As the cooler weather arrives, Sheila and I always look forward to bringing our entertaining back indoors with heartier menus and warmer décor ideas for our dinner parties. Finding innovative ways to present our fall dishes is one of our favourite things to do, and as with all our entertaining ideas, the little touches we add to our table make all the difference.
For this issue of The Invidiata Magazine, we are showing three of our most popular ideas for fall entertaining along with one of our most helpful tools for planning our parties. We hope you and your guests love these as much as we do!
THE MUSHROOM PLACECARD
Placecards are a great way to add a touch of elegance to your dinner party and to also arrange your guests to ensure the conversation flows easily. Placing your guests at a table is an art and can certainly make or break any dinner party. Consider similarities and differences in personalities, but it’s not necessarily about seating similar people together; mix it up with outgoing and perhaps quieter people next to each other to balance the conversation. Our dinner table has always been about people making new friends and yours should be too!
THE PRE-DINNER CHARCUTERIE PLATTER
For me, a charcuterie platter is a staple for entertaining. It serves as the perfect grazing dish for guests as they mingle before a seated fall or winter dinner. There is really no wrong way to put together a charcuterie platter since you can add almost anything, provided the ingredients can sit out at room temperature. There are, however, a few tips I recommend you follow.
Firstly, when laying out your ingredients make sure to build up different heights rather than laying everything flat. This can be done by using cheeses of different shapes, pleating over your cured meats for texture, building small bundles of grapes still on the stem, or even by adding mini bowls for your condiments.
Secondly, consider varying guest preferences and try to accommodate as many people as possible. Not everyone loves soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert, so consider also having perhaps a white cheddar or a crumbled Parmesan too. For your meats, a spicy Genoa is my favourite, but for those who may have a less adventurous palette, a simple prosciutto is the perfect choice.
Thirdly, have some fun and add something unexpected! My go-to is honey served right off the honeycomb since most people likely won’t have seen this before, but nowadays you can buy it at most high-end grocery stores.
THE MAIN COURSE PRESENTATION
The famous saying goes that “people eat with their eyes” and nobody believes that more than us. How you present a dish can make a huge difference in how your guests will enjoy it. Trust us, we know. An example of this is using unexpected vessels for traditional courses. Here we showcase a main course of thinly sliced tenderloin over roast parsnip purée in a mushroom rosemary jus served in a stemless wine glass. We guarantee gasps as you bring a tray of these to the table for the main course!
THE ULTIMATE PLANNING TOOL
When it comes to entertaining, one of the most common questions we get from people is “How much do I need?” Whether it’s wine, ice, canapés or even cheese…figuring out how to have enough (and not too much) when you’re entertaining takes years of experience…until now. We developed a simple spin-wheel to help new hosts calculate exactly how much they need of everything! No more stressing about running out of ice…or wine!
THE DINNER SERIES
Also be sure to check out Sebastien & Sheila’s customized dinner playlists at mixcloud.com/sebandsheila