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HOW TO HOST THE

PERFECT DINNER PARTY & PREPARE THE

che e

PERFECT

e t a se p l


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES 4

THE ETERNAL DELIGHT OF THE DINNER PARTY 5

NEW-SCHOOL ETIQUETTE FOR TODAY’S DINNER PARTIES 9

PLANNING THE DINNER PARTY 17

THE CHEESE PLATE 27

DINNER PARTY MECHANICS: HOW TO MAKE IT ALL RUN SMOOTHLY 35


“We should look for someone to eat and drink with

before looking for something to eat and drink.” – Greek philosopher,

Epicurus


UELI BERGER has an inexhaustible passion for cheesemaking, which began very early in life. After studying cheesemaking in Switzerland for three years, Berger was chosen from a group of 48 cheesemakers to work for an Australian soft cheese manufacturer. In 1998, he moved to King Island to become King Island Dairy’s head cheesemaker. With a career now spanning more than 25 years, Berger has earned acclaim both nationally and internationally. NATHY GAFFNEY is a personal impact expert. As director of Pitch Perfect Training she specialises in corporate training programs focusing on the areas of presentation skills, personal branding and etiquette in the workplace. She appears regularly on the Nine Network’s Mornings program as their resident etiquette expert – commentating on all matters of contemporary manners. NAOMI CRISANTE is an award-winning food educator, television presenter, stylist and food writer with more than 25 years experience in Australia’s food industry. Naomi managed the Australian Grand Dairy Awards for nine years, is an accredited cheese judge, has represented Australia as a judge at the World Cheese Championship Contest and has authored two editions of Cheese Matters and Crowd Pleasers. UELI BERGER

NAOMI CRISANTE

NATHY GAFFNEY


THE ETERNAL DELIGHT OF THE DINNER PARTY

“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” – Cookbook author and pioneering TV chef, Julia

Child


THE ETERNAL DELIGHT OF THE DINNER PARTY

A

few decades ago, dinner parties and the formalities that went with them could make evenings more taxing than relaxing. Thankfully, the days of polishing flatware, starching linen and performing ‘secret kitchen business’

while guests partied on without you are gone.

CREATIVE LICENSE TO THRILL Today, you get to choose the dinner

you want, following some tried and

party experience you want. You can

tested guidelines will give you the

set the tone and you can choose the

best chances of doing so with

style. You have full license to bring

success. That includes enjoying the

your own vision to life: large or small,

night yourself.

stand-up or sit-down; themed fun or themed formal.

Getting the invite right, fine-tuning the guest list, putting your guests at ease

No matter what style you choose, a

and making sure conversation flows

truly memorable dinner party won’t

as freely as wine – all of these are as

happen by itself. As any seasoned

essential to dinner party success as

host will tell you, while you’re entirely

choosing the right menu, wine, table

free to create the kind of evening

settings and décor.

THE ETERNAL DELIGHT OF THE DINNER PARTY


“When we’re discussing who to invite to a dinner party, my wife Chaz

and I sometimes use the shorthand ‘good value for money’, which indicates a guest expected to be entertaining.”

Film critic, journalist and author, Roger Ebert

7


WHETHER IT’S FRIENDLY SHARE-PLATTERS, THEMED EVENTS, SIGNATURE FOOD STYLES OR FORMAL FOUR-COURSES, FOLLOWING SOME SIMPLE GUIDELINES MEANS YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN DINNER PARTY RULES.


NEW-SCHOOL ETIQUETTE: FOR TODAY’S DINNER PARTIES

“Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honour.” – Emily

Post


NEW-SCHOOL ETIQUETTE FOR TODAY’S DINNER PARTIES

E

 tiquette. It’s an old-school word with some very contemporary and useful relevance. New school etiquette is not about rules but about guiding us through the uncertainties that the sheer variety of modern social

occasions can bring.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: YOUR DINNER PARTY INVITATION Everyone loves an invitation and the

THEME YOUR INVITATION

sense of anticipation it can bring.

Nothing says ‘prepare for a good time’

It’s important to remember that the

more than a fun, quirky invitation

invitation is also your guests’ first

that sets the scene for the evening’s

encounter with the mood and spirit of

entertainment. Don’t limit yourself to a

the dinner party you intend to create.

humble envelope -

A good rule of thumb is more casual

PACKAGING that ties in with the

dinners can have a more casual

theme is a must: boxes, baskets,

style of invitation such as phone

glasses or bottles.

calls, e-mail or social media. A more

INCLUDE AN ITEM that represents

formal dinner warrants a more formal

your theme. For example if it is a

invitation such as a mailed, hand

beach theme you may include a sea

written card as this will instantly set

shell, a Bon Voyage party may include

the expectations for the night.

a map of the travel destination.

NEW-SCHOOL ETIQUETTE FOR TODAY’S DINNER PARTIES


“Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations” – Poet, playwright and novelist, Oscar Wilde

INVITATION

TIPS 1

You can create personalised, themed online invitations for little or no expense. Have a look at these websites for ideas and inspiration: www.postmark.com, www.paperlesspost.com and www.smilebox.com

2 If your dinner is for a special occasion such as a birthday, make sure your guests know this in advance. This information invariably comes out on the night, and guests who didn’t know may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. If you want a low-key approach, it’s fine to request ‘no gifts’ or ‘no fuss’.

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ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Whether your event is casual or formal, large or small, including the

• Don’t forget to include

• Signpost your invitation to

practical information such

guide dress code and tone:

as time, date, place, if the

‘gourmet glamour’

following details on

dinner marks a special

or ‘poolside drinks’ – this

your invitation can be

occasion and relevant

can save your guests a lot

contact/s for RSVPs.

of uncertainty and will

useful for both guest and host.

• Let your guests know

• For all but the most

what they should – or

casual dinner parties, consider issuing invitations a month or so in advance – more for formal occasions.

or printed invitations and

you want.

should not – bring: ‘Please

• By all means use social

bring a bottle’ or ‘No gifts’.

media, but it may be

• Ask guests to let you know any food allergies,

• If using formal written

help you shape the mood

exclusions or preferences.

most suitable for large gatherings, in which case you can create ‘an event’. If you do choose Facebook,

running behind time, send

• If you live somewhere

send invitations via private

a ‘save the date’ and follow

hard-to-find, include a map

message.

up later with the real thing.

or directions.

NEW-SCHOOL ETIQUETTE FOR TODAY’S DINNER PARTIES


GETTING THE CHEMISTRY RIGHT Much of getting the chemistry right depends on your guest list: choosing a combination of personalities, ages, background and interests that strikes the right kind of conversational sparks. Considering these ‘guest elements’ can help you create chemistry that works.

KEY ELEMENTS IN THE GUEST LIST FORMULA 1 Look at the interests of the personalities concerned. Broad interests in common can create synergy, narrow shared interests can create a less-than-social clique or uncomfortable competition. Widely differing interests and opinions can lead to unwanted fireworks or stony silences.

2 Do you know people who might benefit from meeting but haven’t? Two families who live in the same area, two professionals who might benefit from connecting, a younger person with career aspirations that match an older person’s expertise? These could be winning combinations.

3 Are you the common link between old friends who’ve fallen out of touch? It can be great fun to get them back together.

4 Do you know a ‘social natural’ you can rely on to contribute and help things along? Good mixers are a plus at any party.

5 Has someone caught your interest, personally or professionally? A dinner party can be the ideal opportunity to get to know someone better in ‘safe’ group circumstances.

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THE GENTLE ART OF HOSTING

The best hosts create an environment in which guests feel instantly comfortable and relaxed. That means striking the right balance between control of the entire experience and flexibility if things don’t quite go to plan.

IN THEIR SHOES (OR, LAYING OUT THE ULTIMATE WELCOME MAT) Remember that what your guests see, hear and smell on arrival creates an instant impression, so try to make sure it’s the right one: consider the lighting, music, scented candles or cooking smells they’ll experience as they enter your home. If you can, greet your guests at the door; if you’re in the kitchen or serving drinks, ask a partner or friend to be on ‘greeting duty’ so each guest feels welcome. It’s a good idea to set aside a place for bags and coats; show your guests or take

Accept any gifts with thanks and place them in a designated area. Swift introductions break the ice: introduce arriving guests to others in the area as soon as you’ve greeted them. A drink on arrival says ‘welcome’: offer a drink first up and let your guests know where they can find food and more drinks. If your guests haven’t visited you before, be sure to let them know the location of the guest bathroom.

their belongings to it when they arrive.

NEW-SCHOOL ETIQUETTE FOR TODAY’S DINNER PARTIES


INTRODUCTIONS Introducing guests who haven’t met before with ‘conversational hooks’ or indicating their interests in common can be a great way to get them talking.

RELAX Nothing inhibits a good time more than a host who is visibly stressed or who tries too hard to push guests in a direction they don’t want to go. And nothing creates a good time more than a host who provides a relaxed setting where guests can shine.

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SOLVING THE SEATING EQUATION

Dinner party chemistry is created not only

At a formal dinner – hosts often take

by the guests, but by the thought and

the head of the table – but this is not

consideration given to ‘combining’ them –

mandatory, especially if that puts you

in other words, where they sit.

furthest from the kitchen or bar area.

As the host, you know your guests best

To the above point – it makes sense

and will have the best insights into what

for helpers / servers and hosts to sit with

seating arrangements will create the

easiest kitchen and bar / drink access.

atmosphere you’re aiming for.

Help break the ice – avoid awkward

Mixing it up – generally, try not to seat

hovering at formal dinners or where guests

hosts or partners together – give everyone

don’t know each other by planning seating

a chance to mingle.

in advance. Placecards or verbal guidance are fine – whatever best suits the occasion.

NEW-SCHOOL ETIQUETTE FOR TODAY’S DINNER PARTIES


“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French Aristocrat

PLANNING THE DINNER PARTY

(1900-1944)


PLANNING THE DINNER PARTY

PLANNING THE PERFECT MENU If you love good food and sharing it with others,

MENUS WITH ATTITUDE BRING YOUR GUESTS TOGETHER around

then choosing your menu is a dinner party planning

platters laden with morsels they can share, mix and

highlight. What you ultimately decide to serve is

match as they please.

a very personal choice. A whole range of factors can guide you, from the type of occasion, to your confidence in the kitchen, the facilities you have available, the number of guests you’re inviting and of course, for the true foodie, the season. The good news is there are many, many quality resources you

TUREENS OF SOUP, tagines and slow-cooker meals are easy crowd-pleasers when the weather is cool. Throw in bowls of steaming mash, pasta, rice or cous cous and let everyone serve themselves. TAPAS AND MEZZE give you and your guests

can turn to for culinary inspiration. The challenge is

the chance to sample a range of hot and cold

not to get lost in them …

dishes in the same course.

AN INTEGRAL PART OF MENU PLANNING is not just choosing what to serve, it’s deciding how to serve it. Thinking it through step by step will help inspire and guide your serving choices. WHAT WILL THE FOOD LOOK LIKE? Will you need to provide cutlery or will it all be finger food?, What is the best sequence for serving? Is it hot or cold? Does your concept require dishes to be served together or can you stagger multiple standalone dishes to extend the enjoyment? Do you have enough chairs and tables for a complete

ASK GUESTS TO BRING A PLATE, American ‘pot luck’ style, and have fun guessing who brought what. SET UP YOUR OWN HOME NOODLE MARKET or other ‘street food’ theme – Mexican also works well. Set up the wok on the barbecue, lay out the best and freshest ingredients and some different noodle, spice and sauce choices. Then let your guests choose the combinations they want and throw it all in the wok with some drama and flair.

sit-down affair or will all people be casually perching or picnicking?

PLANNING THE DINNER PARTY


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BALANCE YOUR AMBITIONS WITH YOUR ABILITIES

Planning a perfect menu involves more than just cuisine choice. Here are some useful guidelines that will help you achieve a balanced result – and avoid some potential pitfalls

MUSTS FOR MENU PLANNING • Ask your guests about allergies,

• Focus on one or two ‘hero’ dishes, and

intolerances, preferences or aversions

complement them with simpler or easy-

before the night, preferably on the

to-prepare options. Their impact will be

invitation, and plan their dishes accordingly.

greater and your task will be easier.

• Choose a menu with as many make-

• Don’t include a first-time recipe.

ahead dishes as possible. This helps avoid last- minute crises, gives you time to clean up and, most of all, leaves you more time to entertain and enjoy your guests. • If baking or roasting, plan to use bakeware that can be served straight to the table – a great investment that streamlines the serving process but be sure to warn guests not to touch the hot dish!

• Work within the limitations of your kitchen to avoid last minute issues such as competing oven or stove top space, insufficient serving space or dishes. • Quality, pre-prepared deli goods are a fast and delicious option for taking the pressure off. If you’re time poor or lack kitchen confidence, don’t be afraid to use them.

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION When looking for dinner party inspiration, the following web sites are great places to start: www.gourmettraveller.com.au; www.taste.com.au; www.epicurious.com; www.cheesematters.com.au; www.kingislanddairy.com.au; www.pinterest.com

PLANNING THE DINNER PARTY


CREATING THE RIGHT ATMOSPHERE

Atmosphere. Like that special chemistry among your guests, it’s that almost indefinable quality created by the interplay of lighting, décor, music and the senses. The right atmosphere welcomes and builds anticipation of good times ahead. And planning is the key to achieving it.

TABLE STAKES Aim to surprise guests with your creative use of colour schemes, layering and textures, along with humorous, dramatic or themed touches that personalise your décor. Try these touches for some instant appeal.

BE DIFFERENT For something completely different, source a length of real turf to use as a table runner. Add some seashells for a quirky ‘surf and turf’ theme; or use banana or palm leaves for a more tropical feel.

CREATE A THEME Create colourful centerpieces and tie them in with your theme or menu: use coloured citrus and serve only dishes with citrus elements. Do the same with bright Christmas baubles for your Christmas (or Christmas in July) dinner or with sheafs of fragrant fresh or dried herbs that you showcase in your menu.

QUIRKY IDEAS Source some chalk or butcher’s paper for use as tablecloths or placemats. Decorate with colourful chalk or crayons: try personalised messages, guests’ names so mats double as place cards, write the menu for the evening. Or make it interactive and ask your guests to write a ‘review’ of the night or a special message to commemorate the occasion for the guest of honour.

FLOWERS AND CANDLES Flowers and candles are always a popular table setting choice. In general, stick to low floral arrangements that don’t impede cross-table views and conversation. Likewise, choose low candles that are not easily knocked over.

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“I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that’s what gets a

dinner party off to a fun start. ” – Food network host and former

White House nuclear policy analyst, Ina Garten

PLANNING THE DINNER PARTY


A LITTLE BIT OF LIGHT MAGIC Nothing creates mood better than the right lighting. It’s also a very easy and inexpensive way to achieve dramatic effects. If you consider lighting first and foremost, you can build the rest of your décor around it.

IN GENERAL, aim for a warm, golden glow. Harsh

PERFECT HARMONY

white light is the enemy of mood.

The music you play during the evening will also shape atmosphere. Think carefully about the tone

CANDLES, PLENTY OF THEM, and in a combination

you want to set for each stage of your dinner party

of styles, should be your lighting stand-by. Use

and plan your music accordingly.

banks of wax candles on mantelpieces or other surfaces; arrange tealights to highlight pathways,

PLAN IN ADVANCE and create a dinner party

artworks or favourite decorator pieces. Use

playlist from your music library so you don’t spend

unscented candles that won’t fight with food

the night fumbling around the CD player or digital

aromas for the dining table but feel free to use

music device

scented ones in bathrooms or living rooms.

DINNER MUSIC should be a supporting player,

FAIRY LIGHTS, both indoors and outdoors, can

not the star at your dinner party. Nothing kills

create a magical effect, as can strings of lanterns

conversation more than loud or intrusive music.

BLEND LAMP AND OVERHEAD LIGHTING to

CONSIDER LIVELY MUSIC when guests are mingling

highlight what you want to be seen, and downplay

and something more chilled over dinner. If the

what you don’t. If you have dimmers, use them!

energy is lagging after dinner, you can lift the mood

ONE PLACE WHERE A LITTLE EXTRA LIGHT can

again with something more lively.

be welcome is the dinner table itself. Augment

It’s up to you to read the mood in the room and

candlelight with a little extra overhead or lamplight

adjust accordingly.

to make sure your guests can see what they’re eating. Dining in the dark is just plain annoying.

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WHAT GLASS IS THAT?

WINE, BEER AND SOFT DRINKS YOUR DINNER PARTY GIVES YOU THE CHANCE TO CREATE SOME THEATRE, SAMPLE SOME FINE WINES AND GENERALLY ENJOY YOURSELF.

THE DRINKS YOU OFFER CAN ALSO CEMENT THE EVENING’S THEME AND MOOD, SO IT’S BEST TO GIVE THEM SOME THOUGHT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.

TEMPERATE ZONES To get the best from the wines you serve, be guided by our expert tips:

CHILLED SPARKLING

CHARDONNAY and

WINE OR CHAMPAGNE

other more full-bodied

should be served straight

whites are best served

from thefridge. Once

a few degrees warmer:

open, keep the bottle

simply take them out of

on ice.

the fridge half an hour

RIESLING, SAUVIGNON

before serving.

BLANC and other young,

RED WINES should

zippy wines are also

generally be served at

best served straight from

room temperature.

the fridge.

When it comes to drinks, glassware counts. Different glasses suit different wine types. So it’s a good idea to organise your glassware to match the wines on offer before your guests arrive. In general: Use flutes for Sparkling,

Decanters are great for

small wine glass for

oxygenating young red

white, larger glasses for

wines bottled under

red, and the smallest

screw cap: simply pour in

glasses for dessert wines.

the wine and let the air do the rest. An hour or two in the decanter before drinking will do most reds a world of good.


THE ALES HAVE IT Beer is an underrated dinner party player. Beer and food are happy bedfellows and the diverse range of beer styles available means there’s a beer for almost every meal. Follow these pointers to help decide what goes with what … but remember, in the end, if it tastes good to you, go with it. THINK OF ALES as red

IN GENERAL, lagers

wine and lagers as white.

should be served cold

Hoppy, bitter beers such

while ales are best

as IPAs can also be used

enjoyed slightly warmer

in place of acidic wines

depending on the style.

to help cut through rich, fatty flavours.

THIS GOES WITH THAT If you need some help with food and wine matching,

Bigger reds such as

reds such as Pinot Noir,

a Barossa Shiraz or a

Nebbiolo or Grenache

Coonawarra Cabernet

from big, round glasses

Sauvignon are shown

to highlight the aromas

to advantage when with

with lighter meats or rich

chargrilled meats.

FROM BEER serve

stronger cheeses go with

it in a glass, just like

stronger ales. The more

wine. While the purists

hop bitterness in the

maintain that style of

beer, the more robust

glass should vary with the

the flavours of the meal

beer, if your beer is fresh

need to be.

about it.

and fresh young cheeses. Serve light, aromatic

style beers, while

you’re going the right way

Choose light whites with light foods such as fish

vegetable dishes.

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team well with ‘softer’

TO GET THE MOST

and your glass is clean,

there are some simple guidelines you can follow:

SOFTER STYLE CHEESES


BEST SUPPORTING ACT: THE SOFT DRINKS

Keep the party fresh and zesty by

SOPHISTICATED CORDIALS and essences

including a choice of cleansing, refreshing

can give soft drinks a twist: try Elderflower

soft drinks for guests who prefer not to

cordial, for example

drink alcohol or want to limit their alcoholic intake. There are many options available:

CHINOTTO and some other ‘adult’ soft drinks such as Mac’s non-alcoholic range

JUICES offered straight or with a spritz of

provide a welcome break from their

soda or mineral water: grape, pomegranate

sweeter local counterparts

and cranberry are zesty choices. Traditional mixers such as soda, tonic water and dry ginger ale can be lifted with a dash of

FRUIT PUNCH or ‘mocktails’ can create a real party mood

bitters, or fresh lime or lemon juice.

TOP TIP It may seem old-fashioned, but do make sure you try the wine first to ensure it is not corked.

PLANNING THE DINNER PARTY


THE

CHEESE PLATE

“Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.” – Intellectual, author, radio and television personality,

Clifton Fadiman


THE CHEESE PLATE

P

 ride of place at any dinner party goes to the cheese platter. It can welcome guests on arrival as an icebreaker, table centrepiece and talking point. Or, main course finished, it’s the perfect introduction to the evening’s next chapter. Couple the

cheese platter with well-chosen accompaniments and all you and your guests need to do is sit back and enjoy. In this section, we offer some guidance on choosing, serving and storing cheese.

A PLACE AT EVERY DINNER PARTY Cheese is justifiably renowned as

BUT FIRST, A MOMENT OF

a versatile crowd pleaser, offering

APPRECIATION, PLEASE.

something to match every palate. That’s all the more reason to know your cheese, and plan your platter to make the very most of the flavour range and intensity levels available. Once you’ve selected your cheeses, you can team them with the perfect accompaniments.

Artisan cheese needs protection and careful storage in the right conditions. It is a modern miracle that something like a soft white cheese, produced on a little island like King Island in the middle of Bass Strait, which has just one boat a week to take its produce to the mainland,

In the following pages, we’ve offered

can grace the tables of the finest

some guidance to help you make the

restaurants and family homes in every

right cheese choices.

state of this big country of ours.

Did you know: It takes approximately 10 litres of milk to create one kilo of cheese.

THE CHEESE PLATE


HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CHEESE

There are no rules when it

• All cheeses should be served

including a Washed Rind

comes to appreciating cheese

at room temperature. Remove

cheese – its intensity of flavour

– except that you should appreciate it! To make the most of your cheese, follow these guidelines:

them from the refrigerator one

and satiny texture will set your

hour before, and unwrap close

platter apart.

to serving time.

SERVING WITH STYLE

• Just like fruit, cheese

For high impact, choose

continues to mature and ripen

an oversized board or

after it is made. Soft cheeses

platter, allowing space for

are best bought and served

accompaniments and room for

close to the Best Before date.

guests to cut the cheese easily.

THE CHEESE BASICS: A WELL-BALANCED PLATTER

Use a wooden board, marble,

To create a well-balanced

with colour and texture: choose

platter, choose a Soft White

wicker or rattan, tiles, slate,

cheese, a Blue and a firmer

glass, timber slabs, a mirror,

• Allow a minimum of 30g of

style such as Vintage Cheddar.

or even a cake stand or high

each cheese per guest, no more

If you are catering for true

tea stand.

than 120g in total for each.

cheese enthusiasts, consider

• Store cheeses in the original wrapper, especially Soft White cheeses, Washed Rinds and Blues. Cheddars can be wrapped in plastic. Wrap leftover cheese in baking paper and store in an airtight container, refrigerated between 3°C and 5°C.

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large ceramic platter or play


SOFT WHITE CHEESE

TRADITIONAL CHEESE STYLES AND HOW TO SERVE THEM LIKE WINE, CHEESE COMES IN MANY DIFFERENT STYLES, EACH WITH ITS OWN UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS, DEPENDING ON ITS ORIGIN, AGE AND THE CHEESE-MAKING TECHNIQUE USED TO CREATE IT. CONSIDER THESE TRADITIONAL STYLES FOR YOUR CHEESE PLATE.

WASHED RIND A more unusual cheese, Washed Rind combines a pale orange coat with a luscious golden centre and a pungent aroma in direct contrast to its sweet and earthy flavour. Coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with a distinctive character, these types of cheese earn their name during manufacture, when they are bathed or scrubbed with brine or other liquids such as wine, to

encourage the growth of the surface culture, Brevibacterium linens – known affectionately as Brevi. This gives Washed Rind cheeses their characteristic sticky orange rind, which darkens with age, keeps the cheese supple and contributes to its earthy aroma. Although edible, the rind may be overpowering and too ‘wild’ to enjoy, so feel free to eat it or leave it as you prefer.

THE KING ISLAND DAIRY RANGE OF WASHED RIND CHEESE INCLUDES: Stormy Washed Rind Huxley Washed Rind

These elegant cheeses include famous names such as Brie and Camembert. The use of special cultures, Penicillium Candidum, creates this distinctive style, encouraging the growth of a downy white bloom on the surface while ripening it from the outside in, softening the centre and

creating its sought-after, complex flavour. The white rind, which may sometimes be tinged with orange, is perfectly edible and adds to the textural enjoyment of the cheese. Soft white cheeses will vary from mild and buttery, to rich and savoury with a light, mushroomy aroma.

THE KING ISLAND DAIRY SOFT WHITE CHEESE RANGE INCLUDES: Cape Wickham Double Brie Phoques Cove Camembert Loorana Double Brie Black Label Double Brie Furneaux Double Cream Discovery Ash Brie Discovery Brie Rolle Seal Bay Triple Cream Brie


BLUE CHEESE Blue cheeses have a beauty all their own, each with its own personality and flavour profile.

Once formed, the cheese is pierced with stainless steel rods, allowing air to circulate.

With a creamy white body mottled with striking green, grey, blue or even black veins Blue cheeses are created using Penicillium Roqueforti culture spores.

This encourages growth of veins throughout the cheese, softening its texture and infusing it with distinctive flavour.

THE KING ISLAND DAIRY BLUE CHEESE RANGE INCLUDES, IN ORDER OF INTENSITY STARTING WITH THE MILDEST: Lighthouse Blue Brie Black Label Triple Cream Blue Discovery Ash Blue Roaring Forties Blue Bass Strait Blue Endeavour Blue

CHEDDAR Both a dependable, tasty stand-by for every day, and the delight of a true cheese connoisseur, there is a Cheddar for every occasion and palate. Ranging from mild, supple cheeses to rich, crumbly aged cheddars with bite and a lingering flavour Cheddar takes its name both from the village of Cheddar in England,

where it was originally sold and the cheddaring method of manufacture. This involves blocks of cheese curd being stacked on top of each other, like bricks, where they release moisture and develop the unique Cheddar texture. Cheddars can also be made by the stirred method, where curds are stirred to create a more open-textured cheese.

THE KING ISLAND DAIRY CHEDDAR RANGE INCLUDES: Surprise Bay Cheddar Stokes Point Smoked Cheddar Black Wax Cheddar Black Label Cloth Matured Cheddar 31


THE KINDEST CUT: CHOOSING THE RIGHT CHEESE KNIFE

The shape of the cheese will determine the best way to cut it. Cut a wedge from a round wheel as you would a cake, from the centre outward in thin wedges. Don’t cut the ‘nose’ or the point off the cheese. Cut rectangular cheeses into slices and thinly slice cheese logs. Also: PROVIDE ONE KNIFE for each style of cheese so flavours are not mixed. TO CUT A WEDGE FROM A WHEEL, use a large, sharp cook’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped. Score the cheese rind or wax first and then gently rock the knife from front-to-back, applying pressure to evenly cut through the body of the cheese. CHEESE KNIVES ARE USEFUL for cutting and extract cheese pieces via the prongs on the end however any sharp knife will suffice; a butter or pate knife can be used for softer cheeses. CHEESE KNIVES WITH HOLES in the blade are designed to stop the knife from sticking to soft cheeses.

THE CHEESE PLATE


BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOUR CHEESE

Teaming your cheeses with exactly the right

HEAVENLY MATCHES

accompaniments, from fruits, breads, crackers and

While your own palate should be the guide,

condiments to wine, beer and soft drinks, will help

different cheese styles often marry well with

you bring out the best in it.

particular accompaniments.

WINE AND CHEESE

SOFT WHITE CHEESE Team with crusty French

The aim of pairing cheese with wine (or any

bread, ham, figs, smoked salmon, red grapes,

other accompaniment) is to choose flavours that

almond bread, strawberries, nectarines, fruit bread.

complement or contrast, not clash. In general:

CHEDDAR CHEESE Quince paste, green apples,

MATCH LIGHT CHEESES WITH LIGHT WINES, and

walnuts, sourdough bread, chutney, raisins and

stronger cheeses with heavier wines.

dates, tomatoes – fresh, roasted or grilled, smoked ham.

SOFT WHITE CHEESES, like Brie and Camembert,

BLUE CHEESE Fresh, ripe pears or figs, fruit

are best paired with sparkling, full-bodied whites

paste – quince or plum, sourdough or fruit bread,

and dessert wines.

port-soaked prunes or dried figs, lavender or truffle

CHEDDARS AND SMOKED CHEDDARS work with

honey, walnuts.

full-bodied whites and reds like shiraz or pinot noir.

WASHED RIND CHEESE Pickles, gherkins and

BLUES are best served with dessert wines and port.

cornichons, bacon and smoked meats, sourdough bread, fruit bread, hazelnuts, dates.

WASHED RINDS can work with pinot noir, dessert wines and beer.

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WHEN TO SERVE CHEESE

The versatility of cheese makes it the true friend of the dinner party host, making a welcome entrance either before or after the meal. Use the following suggestions as a guide – but feel free to take it further.

BEFORE THE MEAL Consider a cheese and antipasto platter, but stick to soft, subtle flavoured cheeses, such as brie and camembert. Serve it with olives, crudités, crackers and more.

AFTER DINNER You can serve your chosen cheese plate after main course and before dessert – it is the ideal dish to transition guests from the main course to the dessert wines. You can also serve cheese instead of dessert. Select cheeses that will complement a sweeter wine style to give your meal a sweet finish.

THE CHEESE PLATE


DINNER PARTY MECHANICS: HOW TO MAKE IT ALL RUN SMOOTHLY


DINNER PARTY MECHANICS: HOW TO MAKE IT ALL RUN SMOOTHLY

Y

 ou’ve made the guest list, sent the invitations and planned the décor and menu. How do you make sure all those different parts work together the way you want them? If you think of your dinner party as a machine, then the

following etiquette guidelines are like the oil that keeps it running smoothly. While of course only guidelines, the tips on the following pages will help your guests relax and the wine and food flow easily.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING When it comes to timing the meal,

This is especially the case for

once again it’s all about balance.

a large group, if serving is time-

While the finer details will always

consuming, the dish is best enjoyed

depend on the needs of your guests,

very hot or if guests are serving

the mood of the night and the nature

themselves from communal dishes.

of the meal itself, being mindful of the following guidelines will help keep the party ticking along. A good rule of thumb is to aim to have the first course served and cleared within an hour of your guests’ arrival. What you don’t want is to for your guests to be hungry either before or between courses. It’s always a good idea to let guests know if they are welcome to start meals,

Do let guests know the number of courses they can expect so they can pace their dining accordingly – it would be a shame for them to miss out! If there are latecomers, use your discretion about delaying the start – but do be mindful of guests who have arrived on time. A good compromise is to set aside a meal for late arrivals, so everybody wins.

even if all guests haven’t been served.

DINNER PARTY MECHANICS: HOW TO MAKE IT ALL RUN SMOOTHLY


SOME AT-TABLE

BASICS 1

Try to keep plates, glasses, bottles and cutlery that are needed for the course being served on the table – a crowded table can be uncomfortable for guests to sit at and lead to spillages and breakages.

2 By all means accept help from your guests if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, a smile and a thank you is always a good thing.

3 You can refill glasses yourself or invite guests to help themselves from open wines on the table. If you are refilling, be mindful that guests who are driving or are not big drinkers may prefer to take charge of their own.

4 Still or sparkling water at the table is always a good idea. Tap water with a slice of lemon in it is easy to prepare.

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SHARING GIFTS AND CONVERSATION

UNDER WRAPS: WHEN IS A GIFT TO BE SHARED?

GOOD CONVERSATION is what we look

ANYTHING YOU’VE ASKED your guests to

forward to at a dinner party – but it doesn’t

bring is best enjoyed on the night.

always happen spontaneously. Good

IF IN DOUBT, err on the side of generosity, and share gifts with your guests at the dinner party – especially for a quality bottle that is chilled and clearly ready to drink. IF IT’S GIFT WRAPPED OR BOXED, you can consider it a gift (especially if white wine or sparkling is unchilled). However, you can still give your guest the option to open it: “This looks special, should we try it tonight?” FOR CHOCOLATES, CHEESE, WINE or other items handed directly to you unwrapped, in a shopping bag or similar, try to offer them that evening.

STARTING THE CONVERSATION

etiquette includes being prepared to create and inspire quality conversation, saving your guests from stilted small talk. Try the following hints if talk slows: BOOKS, TRAVEL, FILM, THEATRE AND CONCERTS are always great talking points. ENCOURAGE OTHERS – especially more reserved guests – to speak. AVOID DISCUSSING RELIGION OR POLITICS – unless you know your company well. TAKE A TIP FROM BRIDGET JONES and try to include an interesting fact about each of your guests when introducing them to each other. But do steer clear of embarrassing revelations.

DINNER PARTY MECHANICS: HOW TO MAKE IT ALL RUN SMOOTHLY


AFTER DINNER: COFFEE, TEA OR LIQUEUR?

The meal may be finished, but the evening

FOR MORE FORMAL DINNERS, offer

is not. In fact, many experienced hosts

a choice of herbal and a black tea and

maintain that the true soul of dinner party

caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

emerges only after the main course is

A CHOICE OF LIQUEURS or dessert wines

served. Keep conversation flowing by

may also be appropriate.

ensuring your guests are well cared for at this stage. Consider serving tea, coffee and

AT A MORE CASUAL EVENT, guests may

liqueur in another room – a lounge room or

prefer to continue with their wine, have a

terrace with comfortable seating so guests

palate cleansing ale or soft drink, or call it a

can stretch out is ideal.

night with tea or coffee.

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SEEING YOUR GUESTS HOME One of the perils of dinner party success is having guests who really don’t want to leave. Your final duty as host is to ensure when they depart, they do so safely and still wrapped in a welcoming glow. Some tips to spur the stayers for a safe departure include: OFFERING to call taxis SUGGESTING guests who live in similar areas share a taxi or a lift OFFER TO KEEP a guest’s car keys and drive their car home the next day – and they can drive you back

DINNER PARTY MECHANICS: HOW TO MAKE IT ALL RUN SMOOTHLY


THE PARTY’S OVER – UNTIL NEXT TIME

Inviting others into your home shows a willingness to open yourself to others that is universally appreciated. At its best, the dinner party builds warm memories, cements relationships and opens doors to new friendships. It also inspires others to follow suit and open their own homes to create this experience for others. So the cycle can continue. It’s just a matter of taking the first step, by throwing your own dinner party. It is our hope that this book will help you do so.

“At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well,

and talk well but not too wisely.”

– British playwright and novelist W. Somerset Maugham

Copyright 2014 King Island Dairy All rights reserved. The content published in this e-book contains information provided by third parties to King Island Dairy, which has been designed and edited by F4 Consulting. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form by any means, electronic, printing or otherwise, without prior permission of the copyright holders. To download this e-book, visit King Island Dairy’s Facebook page.

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How to host the perfect dinner party