Today we’re sharing our latest edition of Retro Foodie: a Halt and Catch Fire viewing party. It’s no secret that this new AMC series is our favorite television experience of the summer. We’ve chronicled our top reasons to watch, and now we celebrate the show’s ’70s-meets-’80s aesthetic by reveling in the early days of the PC revolution while munching on our favorite snacks. Classic junk food gets a culinary upgrade in this party concept. Read on for all the details…
In Halt and Catch Fire, there’s a constant juxtaposition between the past and the future–the old way of doing things vs. the new technology that will forever change the world. The analog vs. the digital. The decor of the late ’70s vs. the sleek ’80s design that is beginning to appear in spaces such as the corporate office of Cardiff Electric. Below we’ll show you how to use decor and food to channel this interplay between old school style and upscale chic.
The Look, the Food and the Fun
To bring this party to life, set up two different serving areas where guests can help themselves. One will channel ’80s style that’s a bit stuck in the ’70s, while the other will have a slick ’80s modern look. Old meets new, right?
Above we see one major source of inspiration for our viewing party concept: a paneled wall in the dining room of Cardiff Electric engineer Gordon Clark. Colorful geometric artwork pops against the golden tone of the “wood” paneling. This screen shot was taken from AMC’s Re-Making the ’80s: Halt and Catch Fire, a video that explores the set design, fashion and overall look of the show. Remember when we featured the video in this previous post?
To get the look, display an assortment of snacks on a wooden surface, such as a tabletop. The food of choice: what programmers would nosh on during late night hours. Chips, a nut mix, plus a little something healthy–because you need a dash of fruit or veggies to break up all of the sweet and salty edibles you’ll be offering guests throughout the night!
A few decor ideas:
- Display a series of retro computer parts along the center of the table. Yes, now is the time to dust off that old PC in the garage. Circuit boards are welcome, folks!
- Cubes and grids are your friend. The brass gridded cubes shown above and below are from CB2 (as are the snack bowls).
- Offer guests colorful napkins with an ’80s feel. The napkins above were designed by Joy Cho as part of her summer collection for Target. We love their vibrancy.
Drink options for the party: beer, soda, coffee and iced tea. What would Cameron Howe drink? We know she has a thing for orange soda, and you can’t go wrong with a classic like Coca-Cola. Coffee–because when you’re up all night writing code, you need a little fuel. Iced tea–because the show is set in Dallas, and when you’re living through a Texas summer, you do it with a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge at all times. And the alcohol, because it’s a party, folks! Don’t hesitate to open a bottle of wine. It will nicely complement some of the food that follows.
The main course: pizza. Prep it ahead of time, as shown below. Then all you have to do is throw it in the oven when the guests arrive. We topped our pizza with green olives and sauteed onions (added later). Mushrooms make another great addition. We served our pizza on the wooden tabletop near the bowls of snacks.
We now transition from the golden tones and classic junk food to a more upscale look…
Our inspiration for the second “vibe” of the night: the crisp metallic touches and slick hues that appear in the office of Cardiff Electric. Not to mention, the ’80s modern apartment of Joe MacMillan (played by Lee Pace).
A few decor ideas:
- Visit a home improvement or flooring store and pick up a few marble tiles. Prop them against the wall to serve as a backdrop for your party food. They will add an instant touch of ’80s corporate style.
- Arrange flowers in a metallic vase for a shiny centerpiece. The vase that held our branches and roses is from Z Gallerie.
- Use mirrors to your advantage. We incorporated a mirrored tile from IKEA into our food display area (shown later in the post). Reflective surfaces = instant ’80s corporate style!
- Display your less “snacky” and more “foodie” items in this ’80s modern area. And since we’re on the topic of food…
More foodie fun: Celebrate the emerging yuppie culture of the ’80s by referencing a few culinary trends of that era. We served our pizza with a salad of mixed greens, toasted almonds, goat cheese, raspberry vinaigrette and raspberry pesto (made from pureed frozen raspberries and chopped mint). Pesto and raspberry vinaigrette were true ’80s foodie trends!
Why give this party a foodie twist? Because when the key players at Cardiff Electric are wining and dining potential partners and investors, they don’t order pizza. ’80s corporate life had its perks! For dessert, serve brownies or brownie bites, and drizzle them with caramel sauce, then top them off with whipped cream and mint sprigs. Make it easy! Our brownie bites were purchased from Central Market, a favorite Texas foodie grocery store.
Don’t forget to offer guests coffee with dessert! As an added bonus, head to Goodwill or another thrift shop before the party and stock up on retro mugs. The mug below features a pattern called Teal Rainbow by Corning:
Snapshots and Final Thoughts
Here are a few more shots from the festivities…
Most of all, remember to have fun! Don’t over-analyze the food or decor. You’re creating a vibe. Guests shouldn’t be fact checking to make sure all edibles, decorations and dishware were popular around the year 1983 (or if your retro computer on display is a PC–ahem). And if they do, ask them to share their detailed knowledge of ’80s design, technology and cuisine with the other guests!
Enjoy this summer of Halt and Catch Fire! The only thing better than watching great television is enjoying the show with a stylish buffet filled with great food. Gather your closest friends and make your Sunday night one to remember!