and add some bubbles to the juice. And that’s it, you’re off.
Outside on a stoop like we have here, on a park bench, or really even there at the kitchen counter, when the sun is soft and only beginning or when it is at its height, it’s the sort of any day visit that can (and should) become habit.
Nikole Herriott is half the partnership behind the housewares shop Herriott Grace. Born in British Columbia she now lives in Toronto, Ontario. Tara writes, cooks and lives in Niagara, Ontario with her husband and their two young sons. You can read some of her work at sevenspoons.net.