The French Dinner Party

Hi there!  I thought I’d sneak in one more post before we say adieu to 2017. I don’t know about you but I’m ready to welcome 2018; fresh starts, new beginnings, and new challenges. I have some really great things on my plate at the moment and I plan on hitting the ground running.  More on some of those in the coming months, but for now, lets talk about the final dinner party of 2017.

Last we spoke, I shared with you how I develop, organise, and execute my dinner parties so I won’t recap any of that.  Instead, I’ll just dive right in.

I was REALLY excited about this menu.  A fair bit of time was spent developing it and testing a few of the items.  I wanted to make sure that it was well balanced and that each dish was well composed.  I also spent quite a bit of time thinking about how each dish was going to be plated and what it would all look like.  I really wanted to up my plating game.  Spoiler alert: at the end of the night, I was so pleased with how it all went.  What a great night!Cooking

There was six of us there and it kicked off around 6:30pm.  I like to have some food ready when people are arriving so I usually try to have a platter out for everyone to nibble on.  For this party I prepared a baked brie, onion and garlic jam, and chicken liver parfait.  I was just bringing the brie out of the oven at 6:30.  I think I turned my back for five minutes and it was completely gone.  Okay, maybe not quite that quickly but it was really enjoyed.  And look how pretty it was!

Baked Brie

Baked Brie MeltedOnion and Garlic JamI spent a bit of time enjoying a hello and catch up with everyone as we nibbled and sipped on first glasses of wine.  As we had five courses after the baked brie, I wanted to shoot for 7:00 to start so I started to focus on that a bit more around 6:45.  We were kicking off with ham, spinach and mushroom crepes with hollandaise sauce.  The first course was mostly prepared in advance so I just threw it in the oven to reheat and continued chatting while I prepared the sauce.  Crepes, while seemingly very delicate, are something that can be prepared ahead and then reheated before serving so it was a great choice here.  Originally I was going to make beggar’s purses with them but in the end folded them into parcels.  I was quite pleased with them.  Besides…. hollandaise?? Really the crepes were just a delivery device for the hollandaise in my humble opinion…..Crepes Uncut

Crepes CutOn to course three!  I served a red oak lettuce salad with poached asparagus, roasted beetroot, chèvre and a fresh tarragon vinaigrette.  Salads can be nice to break up a meal and offer something refreshing and palate cleansing.  To be honest, I’m still working on my salad game. They are somewhat of an afterthought for me and thus I don’t have much to say about it here.  I think if you were to ask everyone who was at the party what the courses were this one would have been the least memorable.  So I guess this will be a new challenge for me.Salad

Course four was the first of the two main courses and this was the one I was most looking forward to.  It is ironic too, because this was the chicken course, and while I eat chicken, I’m never particularly excited about it.  This was one of those dishes that just came together really easily for me in my head.  I had a clear vision of what I wanted it to be and I wanted to see if I could execute it like planned.  The dish was roasted chicken, broccoli puree, mushroom confit, white wine shallot pan sauce and crispy chicken skin.  Not a ton of ingredients and nothing really out of the ordinary but if I was able to put it together well the dish should be a hit.  Wow was it a hit!  I was really thrilled with it.  Pleased with the plating.  Pleased with the tastes and textures and my guests really enjoyed it too.Chicken

Chicken Close UpCourse five, to me, was the biggest letdown of the night.  I should say it still tasted really good but it was executed the least like my original concept.  Roasted beef, potato dauphinoise, crispy brussel sprouts, red wine sauce.  It should have been more impressive.Beef

Beef Close UpAround 10:00 it was finally time for dessert!  I didn’t want to do anything that was too heavy at the end of our night.  We were pretty satisfied at that point; filled with food and wine.  My biggest worry was tipping everyone from satisfied to uncomfortably stuffed.  I opted for a deconstructed peach melba for dessert. Raspberry sauce, thyme and olive oil roasted peach halves, vanilla gelato, and cookie crumble.  It was a good choice.  Light and not too filling.PeachesInTheOven

Peach MelbaI was really thrilled with this party.  There were a couple minor adjustments that I had made but the results were huge.  First, I committed to only using the kitchen bench space for prep and plating and not the kitchen island where we all sit.  I thought at first that this would be a really unreasonable expectation due to the limited bench space but it really worked and made the island truly a table and dining space.  Secondly, I committed to reasonable portions.  My goal was to have everyone satisfied but not so utterly stuffed that they couldn’t move.  I forced myself to under buy what I normally would so that I couldn’t over plate.  Best decision.  We walked away from the meal still thinking about it versus being overwhelmed by how full we were.

Six is the magic number.  While I can execute a meal with more courses, I’m still working on refining the food to be a small enough portions for a nine or twelve course meal.  I’m just not there yet.

The next party is coming up in March and I admit it, I’m already planning the menu.  It will change twenty times between now and then but I’m looking for it to have an Aussie feel to it.  I’m not exactly sure what that will end up looking like, but I’ll certainly keep you posted!!

**as always – thank you to my friends who make the night happen not only with the help cleaning, the extra seating, and the photography but also for coming and enjoying.  You fill my home with laughter and joy and that makes my soul happy.

And so that does it!!  Closing out another year here at Living the Savory Life.  I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with love, laughter and happiness.  I’ll catch you all on the flip side.  I cannot wait.

xo ~ Lauren


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