So if haven’t been hiding under a rock then almost any newspaper, radio station and TV show is saying that we are in a economic “crisis” (there word not mine) so of course we are cutting back on things in our life which can be a good thing but let us not sacrifice a good time with good food, good friends and good wine!
To plan a beautiful, classic and simple evening:
1. Pick a night – usually on a Friday or Saturday works but sometimes look at a Tuesday or Wednesday to break up the monotonous week.
2. Choose your theme it helps focus everyone on the food or wine to bring. We are going to focus a simple Italian in this blog as our theme.
3. Invite friends – the nice thing about this now is that because of Facebook, MySpace, or texting you don’t have to send out invites (which saves on the invitation and stamp). Also a great simple personal phone call to invite someone is just as nice! Let them know the time (early enough to enjoy a nice evening but enough time for people to get off from work and take care of things at home), the place which is usually the host house (give directions if needed), and tell them to bring a bottle of wine. A good way to get a wide variety of wine is to split your guest list up into three list white, red, and dessert wines. Put each guest under a list and encourage most of all to buy local wine!
4. Plan your menu. Keep it simple and easy so you are not slaving in the kitchen. You will want an appetizer, a salad, a main course and then dessert.
*** a few simple ideas for your menu – for appetizers have a variety of finger foods like black and green olives, Italian meats and cheeses, breads with some dipping sauces (pesto or olive oil) lay all of this out on big wood cutting boards and platters for a rustic feel. Next for the salad a classic Italian Caprese salad is easy and can be plated ahead of time without the dressing, layout some basil leaves enough for a good layer, then layer tomatoes on top of that then nice slices of fresh mozzarella. When it is time to dress just drizzle balsamic vinegar. A main course that is simple and does not take long is chicken piccata and most cookbooks or online sites have great recipes also a great pesto pasta, simple spaghetti, or lasagna is great too! And finally for dessert find a great recipe for tiramisu a fun way to make it elegant is to find one for individual personal ones. ***
5. Now that you have some menu ideas and the wine taken care of on the day before the party you can start getting things ready. Just use your everyday dishes, linen napkins, and silverware and wine glasses. If they don’t match it is okay it is charming. As for decorations candles always create the perfect atmosphere and flowers. Have corkscrews and a ice bucket ready for the white wines, make sure water is always around and a good coffee for the end of the evening.
6. After everyone is gone don’t worry to much about cleaning up!
Food and Wine pairing tips – those sort of snobby rules have gone out the door these days usually people drink what they like with whatever you are eating. Or start the evening with a white whine, move onto the reds then hit the sweeter wines, that way it sort of follows the menu.
You can also make the evening a little educational find out who brought what wine, find out why they bought it, where they bought it, and try some comparing with other wines.
Or to show off to friends show them how to really enjoy and taste wine. Basic tips you want them to smell it first, then a sip of wine but you want them to sort of slurp it through there teeth, then swirl it in there mouth so it hits all of the taste buds, then swallow it, then have them smell again and have them describe it for everyone, because everyone will be different.
Just don’t rush or worry about anything, keep things as simple and elegant as possible and make sure as the host to enjoy the evening.