Her entertaining skills are notorious and her taste, exquisite. Whether you have been among those to receive an invitation to one of her home gatherings or you are attending The Little Green Store's monthly art openings, the moment you step foot inside an Ana Byrne party you feel the warmth, the love and the attention to detail behind it all.
You will meet someone new at almost every gathering, the food will be simple yet interesting, and the atmosphere lively yet relaxed. The ease and grace in which Byrne entertains is something to be admired. We sat down to find out just how she does it.
Byrne advises, "Have a plan, a great guest list, and do as much as you can ahead time." She continues, "I choose recipes in which I won't be cooking the whole time."
When it comes to serving pieces, a look around The Little Green Store reveals some of the most gorgeous items for setting the table, many made by local or regional artists. A collection of wooden boards, intricately designed deviled egg trays, Orbix glass pitchers, vases made by local potters; Ana says, "I always, always have wooden boards for charcuterie and I like to have pitchers full of different drinks - sparkling, nonalcoholic, juices, wine, something for everyone."
One of the biggest game changers Byrne has enjoyed in recent years is ordering through Shipt, "I do an annual membership to Shipt and order all my basic groceries from them. Everything except specialty items, cheese, seafood, or meats I order through Shipt and schedule deliver. I can go on and do this days before or the day before with ease."
Byrne insists, "People always ask What can I do?, take them up on it. For instance, baking isn't my thing and I have a friend who makes wonderful desserts, so I accept her help and she makes the dessert. When I go to her house I offer to help by bringing charcuterie or a side."
Guests being comfortable and relaxed is the priority of any Byrne party. "Don't put so much stress on the food, make things you feel comfortable with that aren't taxing. Never try a new recipe with new guests, that is just unwarranted stress." Byrne feels, "People come for the company and conversation, the food is an added perk, but not the focus."
Something she learned years ago with The Little Green Store art openings is, to pick the serving dishes in advance and label them. Inevitably someone else may be dropping off food or placing the food on the table while you finish getting ready, "Have it labeled so if your husband or a friend is placing it on the table they know where it goes."
Being a local business herself, Ana shops locally for her specialty items. "You can find almost everything at Star Market, I love AV for seafood, and if my friend who bakes cannot make a dessert I pick one up from Moon Bake Shop downtown."
If you want to join the party, Byrne's main entertaining happens every first Thursday of the month at The Little Green Store with art openings featuring a local or regional artist. thelittlegreenstore.net
"Have a plan, a great guest list, and do as much as you can ahead of time. I choose recipes in which I won't be cooking the whole time."
"People always ask What can I do?, take them up on it. For instance, baking isn't my thing and I have a friend who makes wonderful desserts, so I accept her help and she makes the dessert."