I love dinner parties. You socialise with friends, eat amazing food, drink loads and confirm that you are indeed an adult!
Dinner party season lasts all winter long, so but this past weekend I learned that there is an art to hosting a great dinner party.
We arrived at 7PM with prosecco in tow. The host did not serve any fussy canapés, but simply prepared a few cocktails and played some bohemian jazz while we all exchanged the stories of the day. As we sat down to dinner and opened a bottle of wine, our Belgian host introduced us to raclette and encouraged us to tuck in. Although we were all excited by the slices of cheese, cured meats, potatoes and grill that decorated the table, we had no idea where to begin. To qualify our confusion, you must understand that the word raclette is confusing on its own. It is the name of a cheese, a Swiss dish and even the type of grill in which the dish is prepared. Little did I know that by the end of the night I will have eaten, prepared and used a raclette.
Our host soon realised that our refusal to begin dining was not out of politeness, but ignorance. So he began dressing his plate and explaining how we were to transition the food from table top to tummy.
INGREDIENTS: I watched as he picked all his ingredients – potatoes, slices of cheese, cured meats, some asparagus and a gherkin. I did the same.
GRILL: The grill has two levels. The upper level, is a hot plate to grill steamed vegetables. The lower level, holds a collection of mini-pans into which the cheese is placed and heated. I studied the contraption.
PREPARATION: Place a slice of cheese in your mini-pan and insert into grill (lower level). The grill is hot, so the cheese will begin to bubble within minutes. While you wait, cut your potato in half and top with vegetables or meat. Finally, remove the mini-pan and pour over the potato, vegetables and meat. I repeated several times.
By around midnight, we exchanged thank you’s and headed home. What a great night! The food was delicious and evening was amazing for a variety of reasons. First, our hosts are really cool people and have a kick-ass flat in Maide Vale. Second, have a fun theme. In this case, the raclette was the theme. Not only is it typical winter, French fare, but we played with our food as we chatted and grilled our way through the evening. Third, it’s important that guests feel at ease in your home. So since our hosts were chilled out and the menu was low-stress and low-prep, the evening turned out to be relaxed and fun for all.