This past weekend, we hosted our Pom Wonderful Dinner Party that we told you about a little over a week ago. Although you might be vaguely familiar with the promotion from other participating bloggers (who by the way are completely rocking my WORLD with their entries), you might be a little entertained by how we came to be participants.
I got the contest email at work. It was a typical weekday. I was tired, overworked and feeling maxed out. But when I saw the subject line “POM Wonderful Dinner Party,” I was instantly excited. Neil and I love POM. It’s just a drink that makes you happy. Everything, from the taste right down to the shape of the bottle makes you feel like you are doing something good for yourself. So I entered, even though I thought getting chosen was a longshot.
The entry form asked us to describe what kind of meal we would serve using pomegranates as a main ingredient. I winced. Pomegranates? The juice comes from a fruit, I knew that, but they are so COMPLICATED! My pomegranate experience is limited to the one and only pomegranate I’ve ever bought. Not knowing what to do with it, I carved a tiny hole in it and for the next week, siphoned the little ariils out like I was defusing homemade explosives.
So I did what any newb would do: I just wrote whatever popped into my head. I thought for sure they’d laugh at my ideas (at the time they seemed REALLY out there and I was very vague with the details) but I wrote them down anyway. I enter contests all the time and never win, so why not? I filled in my contact information and hit “send.”
Well here we are and obviously they didn’t think my answers were as crazy as I thought they were. They wrote and said we’d been chosen and a week later three huge boxes arrived on our doorstep filled with awesome swag and pomegranates. Make that tons of pomegranates. In addition to all this, they’re offering ten prizes based on three criteria:
- Best incorporation of pomegranates into the menu/drinks
- Most inspired pomegranate decor
- Most successful “How to Open a Pomegranate” presentation
We decided that the theme of our party should be “A Non-Traditional Holiday.” As twenty-somethings family all over the country, the holidays are often a ping-pong game of trying to see everyone. Often times, like last year, it didn’t work out. Stuck in town with a horde of other misplaced yuppies, we threw together a meal and invited anyone who could make it out of their driveway. Cooking non-traditionally is not only flexible, but doesn’t leave you in a coma like a 20-lb turkey and gobs of mashed potatoes.
We enjoyed playing Iron Chef for a few days, experimenting with our yummy new subject and infusing pomegranate arils and juice in every area of our menu we could think of. This required a lot of juicing:
Start by slicing the head off the pomegranate.
Slice in half, using the membranes as a guide.
Slice each half in half, and place all four pieces into a bowl of cool water.
Keeping each piece submerged, remove arils and empty membranes gently with your fingers, making liberal use of your thumb and the inside of your palm. The arils will sink, the membranes will float, so they are easy to scoop out with a slotted spoon or spatula.
Drain arils into sieve and lightly rinse, removing any leftover membrane.
Place arils in a sturdy freezer bag and roll with a rolling pin or your hands.
Strain juice into a container and you’re set to go!
For our decor, we decided to create a warm ambiance with some added pomegranate-inspired flare (yes I said flare). Our centerpiece was a bowl of decorative balls with a pomegranate on top, flourished with red accents I picked up inexpensively in my mom’s basement (thanks mom!). I then created placeholders using individual pomegranates to hold the name cards by making a slice in the top of each of the pomegranates:
Each name card was created with two pieces of handmade paper, and cut with a custom paper cutter to create the lacy accent. A piece of sheer ribbon was folded between the layers of paper and inserted into the stem.
The stoneware sushi place settings were a Christmas gift my sister brought back after she and the fam returned from a 2-year enlistment in Japan. I accented the table with my extras from my wedding candle stockpile and put the swag bags at each setting to create a bit of excitement when my guests arrived. Nothing excites parents and a kindergarten teacher more than free totes!
I also accented our light fixture with Pom Wonderful-shaped hearts to bring more red into the decor. All in all I spent a grand total of nothing decorating for our dinner party. It was all created from items I already had around the house!
For our main course, we served pomegranate-infused fresh tuna sushi rolls. The tuna was marinated with a mixture of fresh pomegranate juice, lime juice, and a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. For the good stuff inside, we used a pomegranate slaw of julienned cucumber, shaved celery, sprouts and fresh pomegranate arils mixed with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. We also added a layer of pomegranate-infused cream cheese to give the sushi a bit of a creamy touch.
To top it off, we created a sweet and salty pomegranate reduction sauce, made with pomegranate juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and a touch of rice vinegar to drizzle over the sushi.
(If you’d like to learn how to make sushi at home, check out our easy tutorial on how to prepare the ingredients and make your own fillings!)
To accompany the sushi, we served a simple tangerine and pomegranate salad. A bed of greens with pickled shallots, tangerine slices, and pomegranate arils dressed with a simple pomegranate and red wine vinaigrette.
To drink, we made pomtinis; pomegranate martinis made with vodka, Triple Sec, and pomegranate juice, garnished with fresh arils for added flavor.
We also snuck in a new favorite, Morimoto Soba Ale.
We finished with a dessert of fried chocolate wontons, made with pomegranate cream cheese and dark chocolate. They were to die for, so we made some more the next day as well.
Finally, because we know you couldn’t be there to see us prepare all the wonderful goodies at our dinner party, we put together a short video tutorial on how to open a pomegranate, remove the arils and juice them. Fair warning, this is the first video we’ve made of ourselves, so we really have nowhere to go but up as far as quality.
So there you have it. A wonderful pomegranate-inspired dinner party that is simple and light on the wallet. We want to thank our guests, Kate and David of CapturingComo.com, and two of our best friends, Anja and Blake, who are a constant source of support, pet sitting, and are willing to eat all the interesting things we’ve cooked up over the years.
Check out all the photos from our Dinner Party on our Flickr and stay tuned for a break down of each recipe!