Confessions of a party crasher


Melissa Stagnaro

I’m not usually much of a party crasher, but I made an exception this weekend. While visiting my friend Liz and her husband Kent in Connecticut, I tagged along with them to a party they’d been invited to back over the border in New York.

The party was an annual one, hosted by Marjorie and Greg McCord in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Despite the fact that Jorie and I went to college together, shared a shore house for a few summers in those post-college years and even played supporting roles in Liz and Kent’s wedding, I’ve never before managed to wangle an invitation to the much anticipated yearly event. But with Liz and Kent on the guest list, I saw my chance.

And now that I’ve been once, wild Irish horses (if there are such a thing) won’t keep me from crashing it again next year. (Jorie and Greg: Consider yourselves forewarned!)

Now, don’t be misled by my Italian surname. I trace more than half my heritage to the lush green isle from which St. Patrick chased all those pesky snakes centuries ago. And between my family, friends and four years at Manhattan College (the fact that the school’s colors are kelly green and white should tell you something), I’ve celebrated the occasion with the best of them. Or so I thought. Nothing I have ever experienced has compared with the holiday celebrated McCord style. It was truly the (Irish) creme de la creme of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

From the leprechaun toilet seat cover to the baskets of green beads, pins and temporary shamrock tattoos available so people could “Irish up” if they came unprepared, the McCords missed nothing in their attention to detail.

Everything had an Irish flare, including the finger foods set out before the guests arrived. Sure there was your typical chips and salsa, and cheese and crackers. But the salsa was green and the cheese straight from Ireland. Yum.

We arrived about an hour early to the party (I know, early and uninvited, how rude!), to find Jorie and Greg in the final stages of preparing 40 pounds of corned beef for the occasion. Yes, that’s right. 40 pounds. There were, of course, piles of cabbage, potatoes and carrots to go along with it.

Guests (of which between 40 and 60 were expected) were asked to bring something suitable for celebrating St. Pat’s Day. Liz, who is obviously not Irish, interpreted this as anything green and brought edamame. I went with mint chocolate flavored Bailey’s, and pretended I didn’t know her.

Despite the fact that I was introduced to most of the other guests as they arrived, I honestly don’t remember any names. What I do remember is what delectable dish they brought with them. Marjorie’s mother, for example, came bearing the most amazing Irish soda bread I’d ever tasted (served with real Irish butter of course.)

Then came the homemade potato soup, the Irish pigs-in-a-blanket, the rainbow punch spiked with Amaretto and some kind of rice dish which I can’t begin to describe. Just when I thought I’d eaten my fill, the Asian salad (complete with cashews) was passed around.

And finally, last but certainly not least, the Bailey’s truffles. One bite of those powdered sugar coated, Irish cream flavored balls of chocolate and I was in love. And I wasn’t the only one. Marjorie was forced to physically remove the plate of truffles from Dana’s hands after said guest tried to keep them all for herself. (I think Dana’s husband tried to cut her off after she kept going on about “Dave’s balls” – Dave being the gentleman who made the truffles.)

There was even talk of a fan club, complete with facebook fan page and  commemorative t-shirts. I’m anxiously awaiting my invitation.

Because of the two hour drive, we had to leave early and therefore missed the annual ping pong tournament and other festivities planned for the night. I didn’t want to go, but Liz, like some kind of Irish pied piper, lured me to the car with a piece of buttered Irish soda bread.

But never fear; as Arnold says, “I’ll be back.”