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Elevate dining from a mundane affair to a complete feast for the senses with just a little extra effort!
By Ancy George
Dinners could be a romantic rendezvous for two or a gathering of people. But the ambience of the room you eat in, the courteousness of the people serving you, the cleanliness and the plating of the food as well as the music playing softly in the corner, all contribute to making dining an exemplary experience. And the question always remains, how difficult is it to dress up your dinner plans?
Choosing a centrepiece
Firstly pick a theme for the occasion and select your menu accordingly. Decide on the colour combinations and flower arrangements that complement your theme.
Choose a centrepiece that adds to the artistic value of the table by giving it depth and creating a focal point for the dining table, making it a visual spectacle. Candles are a never fail aspect of fine dining. Be it tall, tapering candles or chunky asymmetrical ones, colourful candles can be arranged decoratively in the room or on the table. Candles should be arranged so that the tallest one is in the centre and the smaller ones are placed outward, toward the edges. This arrangement gives your table a sophisticated look.
Flowers make great centrepieces and can be used in numerous ways. You can place flowers in beautiful vases or decorative bottles around the room. Alternately cut the stalks off the flowers and float them in a small bowl or individual glasses of water. Bring in an aura of classy simplicity by placing single stalks of bright coloured flowers in spare drinking glasses. They make a simple yet pretty table decoration. For an eco-friendly look create an inexpensive centrepiece of seasonal fruits in a beautiful ornate fruit bowl. However care needs to be taken that the centrepieces are not so tall that the diner on one end cannot see the diner seated at the opposite side of the table.
Setting the stage
When choosing your cutlery and tableware, choose styles and colours that complement your table cloth and the theme of the evening. Different runners and colourful napkins are a good way to experiment. Fold the napkins creatively, making use of ribbons and napkin rings to secure them elegantly. If you are having a large party, gather the napkins and cutlery into individual sets and secure them with a ribbon. This makes it easier for the guest to pick them up. Jazz up the party by deciding the seating order of the guests; invest some time in making decorative name cards. This will make each person feel special and add an extra zing to the seating arrangements and conversations.
Food and drink
No doubt the star of the evening is beautiful, tantalizing and delectable food. The host always chooses the menu with care. The best food is served with the best drinks. It goes without saying that the food served should be fresh and at the right temperature.
We eat first with our eyes and hence presentation of the food is of utmost importance. A simple way to kick things up a notch is by garnishing. While we slave away in the kitchen for hours together creating good food, a few minutes spent on garnishes can turn good into great. A welcome drink is a must for all parties. If you are serving punch or fruit juices, dress up the glass with a slice of fruit and a cocktail stick. Drop a few pitted berries or cherries in a tall glass and top it up with a clear drink like lemonade, soda, ginger ale or water for an eye-catching experience.
Lemon is a very versatile garnish for food. It can be sliced or diced and placed strategically on the plate to make it look good. Try the ‘Triple Lemon Twist’ garnish for added effect. Slice a lemon into thin rounds. Make a slit from the edge to the centre of each slice. Now twist the lemon along the slit to make a lovely curl.
Herbs and spring onions make a very versatile garnish. Tie a few herbs in a bunch and place it beside a roast chicken. Or chop them up and sprinkle over the dish. A sprig of mint or coriander can brighten things up!
Desserts are the most awaited dish on the menu. Turn simple desserts into exciting treats by serving them on white dessert plates. Pour a stream of chocolate sauce around the plate and sprinkle a few berries around to complete the look. Have you tried serving layered desserts in long stemmed glasses? Are they not a pretty sight to see? Spend some time making some chocolate curls or caramel dipped nuts. They all help spruce up your dessert.
Dining is an art that has to be experienced and experimented with, an art that is not born but acquired. So dress up your table and pretty up your food; get ready for a cosy cuddle or an appreciative gathering. And rake in the praises.
This recipe for a fruity summer dessert makes use of simple ingredients, but the effect is outstanding. Try it out!
6 large oranges
1 litre vanilla ice cream slightly softened
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate, chilled
Zest of half an orange
Orange food colour, a pinch
Mint leaves and chocolate shavings, for garnishing
Cut the top 1/3 part of each orange. Using a knife remove as much flesh from the orange without tearing the skin. Reserve the flesh to make orange juice at some other time.
Place the softened ice cream and all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well till combined. If the ice cream starts to soften too much, return to the freezer for 10 minutes and them mix again till combined.
Place the orange shells on a baking tray. Spoon in the ice cream into the shells till it is almost full. The ice cream will expand on filling. Freeze for two hours.
Remove the bombs from the freezer and wrap them in plastic wrap. Return to the freezer.
Take the bombs out of the fridge 10 minutes before serving so that they soften slightly.
Garnish with a mint leaf and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings.
For an adult version add a dash of orange flavoured alcohol and jazz up the bomb.
*Photo Credits: (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Oranges: Kristen Bonardi Rapp
Candles & Roses Centrepiece: brianandjaclyn
Place Settings: Dinner Series
Refreshing Drinks: NicoleAbalde
Dessert Decor: Rex Roof
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