TOP ESSENTIALS: KATIE MARKS ON ENTERTAINING WITH WILLOW PARK VILLAGE
I was tasked with putting together a last minute housewarming gathering for E’s friends Monday evening – and being notified of this on Sunday, you know, the day before Monday, there was a little bit of panic.
A frequent procrastinator myself, I have a few tricks for pulling off a well-crafted nosh-session on short notice, and you’re about to learn one of my favourite one-stop-shops where I find everything necessary for any soirée.
Willow Park Village is the home to great stores and restaurants, each different and each selling local wares. From clothing to kitchen supplies to cheese in one convenient location, WPV has become a go-to for me.
With limited time to prepare anything complex, I went for everyone’s easy favourites – cheeses, breads and dips, and of course dessert. My first stop was at Meez which is known for their chef-made-to-go foods which are minus preservatives and plus great things like healthy, local, seasonal ingredients. I picked up fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes brought in from the Farmer’s Market, along with the most addictive dips (warm brie and artichoke, and the Jijad.. mmmmm), rosemary balsamic reduction, smoked flaked sea salt and then some more.
I sauntered (or jogged, if you were there as a witness) to COBS Bread across the way and picked up half of the breads in the store. When it smells that good and looks like a delicious-fluffy-carb-pillow, it’s hard to turn away. Jalapeño and cheddar, sourdough, a ham and cheese pull-apart, baguettes and scones galore! I had a few things in mind (one was keeping everything for myself) that I wanted to make with this incredibly fresh bread.
And with Springbank Cheese next door, picking up some unique and daring cheeses to please our guests’ tastebuds was next in order. From classic to adventurous you can be sure the best cheese is found here, and to make your life simpler, the staff are ecstatic to share their cheese knowledge (thanks Chris!). Mango-ginger stilton, Pierre Robert brie, Bellavitano raspberry-beer, Moroccan spice, Vermeer and Manchego are to name a few; I sometimes geek out on cheese! To top that off, undressed crackers and beet and red onion marmalade (this is a sure must try) made their way home with me too.
An hour or two later and I had everything I needed. With only a little bit of prep work for the bruschetta, I was laughing.
Take a peek below to see what I put together from WPV and hopefully it’ll inspire you for your next gathering!