The Little Dinner Party That Could

I love a challenge. I really do. Which is why, when the opportunity to throw a dinner party sponsored by POM Wonderful landed in my inbox, I jumped at the chance. I submitted a menu and party plan to the folks at POM a few weeks ago, and now I am deep in the plan and prep mode, with just two days left until I host my very own POM Party!

However, I have hit some bumps in the road throughout this process. My little dinner party, like the little engine that could, has caused me to stop, breathe, and say “I think I can…” on more than one occasion.

It all started when I became a host. I was selected by POM as one of 100 party hosts to compete in the challenge. I was super excited and sent back all the required information, only to find out that I had responded just a few hours too late to receive my party package in time to throw a party. After a little negotiation with POM, the good people there found a way to get me my party package in time to compete!

For the next week, I planned recipes, invited guests, and designed the decor. Then I got nervous when my party package didn’t arrive at my work address as requested. The deadline to receive packages passed, and I had no pomegranates. After taking a deep breath, I reasoned that perhaps shipping fresh fruit from California to Virginia might take an extra day. I resumed planning and then got SLAMMED with a major head cold earlier this week.

So there I was with a dozen recipes, no pomegranates or party materials, and serious nasal congestion. I tried to cheer myself up by shopping for decorations and ended up with these odd little clusters of fake fruit, including miniature faux pomegranates. They are either adorable or they are cheesy. I’m not sure; the Sudafed chose them.

I could not smell or taste anything, so poor Kyle has been a victim of my test kitchen this week. Tonight I presented him with three piles of baby spinach leaves, each dressed in a slightly different homemade pomegranate vinaigrette, and asked him to choose the best one. I tried to pitch in by substituting an experimental pomegranate-based cocktail for my Nyquil one night earlier this week. It knocked me out just the same, but was significantly inferior as a cough suppressant. Kyle said it tasted good though, so it might be a GO for the party.

Today I received my pomegranate party package, but only after I nervously tracked the shipment and discovered that it was delivered to the warehouse connected to my office last week. I sauntered out to the warehouse to claim my Californian fruit, and was greeted by the warehouse manager: “I have your package, but there is a problem with one of the boxes.” I thought, you have got to be kidding me. We walked to the corner of the warehouse to a small pile of three boxes. Two were from POM Wonderful. Another was in a box with my company logo on the front.

“I accidentally ran over the one with the forklift. These things were inside of it. Three of them were damaged and those little seeds went everywhere!”

He had never seen a pomegranate before. I had to laugh when I envisoned how he must have reacted when he backed over this cardboard box and it started bleeding dark red seeds. I was not worried about the three damaged pomegranates; I was just happy to finally have my party package.

The whole scenario caused such a stir at my office and it prompted endless questions from my coworkers, so I took one of the bruised pomegranates from the box and held an impromptu session on how to enjoy a pomegranate, right there in the break room. I figured it would be a good rehearsal for this weekend. I did not have a large bowl or mesh strainer so I improvised the following method. I will post my preferred method next week, but sometimes this is all you’ve got to work with.

Slice off the top of the pomegranate.

Remove the top completely.

Gently score the outer skin in four places, dividing the fruit into quarters.

Separate the four sections by pulling them apart.

Gently separate the bright red arils from the creamy colored pith. Place the arils in a bowl and discard the peels.

Claim your reward!

We passed the seeds around the office and they were a big hit. I am starting to feel a little better, so I hope I will be healthy in time for the party. When I got home today, I opened the two other boxes from POM. One was filled with POM swag and the other was filled with. . .

Twenty more pomegranates! Oh my!

I think I can, I think I can. . .