When the lovely folks at Jansz Tasmania offered to send us half a case of sparkling wine, Eric and I hosted leisurely three-course lunches matched to their wine.
We’ve hosted casual get-togethers in the past of course, but this was the first time we organized a full sit-down shindig. After two rounds of Sunday lunches, we’ve finessed hosting to a tee.
My Top Tips
- Everything from the theme and menu to napkins makes a difference when you have a plan. How many people can you comfortably fit in your place and are you missing anything? We bought extra crockery so that everything was matching. Though to be honest, I kind of like the mismatched look. Also, think about the time you set. Our first lunch was scheduled for noon and lasted until about 3.30pm. For our second lunch, we settled on 12.30pm (which went until about 4pm) so that we had more time in the morning.
- Decide on your budget, and whether you’re asking your guests to chip in. We asked our friends to contribute for the raw ingredients. Our truffle-themed lunch was almost twice as dear, so consider the cost of your ingredients.
- Clean one or two days in advance. I scrubbed down our outdoor table and chairs the morning of the lunch and it was a bit too rushed. Bring out the nice hand soap and stow away your toothbrush.
- A tablecloth makes a huge difference. In our small one-bedroom apartment we can only accommodate guests at our outdoor table, which has seen better days. Spread with a white tablecloth, adorn with a few vibrant flowers, and our balcony completely transformed. We also bought white napkins (from Kmart, mind you) and ironed them.
- Find out about any dietary requirements. One of our friends doesn’t eat pork, so we bought bresaola (air-dried beef) for the charcuterie course. Another friend is allergic to walnuts, which we forgot (lucky his allergy isn’t anaphylactic).
Make a list
- Make an ingredients list when you head out to the shops. We didn’t have a list the first time around, which resulted in a last minute run to the local grocery store a few hours before lunch.
Prep the Food
- If possible, choose food for the menu that you can prepare in advance. So whether this is a lasagne or a soup, it makes the lunch less stressful. Eric prepped a few dishes or elements one or two days in advance: this included the soufflés, chicken stock, mushroom stock, and the madeleine batter. It might also be worth practicing the dishes if you haven’t cooked them before. Eric did a few test runs of the cheese souffle and the duck beforehand.
- Consider your apartment or house layout. We had to rearrange our furniture to make room in our living area when it was a bit too cool and rainy to sit on our balcony. We moved our outdoor table and chairs from the balcony into the living room and stowed away our coffee tables and bar stools in our bedroom.
- Choose music to set the vibe. I went with Beyonce’s Lemonade (because Queen Bey is the queen of everything) and The Weeknd. But I would have considered something different depending on the guests.
Eric’s Three-Course Menus
Eric was quite ambitious with his menu choices. I’d probably recommend against this kind of complexity unless you’re feeling confident. A three-course menu is always challenging, so a shared style concept like the cheese and charcuterie course reduces cooking or prepping time.
For our first lunch, Eric created the following menu.
- Cheese & charcuterie: Bruny Island cheese (raw milk C2 and Oen), prosciutto, hot sopressa, bresaola, beetroot relish, quince paste, Brasserie Bread single origin sourdough, rustic loaf, raisin & walnut rye, Pepe Saya butter
- Beetroot risotto with Pepe Saya crème fraiche, walnuts, tarragon, and Woodside goats cheese
- Oops! I dropped the lemon tart. Eric’s take on Massimo Bottura’s famous lemon dessert. Shortcrust pastry, zabaione, Italian meringue, and Ciccone & Sons Amarena cherry gelato
- Lemon madeleines to finish
Our second lunch was truffle-inspired (and even more elaborate).
- Twice baked gruyere soufflé with Tasmanian truffles
- Duck & goats cheese pithivier with peas, jus, and truffle mash
- Jansz poached pear in a vanilla cinnamon syrup with puff pastry, truffle honey mascarpone, and truffles
- Lemon madeleines to finish
Sparkling wine, Bruny Island cheeses, and Tasmanian truffle honey were gifts from Jansz Tasmania.