David Crowder lives large in a small space. When he and his partner, Criss Perry, built their brick townhouse in the Church Street East Historic District nearly a dozen years ago, he designed it so every room would open out onto the lush courtyard and petite 9-by-12-foot pool, a prime place for entertaining.
“When the weather’s right, I’d much rather be outdoors than indoors, ” he says. He enjoys preparing multicourse meals, particularly on the grill. He says the key is preparation. “You need to plan ahead and think it all through — not just what you’re going to eat, but where you’ll enjoy the food, and when and how you’re going to serve it.”
Over the years, Crowder has developed quite a knack for creating a chic soiree here, pulling out an array of entertaining accessories and picking a menu to match. Along the way, he has also acquired an impressive selection of fabulous party essentials to make it all happen.
“I have 26 sets of dishes, and I use them all, ” he laughs. Crowder confesses that he has already selected his 27th set: classic Fiestaware. He also has a sizable collection of linens and napkin rings. “I love to shop, ” he says. “I bought a new pitcher and glasses just for sangria.”
With a plan in place, Crowder can relax as he visits with company and cooks on his portable grill. (He stores it and a prep table in the garage.) “I get to mingle, have a good time and enjoy my guests.”
A festive, fun and slightly fizzy libation, sangria is ideal for dining al fresco.
1 orange, cut into 8 wedges or slices
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges or slices
1/2 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup Cointreau or triple sec
1 (750-milliliter) bottle of red wine, chilled
1 pint strawberries, halved or bite-size
12 maraschino cherries
1 liter soda water, chilled
1. In pitcher, muddle orange, lime and simple syrup. Add Cointreau and muddle
a bit more.
2. Stir in wine, strawberries and cherries.
Add soda water with a quick stir. Serves approximately 6 – 8.
Tomato and Shrimp Martini
“It’s so quiet and peaceful down here, ” says Church Street East resident David Crowder. A little arbor, dotted with lights and lanterns, connects the townhouse’s pool area to the courtyard.
This showy starter is especially impressive served in a mammoth martini glass.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled (marinate raw ceviche-style, or boil for just a minute or 2 prior to marinating)
8 plum tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon fresh jalapeño, chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bag Tostitos Scoops
1. Mix olive oil, vinegars, lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, basil and celery salt.
2. Marinate shrimp in oil mixture in a closed container and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain shrimp and save liquid.
3. In a martini shaker, add tomatoes, remaining salt and pepper, jalapeño and cilantro. Add enough of reserved liquid to coat thoroughly. Shake well.
4. Add shrimp, shake and pour into serving dish. Serve with chips. Serves approximately 8 – 10.