No Elldrew are not writing about the joys of eating at home on a regular basis…actually on that subject, do you all find that you never sit at the dining table unless you have guests around? We do…it’s sofa eating most nights for us, but when it comes to dinner parties (and that is the topic of this blog), when you’re the host, it’s not really just about the meal is it?
Planning starts weeks in advance; there’s recipes to choose, allergies to consider, you need to think about the table dressing, look at timings to make sure you spend as much time with your guests as possible (learnt that one from ‘Come Dine With Us’ – its all about the least time in the kitchen) and then on the day you’re up at the crack of dawn ready for the busy day ahead.
We recently had some friends over for a summer dinner party (it was definitely the first since our spring bake-a-thon) so we were a little rusty as we were up at 7am, coffee in hand looking at the long to-do list. Groceries ordered (well just awaiting delivery actually) elements of the meal were starting to be prepared whilst a piece of toast strategically hang from ones mouth. A quick dash to the hardware store was required as we had pinched a table idea from our friend Down Under, Donna Hay – well we want her to be our friend, we really really do – so we had to purchase a plank of wood and a pot of paint. Heading back to the house we had just enough time to pop into a local greengrocer to get some final vegetable items and purchase the necessary flowers for the table setting. Back to the kitchen to finish prepping the food, then it was time to wash ourselves and spot clean the house before the night began. It makes it all sound like a lot of hard work but dinner parties are actually rather fun and Elldrew are at their finest when hosting friends in our humble abode.
For the sake of this blog let’s call the evening our “Summer Planking” dinner party – based on the weather and that pesky piece of wood that we purchased, and painted, and waited to dry just in time to set the table! Keen to try some new menus (and some favourites) we welcomed our guests with a cooling pink vodka lemonade before settling them down at the table where we’d created a central raised “catwalk” that would play a part in the serving of the meal.
First up was a courgette, mint and pecorino salad, which was just divine. We served the salad with Marcus Wareing’s savoury muffins, adapting the recipe from olive and feta into a red pepper and chilli muffin. A perfect combination to kick off the meal (some heat to match the heat, perfectly balanced with a light and tangy salad). Main course was again our friend Donna Hay’s slow-cooked lamb with pistachio honey dressing accompanied with couscous and almond beans – you can’t go wrong with a 3.5 hour slow cooked leg of lamb! Dessert was an Elldrew proprietary recipe, deconstructed pavlova with passion fruit and raspberry coulis, fresh fruit and lemon infused cream. We served dessert with a homemade black sesame macaron to add a monochromatic flavour punch.
A fun evening with good company really makes the effort worth it…and a few too many bottles of delicious wine does make the clearing up process a breeze. Recipes requested and passed on, ultimately the sign the food was up to scratch. Now with the smell of autumn in the air it’s time to start planning the next one. Happy dining readers!