CK Summer Solstice: Dinner on the Amalfi

There’s something about the start of a season that I absolutely love. The changing seasons seem to be nature’s way of nudging us forward to learn new things, try something different, or just take a minute to reflect. I’ve always wanted to host a party for Summer Solstice, because it’s a beautiful holiday with special meaning.

Earlier this week, I got to make that happen as we hosted our CK Summer Solstice dinner. We gathered a small group of talented bloggers and a few of my favorite food brands for an intimate and interactive dinner party.

Our dinner guests included Anna (Viva La Food), Ashley (Craft + Cocktails), Betsy (Betsylife), Brandy (Will Bake For Shoes), Davida (The Healthy Maven), Kara (Whimsy Soul), Katey (The Violet Fog), Megan (Attn.To.Detail), Sarah (Family Food Fiesta), and Skylar (Styled By Skylar).

CK Summer Solstice 2017

While most summer solstice parties are based on a Midsummer’s vibe, I wanted to try something a little different. Our dinner was inspired by one of my favorite places in the world: Italy’s Amalfi Coast — shades of ocean blue, colorful beach umbrellas, fresh lemons, vibrant bougainvillea, and of course my Vespa, Spritz!

CK Summer Solstice 2017

Read on to see how we brought the beaches of Amalfi to the San Francisco Bay, thanks to our sponsors: Giovanni Rana, Kite Hill, Miss Jones Baking Co., and Tartly Shrubs.

Cocktails with Tartly Shrubs

We kicked off the evening with aperitivos made with Tartly, a sparkling fruit shrub. I love that it’s ready to drink, unlike most fruit shrubs that require you to mix them with water. Also, Tartly is made with real fruit juice and apple cider vinegar, so it’s a healthy alternative to sodas and gives you the health benefits from drinking vinegar.

CK Summer Solstice 2017

The bar featured two Tartly cocktails:

Tartly sells a third flavor, Ginger Pear, that would be especially delicious in a fall or winter cocktail.

CK Summer Solstice 2017

Of course we had to bring in our signature DIY garnish bar! We set out fresh raspberries, blueberries, mint leaves, and more for guests to dress up their drinks. One of the popular garnishes was our blueberry ice cubes. They’re super easy to make: just drop a few clean blueberries in each ice cube tray slot, fill with water, and freeze.

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

Build Your Own Crostini with Kite Hill

Alongside the cocktails, we had a Build Your Own Crostini station featuring Kite Hill Ricotta Cheese. Kite Hill makes almond-based (dairy-free) artisanal cheeses, yogurts, and more.

So many of my friends are Kite Hill fanatics, and even as a someone who loves traditional dairy, I can see why! Their cheese takes any piece of toast to the next level with its easy-to-spread texture and great tasting, versatile flavor.

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

This station included crostini and sweet potato “toast”, served with two kinds of Kite Hill ricotta: one flavored with olive oil, salt and pepper, and another flavored with fresh lemon zest. We set out Italian-inspired toppings including Giovanni Rana pesto, olive tapenade, marinated artichokes, apricot and fig jam, and more to load up their small bites!

CK Summer Solstice 2017

We just had to add in a crudité platter to bring some fresh veggies into the mix. For the dipping sauce, we made a Green Goddess dressing using Kite Hill Unsweetened Plain Yogurt. I usually make this recipe with dairy-based yogurt, but Kite Hill’s yogurt substituted perfectly.

CK Summer Solstice 2017

Set the Table with Giovanni Rana

You can’t have an Italian-inspired dinner without pasta, and thanks to Giovanni Rana we had that covered. Their refrigerated pasta is the best I’ve ever had – it’s made with real ingredients sourced in Italy and doesn’t contain any preservatives. And, since refrigerated pasta cooks much faster than dry pasta, it’s the perfect store-bought ingredient for a last-minute dinner party.

Before dinner, we setup a table-scape station where guests could “set the table” with a few Giovanni Rana pasta dishes we had prepared and styled. From an assortment of linens to flatware, our guests were inspired to make it their own!

  • Giovanni Rana Tagliatelle with Clams
  • Giovanni Rana Spaghetti with Green Olives and Zesty Breadcrumbs
  • Giovanni Rana Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli with Basil Oil and Grilled Corn

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

CK Summer Solstice 2017

Buon Appetito!

After mingling over cocktails and crostinis, we eventually moved our way over to the dinner table for a family-style Italian feast featuring Giovanni Rana and Kite Hill.

CK Summer Solstice 2017

But before we started eating dinner, I had one important thing to do. I really wanted the group to feel free to disconnect from the outside world and immerse ourselves in the moment with each other. So under each place setting, we hid a little cell phone tote for each guest to keep their phone in during dinner.

Everyone happily embraced the idea and put their phones away for the entire meal. I think it made people more relaxed and less stressed to have to capture the “perfect moment” for Instagram since we had a photographer taking photos for us.

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

CK Summer Solstice 2017

Here’s a peek at the dinner menu:

  • Tricolore Salad with Giovanni Rana Pesto & Avocado Dressing and Kite Hill Soft Fresh
  • Giovanni Rana Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli with Basil Oil and Grilled Corn
  • Giovanni Rana Tagliatelle with Clams
  • Giovanni Rana Spaghetti with Green Olives and Zesty Breadcrumbs
  • Roasted Shrimp and Cherry Tomato Skewers with Kite Hill Soft Fresh
  • Braised Chicken with Lemon

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

CK Summer Solstice 2017

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

We served the dishes family-style, because we love the interaction that comes with passing a plate to your neighbor. It’s a small detail, but we think it really matters in creating an intimate experience.

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

Under the (Med) Sea with Miss Jones

To end the evening on a sweet note, Sarah, the founder of Miss Jones Baking Co. led a cookie decorating station inspired by the inescapable mermaid toast trend.

Miss Jones Baking Co. offers a variety of organic, plant-based baking mixes and frostings. For this station, we started with freshly baked Miss Jones’ sugar cookies and vanilla buttercream frosting. With a collection of all-natural toppings from spirulina to turmeric to rose petals, guests were able to sprinkle and swirl to create beautiful pieces of cookie art.CK Summer Solstice 2017

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

This would be a fun and easy party idea, especially if you use Miss Jones’ cookie mixes. All you have to do is add an egg and butter, and you’re ready to get baking!

CK Summer Solstice 2017
CK Summer Solstice 2017

Our CK Summer Solstice dinner is just one of the many ways I’m excited to bring people together through food. It was wonderful to see real and meaningful conversations happening.

Even more, I want Confetti Kitchen to inspire you to gather your friends. Hosting friends at home can be rewarding not only for you but also for your guests. The conversations that happen over a meal at home are often more interesting and thoughtful than those in a rushed, loud restaurant. And trust me, your friends won’t remember that time you over-salted a dish. You don’t need fancy table settings or flowers. They’ll leave your home thinking it was the best dinner party, because of how it made them feel.

So perhaps this season is the perfect time to try something new and open up your home to your friends for a simple dinner. If you ever need hosting advice or recipes suggestions, just say hi and I’ll be glad help you out!

Happy summer! Or as they say in Italian, buona estate!

CK Summer Solstice 2017

Comments

  1. Rezel wrote:

    You guys did such a great job with this dinner. I really had FOMO reading the recap. Can’t wait for your next one!

    Posted on 6.23.17 | Reply
    • Cynthia Samanian wrote:

      Thanks so much for the sweet message, Rezel! I’ll definitely let you know when we have our next event!

      Posted on 6.23.17 | Reply

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