If you’re anything like me there is very little reason needed for a dinner party. In this case, just a small glimpse of spring was enough to break out the crystal and napkins for a Parisian-themed dinner party with friends. Never mind that it ended up snowing the day of… it’s nothing that a bottle of Bordeaux and apple galette can’t solve.
So how do we turn a snowy Toronto condo into a french themed spring affair? By first setting the stage with a simple spring themed backdrop.
I’m a sucker for fabric napkins – they are a great tool for serving double duty as accent decor due to the colour and print and they help to set the tone for a slightly more refined fête. Coupled with a table covering of baby breath and tea light candles nestled amongst the flowers we had a laid back and elegant table ready to go in no time.
With the backdrop set, it’s time to get down to business. That means first things first – cocktails! We settled on a simple, classic french drink called Champagne Royale. It is 1 oz of blackcurrant liquor with 4 oz of champagne. Served in a champagne flute it’s a simple and light cocktail to welcome guests as they arrive. To compliment the Champagne Royale we had a cheese platter laid out and ready to greet guests. Between brie cheese, blue cheese and baguette we had our pre-dinner snacking bases covered.
One of my biggest learnings over the years has been to create a menu that allows you to complete any prep earlier in the day rather than right as food is being plated and everyone is socialising. After all, the point of a dinner party is to socialise, so who wants to be frantically running around the kitchen and miss out on all of the fun? To check this off this list we settled on a Julia Child classic, Beef Bourgignon. It’s so simple to make earlier in the day and leave in the oven to simmer. Come time to serve it has wonderful rich flavour thanks to the wine broth that the beef has simmered in all day.
To balance out the rich flavours of Beef Bourguignon we offered a side of steamed green beans with toasted almonds and slow roasted rosemary potatoes. Both side dishes can be served quickly and easily from stove to table. Of course, we added copious amounts of crusty french baguette and homemade garlic butter to the menu as a french staple.
Finally, for dessert , we opted for a homemade apple galette with vanilla gelato. My favourite things about apple galette is that it can be easily prepared ahead of time and popped into the oven just as dinner is being served. Served hot and steaming from the oven with vanilla gelato it’s hard to think of a better comfort food to round out the meal.
And that’s it for the “dinner” portion of the party. Of course, the main goal of any get together is to socialise, so I recommend having some games in mind for after dinner once everyone is well fed.
I hope that gets you off to a good start with your next dinner party! Let me know your favourite dinner party tips in the comment section below.