The onset of November confirms the party season in Dubai is in full swing. And with most of our diaries fit to bursting with events and parties, regardless if you are hosting, or attending, you have to play the part really well. But if you have doubts on how to be the perfect party host or guest, worry not because internationally-trained sommelier, Lindsay Trivers, who is also the founder of The Tasting Class in Dubai is on hand to offer a few insider tips on eating and drinking your way through a fantastic festive season.
I’m sure you are probably asking yourself why it matters to be a perfect party host or guest. After all, you can hold your glass of white without spilling a drop, and you can easily keep the bubbly crispy chilled for your guests! What you don’t know is that holding that stem is not enough, as lovely Lindsey tells me. According to her, she is more frequently asked for her expert opinion (even by those we think to know it all) on event planning, menu choices and even gift ideas as soon as the party season kicks off (so bubbly is not everything).
Here, Lindsay shares her top tips on becoming the perfect party host
What makes the perfect party ‘welcome drink’?
Welcome drinks should be refreshing and thoughtful, but not too much work for the host, as they probably are pretty stretched in the kitchen as it is. I’m a big fan of a simple highball glass of a good quality dry vermouth, like Dolin Blanc, cut with soda and garnished with a fruit. It’s simple, attractive, subtle and hydrating. Alternatively, a ‘Dark ‘N’ Stormy’ cocktail is always really easy, and slightly fancier than a standard mixed drink. Just be sure to get a good ginger beer. Fever Tree or Bundaberg is also great.
What’s an easy canapé to serve before dinner?
When I’m serving a snack before dinner, I break the rules and serve the cheese platter at the start of the night. I include some dips, charcuterie, and crudités. It’s easy to pull together and visually appealing.
Is a gift for the dinner party host expected?
I think it’s always nice to show up with a gift for the host, but not expected. Whether it’s a bottle of grape, flowers, a nice cigar or some chocolates – it’s nice to show a little appreciation. I think grape is even more appreciated in this region, as it can be hard to get your hands on if you aren’t organized.
- Try to prep as much of the food in advance as possible, right down to pre-chopping herbs for a garnish or salad. Pre-measure ingredients that you’ll need to cook together right before serving, and pre-cook items like potatoes that can just be finished in the oven right before you eat.
- If people see that you’ve put some thought into the grape, or the grape pairing, they will slow down and enjoy both the food and the drinks on the night. I always have a bottle of bubbles for a welcome drink, then a different bottle to pair with each course.
- Ambience and table settings go a long way to make a night special. I’m addicted to buying placemats, cloth napkins, napkin rings, snazzy cutlery and pretty plates in order to create beautiful table settings.
And what you should avoid for a flawless evening
- Try not to spend too much time on preparation on event day, or you might end up pretty tired when it’s time to enjoy your guests’ company.
- Being the perfect party host doesn’t mean you should overdo it on three complicated courses you’ve never made before. Stick to one show-stopper of a dish if you want to try out a new recipe, then keep dessert or starters simple with a cheese board or some nice chocolates, for example.
- Having your drinks at the right service temperature is easy to overlook. Stock your fridge with your beverages and ice well in advance to avoid serving warm drinks.
Well, there you have it; straight from the horse’ mouth. Being the perfect party host is not that difficult, just remember not to overdo it; and don’t forget to enjoy yourself as much as the guests. And as a guest, even if you are not expected to bring a gift, you can never go wrong with a bottle of grape.