When my sisters and I were little, Mother’s Day was all about surprising mom. Paige and Lily would tiptoe down the hall to rouse me, the late-sleeping older sister, and we would sneak down to the kitchen, trying our best to keep the old wooden stairs from creaking. A quick brainstorming session around the kitchen island determined what would be on the menu and who was in charge of what. We then scurried about, keeping our volume to the lowest we could muster as to let mom sleep and savor the surprise factor. Any accidental bowl clanking resulted in death glares from the other two. We thought we were so creative with our layered berry and yogurt parfaits, heart-shaped pancakes, and thick smoothies. We carefully climbed the staircase, balancing our decorative tray, and proudly presented mom with a token of our gratitude: breakfast in bed. The meals we threw together never tasted as good as when she made them, but she hid it well, always beaming and acting shocked when we came in to wake her.
Nowadays, whipping up breakfast as a trio isn’t so easy. With two of us off at college, we’re hardly ever all in the same place at the same time. And when we are, mom is almost always up at least a few hours before we even begin to stir. But this year, I propose something special. To let everyone sleep in a bit and to give other guests a chance to arrive, an early afternoon brunch seems more fitting. The menu is also getting an upgrade from typical breakfast fare with elegant dishes reminiscent of a quaint bistro on a French street corner. My culinary talents have matured over the years, and this time I might even impress mom for real.
What: Mother’s Day French Bistro Brunch
For: Ten to fifteen family members and close friends
When: Mother’s Day, early afternoon
What to Eat: Use fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and breads to channel the open-air spring markets in France. Set out slices of crusty baguette with Warm Goat Cheese Spread to start. Follow with a simple Bistro Salad and creamy Leek Soup with Lemon and Dill. A few additional finger foods and easy side dishes will allow your guests to taste a little of everything while enjoying casual conversation. Set out plates of in-season fruits like strawberries and red grapes to complement the cheese and bring out French Deviled Eggs or Asparagus with Tarragon Vinaigrette for everyone to munch throughout the afternoon.
What to Drink: Mimosas are a tried and true brunch favorite, but for something festive (and a little stronger), offer up a fizzy French 75.
How to Set the Scene: Classic but casual is the key to a laid-back bistro vibe. If the weather is cooperative, place tables and chairs outdoors for an open-air setting. White tablecloths accented with pink and white striped napkins add a feminine pop of color. Small votive candles and fresh pink flowers make a simple but beautiful centerpiece. Set up a separate table laden with pretty desserts that guests can sample as they wish. Fresh fruit and cheese platters will do, but for something sweet, try a Chocolate Madeleine Cake, French Crepes with Nutella spread, or a Patisserie Fruit Tart.
Attire: Cigarette pants, ballet flats, and a colorful blouse is an outfit that will give anyone that chic, Parisien look.
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Hannah Doolin is a magazine journalism major at Syracuse University. She longs for the day when she can travel back to Paris and stroll along the Seine eating a buttery, just-baked croissant.