A few months ago, you might remember this post, where over a particularly yummy dinner with friends and after one too many alcoholic beverages, we decided to set ourselves our very own Come Dine with Me challenge and last week was our turn to kick things off. Brilliant. Hosting a dinner party for friends is stressful enough, without the added pressure of trying to impress them for points.
Two weeks of planning, (more like procrastinating around the menu plan), five supermarket trips, (why is it when you're hosting a dinner or a party you can never a) find everything you need in one store and b) remember everything you need in one store...?), plus a 'click and collect'- which is super handy- (aside from when they give you a tub of potato salad instead of celery and a bunch of limes in replace of lime cordial...seriously?!) Plus 48 hours spent tending to a marinated beef joint whilst the Hubster gave a measly tub of lemon sorbet more attention than I get in a week and we were finally ready for our guests...that's if we didn't fall asleep before they arrived. This entertaining lark is exhausting...!
We opted for a totally gluten free meal for everyone for ease (I'm not silly). We had a selection of nibbles to start such as chorizo, olives, vegetables and dips (only slightly cheating here...all my energy had gone into the main course) which was Neapolitan Beef served with roast potatoes and green vegetables. Thankfully I re-read the recipe the night before the dinner as I'd skipped the part when it said to 'marinade the beef for 12 hours'. I've never marinated anything in my life. My usual roast dinner meat is lucky if gets that 15 minutes rest after it's cooked before its hastily sliced up and put onto our plates, let alone marinated.
|Pockets of pancetta and garlic...I have no idea if this is what they mean by "pockets"...!|
After a whole evening preparing the beef, twelve hours marinating it and then an early wake up call to actually get it all spruced up with pancetta and garlic for a nine hour stint in the slow cooker, it finally came to the taste test. Everyone else really enjoyed it- aside from the Hubster and myself. I'm not sure if it's down to the fact that I'd spent the last 48 hours tending to it like it was a sick puppy, that by the time dinner came around- I wasn't even hungry. But our guests enjoyed it, which is the most important thing and every plate was cleared. Phew. Dessert was probably the highlight for us which was homemade lemon sorbet made entirely from scratch by the Hubster, which although the portion was on the small side, it went down a treat with our guests.
|It's not the quantity...but the quality that counts!|
The Table Decor
I kept it simple, with an autumnal theme using orange roses as a centerpiece, surrounded by gold leaves and candles. Each guest had a personalised Thorntons chocolate bar on their place setting which worked as a seating plan as well as a little favour to take home.
The Entertainment- aka...zilch.
If there's one area we definitely lost out to points on it would be the entertainment. In the midst of one very hectic week leading up to our dinner, we totally missed out the part where you were meant to entertain your guests. Sadly we had no board games to hand and I was too capished to even manage a game of 'I Spy' at this short notice, so by 11pm the men were engrossed in a (super snooze-fest of a) conversation about football, whilst us girlies were snuggled on the sofa, hugging cups of tea and catching up. We're hardcore, I know.
So whilst I don't think we'll be in the running for the most entertaining dinner, I'm hoping we'll score a few points in the effort department. Even though I found the whole 'ordeal' exhausting, I did learn a few lessons when it comes to hosting a dinner party- a) stick to a dish you know you're comfortable with cooking up. There's nothing worse than the added pressure of making something new and not knowing what on earth it's going to taste like in the end and b) a little entertainment goes a long way. Whether this be 'pass the parcel' or 'beat the intro'- a few ice breaking games can make the world of difference when bringing a group of friends together over the dinner table, steering the conversation away from football and snuggled girly catch ups on the sofa. There's always next time...*silently prays that next time wont be for a while*
If you'd like to see more of our Come Dine with Friends preparation then check out this vlog...apologies that I didn't capture the dinner itself, I was a little too preoccupied to film...!
Having trouble watching the video...view it here!
Have you hosted any dinner parties lately? Is there anything you would do again or avoid next time? Let me know in the comments below...!
Until next time,
With Love & Dinner Party Dilemmas,