True hospitality is a bloody art and the perfect dinner party, much like a masterpiece, is subtle in its nuances. It’s more than just delicious food, great company and, if you’re at my place, too much wine. Really, I wanted to call this piece ‘how to host a winner dinner party’ but still haven’t quite figured out the food part (it’s a tad hard when you live in a 100 square foot apartment in Bondi). I’ve got the drinks and chat down pat, though.
So, this is obviously not an affair worthy of a 2 Michelin star restaurant, no absolutely not. It’s more the rustic food with backyard boozy vibes, maybe throw some weird games in there too.
Set the mood
The snobbery, etiquette and pomp that once existed among dinner parties of the 90s have been swiped left so hard they’re basically out in the Indian Ocean. That’s not to say you can’t entertain wall-to-wall thematics or scouring antique stores for 1920s candelabras if you’re feeling fancy, but today, dining in your own home is all about comfort and an inviting tone.
No matter whether you’re sitting on the ground, the grass or resting back in an Eames, try to create lighting that’s warm and suited to the environment. Music should complement conversation, not compete with it. It doesn’t hurt to have some starters or snacks sitting around on arrival in case you’re darting in and out of the kitchen.
Cheersing a drink and chatting away while the duck slowly confits in the kitchen is the absolute goal post at dinner parties. But in reality, cooking time rarely allows for a casual tete-a-tete.
Prep the hard stuff (meat dishes, stews, cold set desserts) pre guest arrival and get a schedule together for the rest. Being realistic about how much food you can get on the table will also let you step away from the stove and into the atmosphere of the party.
When we talk themes at dinner parties we don’t necessarily mean Saturday Night Fever or Back to the Future (though put us down for that), but more so being consistent with a theme of food.
You probably aren’t going to serve a Tiramisu after having Ramen, unless you’re Karen from next door that thinks it’s ‘quirky’. Um no. Please carry your theme from starter to dessert, your palate will thank you for it. Drinks are also a great way to show your guests you’ve put in some extra elbow grease when it comes to theme – assuming you still have the cash for it after buying duck.
Food and drink pairing
We don’t necessarily expect an end to end experience when it comes to our friends dinner parties, but when it happens it’s a type of surprise and delight unrivalled by many. Matching your drinks to your food will take your dinner party from amateur to ambitious in the best way possible.
The sweet stuff is the clincher to the night, it is one of the last things your guests will remember unless you plan to go all Nigella with a take home gift. Needless to say, by the time it comes to dessert you’ve usually done your dash and guests are ready to ease into the night. It’s a good idea to stick with a simple variety of things like a cheese board or dark chocolate for grazing – because baking is a fucking science people!. Top it off with a dessert wine or even a chocolate stout to raise the eyebrows.
So, there you go, a passable dinner party. Thank us later with an invite to your next one.
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