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When Julius Caesar declared, “Veni, Vidi, Veci” after his triumph in Turkey, he could have probably not imagined that what was then The Roman Empire would evolve into Italy, and that the triumph of the Italians conquering hearts and minds today, had little to do with warfare, but with pasta, olive oil and a taste of the Sweet Life. The term ‘La Dolce Vita’ so vividly captured by Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini in the 1960’s, entered popular culture as a way of describing living life to its fullest.
As we head into the festive season, where celebrations are a little brighter after nearly two years in lockdown, UNRESERVED, with the help of Happy Fresh, takes you on a journey to celebrate the Best of Italy right in your own homes.
With a menu inspired by dishes from North to South, a music list that will get you tapping your toes to Mambo Italiano, we will be your guide to creating a perfect “Serata Italiana’. A convivial evening with friends spiced with the joy of life. Remember that “Bring Your Own” is not something Italians do – as the idea of the invitation is that the host will ensure that their guests are well taken care of. As Madonna once declared on her t-shirt, “Italians do it better’, perhaps that’s enough said.
So… open a bottle of Chianti, play our specially curated playlist on our Spotify account, and get out your notebook.
The Guest List
It’s good to have a list of friends or family that can come together socially with ease. Hosts should always sit with friends that perhaps are least known to the other guests. No strict rules on separating partners, the most important element is that people are in a position that is primed for conversation and enjoyment. Think of jobs, interests and hobbies when grouping people together. Make sure you have a nice balance of extroverts and listeners, otherwise you might end up with 1) a clash of personalities or 2) a library. 8-10 seems a nice number of friends to have over if you are cooking yourself.
Of course, the friendship and the conversations are the main point of the evening, but the food is arguably the biggest headache of the evening. It is pointless to invite those you love and then spend the entire evening in the kitchen. Dinner parties should also be enjoyed by the hosts – so plan ahead and make up a menu that allows you to make dishes in advance. Any items that need to be cooked on the day, think of items that require very little fussing on the night. Be aware of dietary restrictions and specific tastes. It is best to present a menu beforehand, so you may plan for numbers.
UNRESERVED’s Menu Suggestion
Begin with a selection of Antipasti
- Salami, Prosciutto, Cheese with green olives, Cetriolini (Gherkins)
- Roasted Artichoke Carpaccio with Parmesan
- Burrata with Grilled Zucchini
- Bread assortment served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
For main course you can offer people the choice of:
- Chicken Milanese served with mashed truffle potatoes and lemon roasted asparagus
- Spaghetti with clams served with white wine and spicy tomatoes
- Vegetarian: Pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, and basil pesto with whole grain fusilli
Pasta with clams
Two desserts as an offering is always glorious.
- Roasted Almond Cannoli, which is often served ricotta cheese filling, is an Italian favourite
- Coffee. This is also an opportunity to show your inner barista with a choice of coffees
The drink section is definitely a way to ‘theme up’ your evening. And Italy offers a range of drinks that will easily take you through the entire night. Not only your choice of wine is important but special ‘Aperitivo’s’ are a sure way to get your guests in the mood. Schedule enough time before dinner for people to get to know each other over drinks and get comfortable and relaxed. Think of Aperol, an orange aperitif, Bellini’s, a Prosecco cocktail with peach puree, and a Negroni, an orange perfumed drink with gin, bitter campari and sweet vermouth. And of course, always have a few bottles of Prosecco available.
Wines are a very personal choice but HappyFresh has a wonderful selection of Chiantis and Italian Chardonnays to check out.
At the end of dinner when the plates are cleared, leave your whisky in its decanter and serve your guests a limoncello or grappa as a digestive.
With the varieties of dishes you serve, white or neutral colours will play up the colours of the food. Accessorise with candles, flowers and fruits which are reminiscent of Italy such as lemons, sunflowers or rosemary. A well set table will impress your guests and create that feeling that the evening is special. So get out your best table cloth, napkins, cutlery, crockery and glassware. Don’t forget to polish it.
For your listening pleasure, UNRESERVED has compiled a list of classics brought to the 21st Century to create a happy, festive vibe. Click here to add our playlist in your favourites.
Dress to Eat Elegantly. Italian evenings mean that Food is King – however there is no reason why you should encourage “eating pants”. Like the Italians, encourage guests to dress with style but allow for space!
If your home is your ‘castello’, ensure that amenities such as the bathrooms, sinks and so on are fit for a king to sit on. A clean house means a considerate host. Pimp up your bathrooms with candles and small towels. Keep pets out of sight if possible. Furry animals are cute, but some also cause allergies.
There you have it. Our suggestions for a vibrant and fun dinner party. Enjoy the sweetness of life. La Dolce Vita is just one click away. Buon Appetito!
Shop with HappyFresh
You can buy most things mentioned in this article online from HappyFresh. From baking tools at Bake with Yen to gourmet specialties or frozen seafood, all your grocery needs are just one click away.
For more information about the products and the fuss-free service, head over to HappyFresh’s website.
Also check out our tips on how to impress your partner with an Italian Valentine’s Dinner at home.