Subscribe Today

FoodBuzz 24, 24, 24: The Annual Holiday Boat Parade Party

December 19, 2009 by Joan Nova in Desserts, Events, Family-Size Meals, Food Challenge, Holidays, Party Menus | 38 Comments

toastygenericbeach2When we moved to Florida from New York 15 years ago, we quickly learned that cold weather and snow are not really the criteria for the holiday season…and we happily dropped that notion! Goodbye boots, hello flip-flops.

Now, it’s Christmas trees and palm trees, house lights and boat lights, and sandmen instead of a snowmen; but, most importantly, it’s family, friends, good wine…and great menus! It’s a joyous time of year wherever you are.

In celebration of the holiday season, various cities in FL that border the Intracoastal Waterway host boat parades. Led by a fireworks barge, festively-decorated boats make their way up or down the canal and residents line the docks and cheer the parade…and some, like us, use it as an excuse to party!  Who doesn’t love a party?

My sister and brother-in-law (Mary + Nick) live on the canal in Boca Raton and have a good view of the parade route so several years ago they threw a ‘holiday boat parade party’. It was such fun that it became an annual event. We even have friends who fly in from New York year-after-year. They swear they wouldn’t miss it! And, this party is ‘adults’ only. We love our offspring and their little ones but this night we dedicate to socializing with friends.

Mary and Nick’s house is always festively-decorated, as is Mary (more on that later), and the festivities begin with a gabby and long cocktail hour in the ‘Florida Room’. (Florida rooms, for your information, are common in most dwellings here and are usually located at the back end of the house facing the landscape, pool, or some waterway). That’s where we start with drinks and appetizers.


At this party, I’m a guest and kitchen aide. I also contribute to the desserts (store bought and home-made). Mary is the Chef-in-Charge and, this year, she planned a really fun and delicious party menu…a meatball party (5 international varieties and accompanying side dishes).

Greek Meatballs: Lamb with calamata olives, garlic, feta cheese and mint; served with a tsatsiki sauce on the side and a lemony Greek salad.

Italian Meatballs: A blend of beef and veal with the traditional mixture of breadcrumbs, garlic, parmesan and parsley. This was served over sauteed broccoli rabe and cannelini beans, with a marinara side sauce.

Asian Meatballs: Pork mixed with fresh ginger, shallots, water chestnuts, soy sauce, and cilantro served over an Asian-flavored cole slaw with crispy wonton noodles.

Mexican Meatballs: Chicken mixed with black beans, chile powder, cumin and a little cooked rice to bind it. This was served over a corn + black bean salad with a citrus dressing.

Spanish Meatballs: Cod fish (salted + desalted) mixed with boiled potatoes, bread crumbs, parsley and garlic. Served over stewed garbanzo + pepperoni.

This side dish is a family favorite. To clarify how long it’s been around, pepperoni is used to substitute for chorizo which used to be a speciality item and was not so readily available. Mary says the ratio she uses is 3 cans of beans to an 8″ stick of pepperoni (diced small). She cautions that you don’t want the flavor of the pepperoni to overwhelm the garbanzos but, rather, enhance them. The only seasoning is dried oregano. Saute pepperoni, add 3 cans of garbanzo with 1 can of the liquid (reserve the rest in case you need it) and just simmer until it cooks down.

Note: All meatballs were baked with the exception of the Spanish Meatballs which were fried.

Dessert: I love the concept of presenting things in unusual and unexpected ways so I fell in love with these ‘mini cannoli bites’ when Big Red Kitchen posted them on October 2. In fact, we’ve made them twice! I like the look of the pastry cups Robin used better, but this was all I could find. Chocolate chips and orange zest provide the yum factor and we finished ours with cocoa powder. (You can see how ‘mini’ they are in the second photo where they are placed next to chocolate covered cherries.)

Remember I told you that Mary likes to decorate herself as well as the house?  Well, for Easter, she wears a funny bonnet and on Thanksgiving, it’s a plush turkey that looks like her head is up its butt.  For the boat parade party, it was reindeer ears with hanging Christmas balls. I couldn’t resist getting everyone involved for a photo memento.


We ended the evening with Christmas carols and people taking turns on the player piano. If you’re not familiar with a player piano, the panel behind the music book moves, the piano rolls get inserted, the legs get pumping and the keys “miraculously” play the tune.

The Boat Parade Party is just the first of our traditional holiday get-togethers. You’ll be seeing more as we whiz through the season.

Happy Holidays to All from FOODalogue and family!

Special thanks to FoodBuzz, the organization and the team, for inviting FOODalogue to share this holiday tradition with readers. You folks are the best!

Remember, our “South-of-the-Border Culinary Tour starts January 11 (itinerary in sidebar).

[sandman photo courtesy of Sand Castle Central by Sandy Feet]

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


RSS Feed Facebook

  1. Connie says:

    Mary and Nick’s party looks like it was great fun. You guys are the best.

  2. norma says:

    What a great idea…I love what you do and can’t wait for you to teach me in Puerto Rico. Merry Christmas to you and yours…..

  3. Susan & Chris says:

    What drink was it that made us all grow antlers??? FUN FUN night – thank you. Merry Xmas to you both and a Happy New Year !!

  4. Dorothy says:

    As a former, and one of the original boat parade participants, I remember what fun we had. I miss the parties, food, friends and hats.

  5. Looks like a wonderful time, Joan! Isn’t it fun to have holiday traditions like this? I love all the different meatballs! YUMMM

  6. The boat parade on the Intracoastal waterway is such fun. We attended a party at a friend’s house in Palm Beach and she had a big party too. She collected Toys for Tots and a boat came by her dock and collected the toys. It was an event I’ll never forget. Thanks for the great memories.

    Looks like everyone is having fun in Boca with all of that assortment of great food.
    Happy holidays,

  7. Karla says:

    What a fun night with great looking food! Congratulations on a great party!

  8. Peter G says:

    What a wonderful party! I too am familiar with warm weather at Xmas! I especially love the meatball selections Joan. Looks like everyone had a great time. All the best for the holiday season!

  9. Peter says:

    Joan, I’ve never gotten used to Canadian winters…flip-flops during Christmas? I’m ALL IN!

    “24” dinners are always so much fun, congrats and thanks for the nod to Greek food with the “Meat-a-balls”!

  10. RobinSue says:

    Joan I love this meatball buffet idea and every side dish that they were served on were brilliant. Thank you for the link and I am happy you are enjoying the mini cannoli. I have not been in Boca Raton in 30 years. My best girlfriend’s family moved to Boca in the early 80’s so her dad could open a wine and cheese shop. The shop folded as it was probably 15 years ahead of it’s time. Shame. Have a fun Holiday down in the warm part of our country, I’m jealous!

  11. Erica says:

    That looks like a great party,Joan!The food looks fantastic…..I love meatballs.

    Happy holidays to you and your family!

  12. Lidia Lipstick says:

    It was a great party as usual and the meatballs were delish!!! Always a good time at Mary & Nick’s.

  13. What a fun party! Happy holidays, Joan!

  14. What a great 24 dinner idea and a lovely tradition!

  15. Lindzee says:

    Great post! The asian meatballs look fantastic!

  16. Marie says:

    I hate winter, socks and coats. I’m all about flip flops, sandals and capri’s. I envy your warm weather! Joan, have a wonderful holiday with your family. Looks like your off to a good start!

  17. Anita says:

    Great party!! So much food and fun. Good idea to have adults only dinners here and there.

  18. Winnie says:

    This looks like so much fun! Great photos and great job all around…I am very jealous of your Florida weather right now!

  19. Ben says:

    I agree that the important thing about any celebration is being with family and friends (and having great food, of course). That is some amazing food. It looks like you guys had a wonderful time.

    Merry Christmas!

  20. Gail says:

    It looks like a really fun party and the meatballs look delicious!

  21. Those Spanish meatballs really stand out. Love the cod in there. It’s 70+ degrees in Los Angeles, so there’s no proper holiday season here either. Oh well.

  22. Joan, looks like you all know how to have a great time! The meatballs look so great, love that idea! Can’t wait for your culinary tour to begin! Do you have a special badge for this event? Would love to post on my blog ;)

    • Joan says:

      Diane – Happy to have you with us on this tour. I’ll probably use the same badge as last year and will post it soon.

      Thanks to all for your comments.

  23. Maria says:

    That’s a great tradition Joan and you shared it so well with all of us!

    Mary’s menu sounds delectable and a wonderful way to pay tribute to differnet cuisines! Congrats on a great 24,24,24 event!

    Happy Holidays!

  24. sippitysup says:

    This is really quite a spread! It reminds me of my Florida youth and Christmas’ gone by! GREG PS I nominated you at The Kitchn

  25. redkathy says:

    Christmas, Florida FOODalogue style, superb! Wishing you and yours a blessed and very Merry Christmas Joan!

  26. doggybloggy says:

    what a great party and a fantastic “24” – HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

  27. Joan, merry Christmas and happy New Year to you!

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for commenting on the guest post by Jenn/The Leftover Queen. Stop by Outside Oslo again sometime!

  28. Lori Lynn says:

    What a fun party! I love the meatballs! I am making albondigas tonight too.

    Never heard of a Florida Room, I need to mention that to my brother he just bought a home on Plantation Key.

    Merry Christmas Joan!

  29. Arlene says:

    A fabulous menu! What a great theme…meatballs. Looks like the adults had a blast.

  30. What a fun event! I love lamb and feta meatballs, although I don’t get to use the olives because my husband doesn’t like them :)

  31. I don’t know how I have missed so many posts Joan, I guess I need to check my reader. This tradition sounds like a great event to carry on year after year. What a great idea!!

  32. Chantal says:

    Love love love the sandman! : D and of course the food looks delicious!

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

show trackbacks
  1. […] posted about this party in detail for December’s 24, 24, 24 sponsored by […]

  2. […] Right after Thanksgiving on the first Saturday of December my sister and brother-in-law host their annual boat parade party. Friends come from near and far to celebrate ‘with good cheer’, including taking turns […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

CommentLuv badge

Follow Me on Pinterest