A rambunctious group of ladies filled Lauren Castle's home last week with good music, good food and good vibes. They ate tacos, drank mezcal, played card games and dished amid a cacophony of laughs and stories set to the vocal splendor of Dolly Parton.
Lauren made her inaugural pulled pork tacos in a slow cooker and crowdsourced the rest of the ingredients - each guest brought a fixing to add to the mix. Courtney discovered a brand new food invention -- radishes dipped in queso (as opposed to the classic radish dipped in butter dish). They were insanely delicious. Get the recipes for everything HERE.
Along with Mezcal on the rocks, they drank two delicious bottles of wine, TK and TK. Both bottles were as easy on the wallet as they were to drink. Get the drink recipes HERE.
Lauren lit candles and dimmed the lights. The food was served family style with colorful plates right on Lauren's coffee table. Everyone assembled their tacos to order and, of course, they fought over the last drop of queso. Everyone took turns on record duty, playing Black Sabbath to Prince and everything in between. Get the playlist HERE.
They played several rounds of Exploding Kittens, which ended when Caylie screwed Courtney over big time (thanks a lot Caylie). They ended the night with an INTENSE game of Jenga, proving that the ultimate party game can always be played competitively, even after one too many glasses of mezcal.
There were five guests in all: Caylie and Kelsey - both television producers, Kellee - creator of amazing card games, Courtney - chef and creator of Ruined Table and the host, Lauren - also a television producer. Caylie won the fashion contest with her cropped FUCK sweatshirt. Everyone else basically wore pajamas and they would't have it any other way.
RTRTD stands for Ruined Table Round Table Discussion. It's that point at the end of the night, when everyone has eaten and everyone is sitting around the messy table, really connecting and having a great time. We talk about things. Whatever things we feel like talking about. Sometimes it's silly, sometimes it's serious.
On Dinner Parties
RT – Lauren, what’s your hosting steez?
LAUREN – I like to have really causal get-togethers. Super laid back; everyone coming in comfy clothes. Comfort clothes, comfort food…
KELLEE – Comfort people…
LAUREN – Comfort people, totally. And wine.
KELSEY – [to RT] What’s your favorite part of dinner parties?
RT – I’m the same as you guys. I feel like most of the time, when you read about dinner parties in magazines or online, it’s all like - [queue fake fancy accent] - “We brought out the best china, and this is the menu and we thought about this and that and we sat guests next to each other that we thought would get along...” I’m like the antithesis of that. You have to not think about it too much and just do it, you know what I mean?
KELSEY -- Do you think that’s changed with our generation? Like older generations have the fancier ones - if they hear dinner party, they’re thinking “Oh, the china!” But our generation thinks “Oh, we’re gonna have a dinner party here tonight…” [points to the coffee table full of dirty plates and wine glasses.] Cause no one has ever said dinner party to me and I’ve though… FANCY. Like I had jeans on before I came and you guys sent that text, - [saying to wear comfy clothes] - and I changed my pants.
RT – I think that there are two different versions of dinner parties. There’s the version that’s for a special occasion that gets planned to the nines and then there is the version that we do all the time. [The latter] version doesn’t really get talked about. And then there are the people who don’t throw dinner parties at all because they are freaked out and they think “Oh! What if the food doesn’t taste good? Or what if someone doesn’t have fun?” It’s so over-thought. But it doesn’t have to be. Today was perfect. Lauren, you threw a pork shoulder in the slow cooker this morning and we each brought over a few accouterments and we put it together on the fly and it was delicious.
KELLEE – Yeah, I agree with you. It’s more about just doing it instead of overthinking it and trying to Pinterest the shit out of it.
RT – Yeah the most important part is the connection and being together.
KELSEY – It does take some planning though. I mean, we group chatted about it. You can’t just be like “YA GOT MEAT?!?” What if you bring meat that goes badly with the crackers I brought. You have to have some planning to it…. like we planned to have a game and stuff like that.
RT – Yes, there was some planning. Lauren didn’t fuck around. She busted out the records, busted out the candles. There is a bit of an ambience technique, wouldn’t you say? It doesn’t take a lot, but it’s the little things that count.
KELLEE – It makes it a little more special. Like other than just a night in where you order postmates or something.
RT - And music is a big thing too. Which we’ve done a killer job with music, by the way.
KELSEY – Can we do Carole King at some point?
KELLEE – Yeaaaaah! I’ll do it right now.
KELSEY – I feel like it’s mainly about the people though. Sometimes you can have a dinner party to get to know somebody, like if Caylie and I had just started dating and you guys didn’t know me, this would be the perfect situation to meet me in, instead of going to dinner, where it’s super loud. We have control of every aspect of the night.
LAUREN – And I don’t know if this is just a southern thing, but food was always such and extension of love in a way, growing up. Our family cooked dinner all the time together and it was a way of showing your love- through food. A dinner party is like that times fifty. Not only does it have food, but it’s also like – “Come into my house!” And I want to make it fun and comfortable and feel good – it’s like a hug. A big ol’ hug.
RT – What about games and stuff? To me, dinner parties are all about the connection and the food is obviously very important, but it’s almost like a side effect of the most important thing, which is being together and having fun and obviously, you know, we’re about to play You’ve Got Crabs and Exploding Kittens, but are there any other things, as far as entertainment goes, that you guys like to do at dinner parties?
KELLEE – I honestly think games are the perfect entertainment for dinner parties. I can actually tell a story about how this game [Exploding Kittens] was made. The creator of Exploding Kittens had a big hand in creating Halo, the video game, and it made him really sad when he saw his nieces and nephews playing, and not talking to each other. They were just focused on the screen. So he decided to make a card game… and like Kelsey was saying, if she didn’t know us yet, this would be the perfect way to connect… because you have an activity to do instead of just sitting around looking at each other, and then the tendency is to look on your phone. So this keeps you off your phone. It keeps you connected and talking to the people that you are hanging out with.
KELSEY – A lot of people started having baskets you have to put your phone in. As long as you’re in that house, you have to put your phone in the basket… My family used to watch home movies after we had dinner… because you can just watch a clip for a second and be pretty satisfied and then talk about it for like two hours.
RT – Do you think there are any other alternative to games. Is there a world where we are all just sitting around talking?
KELSEY -- I’m trying to think of other things people do. I mean, they drink they dance.
RT – Dancing FOR SURE
KELSEY – Like, in a lot of movies when there’s always that scene after dinner when people just play music, get drunk and then just dance together. That’s really beautiful.
LAUREN – You’re right though – a dinner party without extended, undistracted interaction is just dinner. THE PARTY IS THE PEOPLE Y’ALL! Cause otherwise, you’re just having dinner! Like if we all sat here just watching a movie, it would be fun, for sure…
KELLEE – Yeah, but it’s not personal.
LAUREN – Yeah. We’re all getting to hang out and talk about our dates and work and lives.
KELSEY – Cocaine in Tijuana…. [long story…]
LAUREN -- Dominoes bathrooms in Mexico… [even longer story, but definitely connected to the cocaine in Tijuana story…]
KELLEE -- Bloody pigeons… [No pigeons were harmed in the making of this post…]
RT -- Ok cool we can stop now...
- as told to RT, condensed and edited for content