When the 2 Party System isn't enough...help me make a great West Wing Party
September 3, 2010 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Big Block of Cheese filter: suggestions for a great West Wing party wanted!

Mr eralclare and I will be hosting a West Wing party on Nov 2. We're thinking of having WW-related food, maybe having people dress up DC-style (we're on the West Coast, so it would be "dressing up" for us), watching favorite episodes, etc. But we live in a very non-White House-type house. And I can only think of a few edibles that feature prominently in the WW story lines (a big block of cheese, chili, and the...uh...finest muffins and bagels in all the land?). What are some ways I can White-House-ify my abode? Small decor suggestions? What food/drink can you think of that screams "West Wing" to you?
posted by eralclare to Grab Bag (37 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
When I think of The West Wing and food, I always think of Josh and Mandy and those delicious-looking sandwiches from the pilot, Andy eating pie one of her constituents made for her in "Mandatory Minimums," and Ainsley and her peach from "17 People." So -- corned beef sandwiches and peach pie! And, of course, the Scotch that Toby is drinking in the past in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen." If you want some appetizers, you could always have New England Crab Puffs with Alaskan crab (from "The Midterms") or the more downscale apples and peanut butter ("Isaac and Ishmael").
posted by shamash at 7:02 PM on September 3, 2010

Oh -- and egg creams! That's also from "The Midterms," I think; Bartlet and Toby have a back and forth about how they're from Brooklyn ("Not New England?"), and it's hilarious.
posted by shamash at 7:06 PM on September 3, 2010

- Hot pumpkin soup with cheese gnocchi and a chevre brioche.
- California white sturgeon caviar with Stoli Cristall, "the most elegant of vodkas."
- Stew with well-cooked beef, peas and carrots and a base that is "well-spiced, much like myself." - Egg white omelette with toast, badly burnt. (Josh: "That doesn't give you cancer?" Amy: "They're not sure. That's why I have the egg white omelette.")
- and, of course, turkey. Just not a pardoned one.
posted by Elsa at 7:10 PM on September 3, 2010

Apples and peanut butter are mentioned in the aberration post 9/11 episode.

You could also have goldfish (the snack) in round glass bowls resembling one a goldfish (the actual animal) would live in. (In reference to the CIA agent who mistakenly gave C.J. a goldfish instead of...errr....goldfish).

New Hampshire maple syrup. I'm sure you can come up with something to have on it.

I think scotch and/or brandy are featured prominently in some episodes.

Wine definitely was as Josh's girlfriend involved with women's issues got "boozy with the first lady."

I'm sure I can think of more later.
posted by zizzle at 7:11 PM on September 3, 2010

I always loved when Leo tells Josh to keep things quiet because there's two things you don't want people to see how they get made: laws and sausages.

also, be sure not to serve Alaskan crab at this party
posted by dogwalker at 7:12 PM on September 3, 2010

There's a part where Leo rhapsodizes about deli sandwiches in "Evidence of Things Not Seen" and there was also a plot point somewhere about Mrs. Landingham withholding steak and other red meat from the President. And another one about how he didn't like...green beans, I think? I guess the writers of the show really liked meat.

Any New Hampshire related food (maple syrup, New Hampshire maple syrup)

When I think of the WW and food I always think of those breakfast meetings with pastries and stuff on the table and nobody actually ever eating them.
posted by phoenixy at 7:14 PM on September 3, 2010

Someone's gotta do the Jackal.
posted by robcorr at 7:15 PM on September 3, 2010 [11 favorites]

Small decor suggestions?

Oh oh! Get a stack of plain white cocktail napkins. With a felttip pen, write on them "Bartlet for America."
posted by Elsa at 7:19 PM on September 3, 2010 [8 favorites]

- A bottle of Champagne, buried in a pot of dirt. (Note 1: Unless you have an arboretum handy, in which case bury it there.) (Note 2: If you don't have enough champagne glasses, serve it in paper cups... which is how Mandy and Daisy drink a bottle of wine, sitting forlornly on the stairs after they're dropped from Lloyd Russell's campaign.)

- Can you carve? You could make a butter Elvis, a butter cow, or a butter Last Supper which has, I swear to god, butter on the table. Butter butter butter butter butter.

- Tahitian drinks, or at least whatever Josh thinks are Tahitian drinks: a Samoan
Fog Cutter, a Navy Grog.
posted by Elsa at 7:33 PM on September 3, 2010

You might be going more upscale than this, but it could be fun to print and laminate ID badges for everyone.
posted by libertypie at 7:39 PM on September 3, 2010

The napkins with Bartlet for America on them are absolutely the best suggestion you're going to get.

Other than that, you might see if you can get some cheap fish bowls and decorate them with items that were in Gail's fish bowl on C.J.'s desk. Also, serve goldfish crackers.

In the outer office outside of the Oval Office there was always a flag hanging up with little kids handprints instead of stars painted on it. That seems like an easy enough decorative item to make.

On a side note- I'm having a not awesome day and this thread totally cheered me up.
posted by shesbookish at 7:41 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

A grasshopper to drink, from Mr. Willis of Ohio.
posted by Dasein at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2010

From the same episode: maps where the Northern hemisphere is not at the top!

Also, for women: wear a skirt suit with sneakers. I lived in DC in the 90s and this was common.
posted by rtha at 7:56 PM on September 3, 2010

And from Five Votes Down - kung pao chicken and some other Chinese chicken I'm forgetting at the moment.
posted by Dasein at 8:07 PM on September 3, 2010

Ainsley Hayes talks about food, a lot. It's a running gag, the woman is always hungry. Off the top of my head, she mentions: pears, muffins, Fresca, Kung Pao chicken I think? You could have a special section just for her.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:27 PM on September 3, 2010

Honestly the most frequently consumed food/drink on the show was coffee, in massive quantities.

Have some bouncy balls to throw against the wall.

If you know anyone with a green chalkboard that you can borrow, put that on the wall like the whip count/tally that was always in Josh's office. Maybe a whiteboard would work too.

Make sure everyone wearing a suit coat does the Martin Sheen flip when donning it. Bonus points if you memorize some trivia about the National Parks, Crusades, Knights Templar, latin phrases, etc.

Oh and don't use any overhead lights, make sure everything is dark and moody and only lit by desk lamps and carefully aimed track lighting.

For music make sure to have some Gilbert and Sullivan, Yo Yo Ma, Chopin (is that what the North Korean pianist was playing?), Little Drummer Boy, some Christmas brass band stuff, um....
posted by Rhomboid at 8:36 PM on September 3, 2010

Dry rub!
posted by slateyness at 8:42 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

And edamame! Our heartland produces a LOT of soybeans!
posted by slateyness at 8:43 PM on September 3, 2010

I immediately thought of turkey, and apples and peanut butter.

Let me know if you have trouble getting NH maple syrup, and I'll send you some.
posted by theredpen at 9:09 PM on September 3, 2010

I haven't watched in a few years, but this is what I come up with off the top of my head:

Guacamole? Made right in front of them! (California Trip, I think.)

Cigars? A chess board? There were a few poker games interrupted with nonstop trivia in the earlier seasons.

A fake lock-down / perimeter breach?

Ah! Someone in a Notre Dame hat?

This might help as well.
posted by Barmecide at 9:23 PM on September 3, 2010

Crab puffs, from that episode with the radio host reception... also, there should be a poker game, maybe?
posted by andrewpendleton at 10:01 PM on September 3, 2010

You could get a pot and have a sugar packet-tossing contest. Probably unnecessarily restrictive, but if there were 17 people at the party, it would be awesome. Strawberries, the only fruit that bear their seeds on the outside. Perhaps some piece of furniture, the bar or something, could be decorated to look like a podium? Definitely Chinese food, gnocchi. I like the idea of a Gilbert and Sullivan sing-along, but then I always like that idea regardless of West Wing partying. A jar of Mrs. Landingham's cookies, for the good people. Goat milk (not from male goats)?
posted by ilana at 11:58 PM on September 3, 2010

In reference to the CIA agent who mistakenly gave C.J. a goldfish instead of...errr....goldfish

Um, it wasn't a CIA agent ...
posted by Megami at 12:13 AM on September 4, 2010

Walk-and-talk is that show's definer. I wonder if there's some arrangement of furniture and layout -- plates at one end, food at another? -- that could encourage that.
posted by bonaldi at 4:45 AM on September 4, 2010

No toasting with water.
posted by eafarris at 4:53 AM on September 4, 2010

DC Metro logo & map - maybe on the invitations if you're that formal or depending on your budget, buy one of these for each of your guests. ($1.95 ea) I think there are free paper versions in Metro stations but that was a few years ago.

Gail-Peters Map - It would be cool if you project it onto a wall or use it for placemats

These brochures should be on display.

Give your guests copies of the DC visitors guide - this is (used to be anyway) available free at 1-800-422-8644. They've sent out multiple copies in the past. Or a DC mefite might be able help you out.

Orioles memorabilia

If you have a fireplace, make sure to post a sign that it is non-functional.

Latin/English dictionaries
posted by jaimystery at 5:13 AM on September 4, 2010

They ate Chinese food all the time. If you don't actually want to have Chinese food at your party, you can buy the takeout containers online or something and use them to serve your food instead.

Pancakes! Obviously it would go with the New Hampshire maple syrup and it's a nice reference to this quote from Bartlet about being commander in chief of the New Hampshire National Guard:

Morris: You guys get into a lot of tough scrapes, did ya?
Bartlet: We didn't have to. We'd just stand on the border and stare you down. Then we'd all go for pancakes.

Maybe require people to do staring contests before they could be served?
posted by Shesthefastest at 6:04 AM on September 4, 2010

Oranges to bowl on the press plane.

Eggs to stand on end during the equinox.
posted by Sfving at 7:04 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Fresca incident with Ainslie immediately came to mind. Black-eyed sussan cookies, preferably in a cat tin. Roast Chicken with a lemon up it. What were they cooking that Amy put Josh's phone into?

Music: You have to get a hold of the cello piece that Yoyo Ma plays, and the Jackal song that CJ sings, and there was also that song when Chloe was kidnapped that really stuck with me. And the song from Pirates of Penzance, and the song that Ainsley sings in the bathrobe. And Monday, Monday by the Mama's and the Papas, which Josh and Donna sang together at some point. And American Pie, which CJ and a judge sang when they got drunk.

You will be playing poker right? And balancing eggs on their end?

A white board with a map of the US on it, with the states coloured in blue or red.

There are many, many options on drinks. Can I come?
posted by kjs4 at 7:35 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Butterball turkey, complete with hotline.
posted by Sfving at 7:56 AM on September 4, 2010

Seconding kjs4. If I remember correctly, the kidnap song was Angel by Massife attack. The Jackal song is apparently by Ronny Jordan.

Also, you should be deep in thought throwing a ball at a wall when guests arrive.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 8:02 AM on September 4, 2010

*Massive Attack, of course, not Massife
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 8:02 AM on September 4, 2010

You guys have come up with some awesome stuff--I haven't marked any of the food as "best" because there's just so darn much of it you all remembered! I'm going to start making a playlist right away. If you think of anything else, please add it on.

theredpen: I haven't given it a good try yet, but I may take you up on that NH maple syrup. I appreciate the offer.

And kjs4, if you want to fly all the way over to Portland, you are more than welcome to attend!
posted by eralclare at 10:49 AM on September 4, 2010

You have to have dry rub. And I love the idea of bowls of goldfish. This sounds like so much fun.
posted by ms.v. at 8:38 PM on September 4, 2010

kjs4: Josh and Amy were cooking chili. eralclare...you could totally make a pot of chili and string up a phone above it as if it were going to fall in, and have a cut off corded telephone receiver beside it.
posted by ms.v. at 8:40 PM on September 4, 2010

The Leo McGarry sandwich platter:
""We've got pastrami from Krupen's, it's tissue paper thin. Roast beef, corned beef, turkey, Russian dressing, cole slaw, and seedless rye, and winning the hard-earned money of your coworkers -- this is what I call a night off."

Also, Toby favours whiskey sours (when the State of the Union is done).

(Alaskan) crab puffs - from that scene in the 'The Midterms' when Bartlett smacks down the bigot shock jock.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:04 PM on September 4, 2010

Make sure you play some Doobie Brothers-- You gotta get happy, Donna.
posted by karminai at 11:20 PM on September 4, 2010

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