Cocktails, Dinner & Conversation

Cocktails, Dinner & Conversation

Everyone has accepted your invitation for dinner. Now what?

Whether it’s a holiday get together or just a night of socializing, hosting a dinner party is a great way to bring together friends and family. It doesn’t have to be a stressful event, and it shouldn’t be! Plan ahead and be prepared. Impress your guests with your cooking and hosting skills, and wow them with the avours of local wine, beer and seasonal vegetables. We went to the experts at Taste of Nova Scotia for local entertaining ideas.

When Chris and Melissa its red, green and white colours lend Velden, co-owners of The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery in Summerville, N.S., plan a dinner party, they strive to create a casual, family-style menu. “It allows guests an opportunity to try a variety of foods and flavours without feeling pressured to eat what may be served to them with a plated dinner,” says Chef Chris.

With their German heritage, they often serve a pork dish paired with local, seasonal vegetables. And they always offer both local wine and beer.

“Avondale Sky Winery’s Montavista is a standard in our house,” adds Melissa. “It’s a great drinking wine, but also pairs really well with a variety of foods.”

Sit Down Dinner or Just Appetizers?

A sit down dinner allows you to enjoy a meal together. It encourages conversation and allows guests to try a variety of flavours, while politely passing on the items they may not like.

Serving all appetizers at a dinner party is a great option too. It can appeal to
a variety of taste preferences, while offering a nice selection of both hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. While appetizers can sometimes be a little more labour intensive to prepare than a meal, dips and cheeses are always an easy option.

Great Appetizers

Some of the Veldens’ favourite dinner party appetizers include charcuterie with fresh bread, pickled vegetables and local cheese. “This is always our first go-to when hosting,” says Chef Chris.

A favourite holiday appetizer is their sundried tomato goat cheese and pesto terrine with garlic crostini (see recipe on the following page). “It’s an easy, make ahead appetizer. It tastes delicious and its red, green and white colours lend themselves to Christmas.”

When it comes to dessert, they recommend a selection of family recipe cookies and squares. “You can showcase your culture and family in these recipes, and they are delicious and fun to make as a family or with friends,” says Melissa. “They also allow you to graze after a big meal.”

She suggests an assortment of sweets on platters, including items such as fudge, white chocolate brownies, fruit Streusel bars, and simple sugar cookies with seasonal decorations.

Theme Parties

Theme parties are always fun and can lead to an interesting assortment of food. If the party is potluck, it’s always beneficial to offer guests a category to avoid repeat items.

“If we host a potluck, we always provide the protein options and encourage guests to bring either a starter or side dish. For holiday potlucks, such as Easter and Christmas, we have a family policy that everyone bring a dessert, leaving us a delicious feast of sweets.”

Younger Guests

“As parents ourselves, considering children during a dinner is a first-of-mind concept,” says Melissa. “We find most children will eat roasted vegetables and potatoes, especially if roasted in maple! A nice homemade mac ’n cheese on the table will make most children happy, and usually adults too.”

The couple also has fun drinks on hand for the kids to make or choose from,
as well as table activities to keep them occupied. “Table trivia can be fun for the whole group,” adds Melissa.

Article by Lori McKay, Photo by The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery, courtesy of Taste of Nova Scotia