I’ve decided to start a new Dinner Party series of posts, so that I can remember what dishes I put together each time I host a dinner party, what I plan to try instead the next time, and any useful little tricks (or disasters) that developed on the day. Throwing a dinner party is one of my all time favourite things to do, and a substantial portion of that enjoyment is the Planning of the Menu. I can spend hours pouring over recipe books, Pinterest and blog posts, trying to imagine tastes and textures together, and how to present the food in fun new ways. So it seems like a good idea to record what I did out for future reference. This is the first installment of the posts (albeit a little outdated)…
The Scene: The Bookclub girls, at my place, with electricity load shedding announced 2 hours before dinner (thanks Eskom). Eight of us in total, with healthy appetites, no food-allergies (at this time) and an appreciation for good food & wine. Nobody here pushes lettuce leaves around their plates guiltily and declares themselves full.
The Starter: I have zero self control with chips and I’m tired of eating so many before a meal that I feel sick and fake-smile through the undoubtedly delicious main attraction. So I decided to do sweet potato rostis as the starter/canape, as they are (a) substantial enough to balance a carb-free main course, and (b) although they take a little time to prep, they can be made ahead of time and are served at room temperature, which is an admin win when you’re serving 8 people, potentially without electricity. Topped with creme fraiche, avo and sweet chilli, it’s difficult to go wrong here.
The Main: This seemed like a great opportunity to try Hoisin-Glazed Pork Belly as I know all the guests eat pork, and I’d been dying to cook a pork belly roast. I roasted the pork to about half way (maybe 1.5 hours?) the night before, so I wouldn’t be rushed when I got home from work. Good call. The sauce was tangy and sweet and went perfectly with the crisp freshness of the raw julienned salad. The crackling didn’t puff up quite as much as I’d hoped, so I think I’m going to separate it from the pork the next time, and grill it alone. But it was sublime – major points here. The downside: pork belly doesn’t photograph very well.
The Dessert: I fell back on a tried and tested favourite – Shiraz Truffles. Unlike relationship relapses, dessert repeats are typically consistently rewarding. These truffles are made with wine rather than large volumes of cream, so you could say they are both healthy and alcoholic. Which almost deserves a slow clap. Garnishing the platter (rinsed and re-used after the rostis) with raspberries and basil was perfect – the basil lent a heady fragrance, and the raspberries were a fresh alternative between truffles. YUM.
The Verdict: Possibly one of the most successful dinner parties I’ve ever had. Everything was ready on time, I didn’t spend hours in the kitchen while my guests had fun chatting in the lounge, and while the meal was quite rich, it wasn’t heavy. I think the key is to do 2 of the 3 courses that can be made ahead of time, particularly when you are feeding 8+ people. Total. Win.