Owns 'FoodLit'. Highly qualified, established food & lifestyle writer, former restaurateur, founder professional writing business, Articul8. Long, diverse writing history, passion for food culture, the land & inspired food language.www.foodlit.com.au
Published June 24th 2009
When's the last time you went to - or had your very own - dinner party? For most people it's been a long time. Why? Good, reasonably-priced restaurants are multiplying faster than rabbits. Not only that, you do all the hard work, your friends lap up your hospitality, food and wine - and you end up with the dishes! Why bother?
There is an easier way to enjoy good food and friends in the privacy and comfort of your own home. The dinner party's back, 21st Century-style. It's BYO - food 'n' all.
Everyone brings a different course or contributes in some other way. I mean, if you have ten people and they each bring a course, that's a bit of an overkill. Here's how to go about it:
1) Decide on a comfortable number of people. I'd suggest 5 or 6 tops, making sure you have a suitable dining area, enough chairs, crockery, cutlery and glassware.
2) Find out if any guests have food allergies, special dietary requirements or an aversion to any particular foods. I eat everything except goats' cheese and pine nuts. Why? Who knows, but your friends probably have a few pet hates too.
2) Ask only the best cooks to bring a course - and the rest to bring drinks or help with the clean-up.
Simple food and wine matching isn't that hard if you want to go that far.
3) Courses should be co-ordinated for overall balance. You don't want a mish-mash of dishes that just don't go together. I mean, you wouldn't follow a main course of Pasta ai Quattri Formaggi (four-cheese pasta) with a cheesecake. Too cheesy! You get the idea. Don't be daunted by the fancy-sounding pasta sauce - it's too easy!
4) The easiest option is to pick a theme, like Italian, vegetarian, Chinese, or whatever, and plan a menu that works with your friends. Click here for some theme ideas, along with a whole host of dinner party tips.
5) Apply the KIS Principle. Keep It Simple! Courses should also be selected according to ease of preparation and serving. Foods that are easily warmed up are best. Forget the soufflé!
6) Food is only one aspect of a good dinner party. Think about the timing for each course, lighting, music and little extra touches that make an evening with good friends and good food a memorable one.
7) If you've been silly enough to offer to supply a course after offering your home and doing all the planning, buy it! You can always pass it off as your own.