There are many people asking me advice on the organization of cold dinners and choice of the ideal menu. The problems that occur are many and related to the tone you want to give to your evening party: formal or informal? There can be very formal cold dinners and get-together with your friends. You can dine outdoors, in terrace or in garden, or indoors. You can plan a meal, buffet style or a real banquet.
How to plan a cold dinner
Some tips to begin ...
- A cold dinner has an advantage: you can prepare all before and enjoy the evening really. Few dishes can be anticipated even a day before or bought ready-made to lighten the work.
Remember we are in summer and then you get tired more easily ^_-
- You can plan a cold dinner for formal invitations with your dinner table set according to etiquette and for informal invitations using disposable plates, cutlery and glasses too.
- It is also important for such an occasion to ask for any intolerances, allergies or lifestyle choices, with discretion obviously. Are you able to imagine what might happen with vegan people if you've planned a thematic menu on meat? For this reason I always remember to use many different ingredients to satisfy all your guests.
- Another recommendation: always plan at least a lukewarm dish. Not all like cold food.
Besides my great recommendation is that you should serve nothing at fridge temperature but ice cream and some dishes in sauces. Even the wine must not be frozen. I always say food served at room temperature is much more tastier ;)
- If you read my pages you're interested in Italian lifestyle and its full menus.
So you could plan a cold dinner according to the rigid Italian scheme: starter or antipasto, first course, second course and dessert but you have another chance too:
break this scheme and choose a variety of Italian dishes, as we Italian also do.
How to invite
- You must see things from two perspectives: formal and informal invitation Formal invitation: it's necessary to send a personal card in which you have to write clearly when and where your cold dinner will be. Informal invitation: today a phone call or an email are enough. I always suggest the phone call as first thing if you're throwing a cold dinner with your friends, it is more immediate. Email or SMS have, in my opinion, only the purpose of useful reminder ;)
How to set your table
- The premise is always the same. There is and there must be a large difference depending on the style of your dinner. Photos can help you for this topic.
- Formal invitation: you have to follow the same rules for a classic table setting.
Use fresh, summer flowers for your centerpiece but remember it must not be too high or bulky and you have to use no fragrant flowers
I have a personal idea about my refined table: no centerpiece. I prefer to have more space for bottles and glasses and arrange my flowers in large vases and amphoras placed close to the table or in the dining room.
In summer I love hydrangeas, sunflowers or bunches of lavender.
Another tip: small bouquets placed in crucial corners that echo the colors of my table ;)
You can see a formal table above.
- Informal invitation: set the table according your thematic menu.
The choice of fish, for example, may suggest a centerpiece with a few marine shells and smooth stones scattered on the table.
Another winning idea is decorating the area for dinner with big pots of herbs if you're planning alfresco dinner. Deliciously fragrant and attractive-to-look such an arrangement.
I always let the center of the table free for my serving platters.
If you use disposable plates, glasses and cutlery choose summer colors: yellow, orange, red ...
Or you could combine the table set with your flowers. Look at the photo: that evening I had chosen hydrangeas!
- Candles yes or not? If any of you follow me constantly should know exactly what I think of the topic. They can also be attractive but are a terrible combination with good food. At the end they may also be nauseating, and release a disagreeable odor. So not directly on the table ;)
But if you like the idea I suggest to place a good number of all sizes in a discreet corner and away from the table.
- Mosquito problem. There are not only mosquitos but other insects too outside so you have another problem if you're planning an alfresco dinner.
Today there are mosquito traps that claim to eliminate the problem because they attract mosquitoes by emitting carbon dioxide. The same compound that we issue breathing and that makes us their target. Some people tell they're OK.
- Lights. I know it would be beautiful to eat with dim lights but they are also very uncomfortable. Then lights should be adjusted so that everyone can see what's on his plate. It 's important!