Throwing a dinner party for friends is truly a rewarding experience. Not only will you have the chance to spend some quality time in an intimate setting with people you like but also indulge your creativity in making a gourmet dinner, a fabulous fête!
When the idea for Art de Fête was still at its early stages, my husband and I have hosted this dinner party for our close friends back in April of 2013. I wanted to create a visually beautiful presentation of each course and capture the ambiance at the table. There was an abundance of fava beans, figs and all the good things spring has to offer.
The beauty of this menu in its simplicity, without sacrificing the quality of the ingredients! From this dinner, the blog Art de Fête was born!
As one of the hors d’oeuvre, I served Laura Santtini’s Goat Cheese rubbed with Dried Rose Petals, Silver Flakes & Exotic Spices. Accompanied by the best French baguette in town, from Chef Daniel Boulud’s Epicerie, this starter was perfection. The creaminess of the goat cheese and the robust blend of spices created a complex deep flavor that delighted everyone’s taste buds.
The ripe figs cut in an “X” almost all the way through with a generous filling of creamy Blue Cheese, topped with some crunchy chopped walnuts and drizzled with the light Acacia Honey, make an irresistible hors d’oeuvre. If desired, top the figs with basil chiffonade for an additional flavor bouquet. The key to delicious success—ripe, bursting with sweetness figs. I can sing serenades to the delectable sweet taste of ripened figs filled with cheese and finished with honey.
Insalata di Polpo, or simply the Octopus Salad, is a great way to start any dinner party. The meat is cooked to tender perfection and paired with boiled purple baby new potatoes, and velvety white Cannellini beans. A mix of peppery arugula and just a touch of thinly sliced bitter radicchio complements this salad and adds a refreshing pop-of-color to the plate! A simple dressing of good quality extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of flat-leaf Italian parsley makes this salad one of our friends’ favorite.
Branzino, or Mediterranean Sea Bass, is a wonderful moist flaky white fish. In this dish, the combination of crunchy simply blanched vegetables goes really well with sweet fillets of Branzino. When serving for a big crowd, simply layer one big dish with asparagus spears in a cross thatch pattern, scatter some fava beans in between the spears and some sweet snow peas cut in half length-ways along the rim of the platter. Scatter some quickly sautéed mushrooms, thinly sliced radishes and purple potatoes. Top the vegetables with the fillets and serve along with mint-basil pesto on top.
For dessert I made a decadent to-the-last-bite Mascarpone Filled Cake. A Sherry-soaked medley of mixed berries plays off the lightness of this golden buttermilk cake. Your guests will have a just-one-more- piece moments guaranteed.