Have you ever experienced dining at a 3-star restaurant in France?
Upon arrival, you are immediately given an extraordinarily tasty little something that the French refer to as an amuse-gûeule, or “palate-tickler“. The reason it is such a winner is quite simple:
1. You’re starving.
2. They know that, and so they present you arguably the best thing you’ll have all night and it’s usually on the house! This sets the hook, just as movie previews entice us to buy show tickets.
You can learn from this. While pursuing a degree in professional wine tasting at the Universitè de Bordeaux, I learned that your ability to discern subtlety is at its best when you’re experiencing hunger. Your appetite is extremely fragile. All of our tasting sessions were conducted within 30 to 45 minutes to avoid palate saturation.
Too often, we allow our guests to overindulge in hors d’ouevres, which takes most of the edge off their appetites. If your intentions are to “WOW” your guests, you want them to maintain their hunger edge. My suggestion would be that you lead with your favorite food and wine combination first. Then, you can ratchet back from there as appetites begin to decline.
Give them the best you can offer them—first ! The same applies if you’re invited to a pot-luck dinner; always bring the first course.
Looking for a way to dazzle at your next party? Start with Champagne!
“What?” you ask. “Champagne’s only for special occasions!”
According to market statistics, the average American drinks Champagne on only two occasions per year, New Year’s Eve and on some other celebration such as a birthday or wedding. Because Americans only seem to associate drinking Champagne with celebrations, you can use this to your advantage when entertaining!
People will say “Oh, you shouldn’t have!”, or “Just for us?” Show your guests that you will always go out of your way for them. You don’t need to spend a lot of money either—$10 to $14 can get you something acceptable from Spain or California. Only spend serious money on Champagne when you know the recipients would recognize the difference…not many do!
And, if you’re going to serve Champagne, try it with the following recipe:
Parmesan Toasts (makes 60)
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 cups Parmesan Cheese (2 years old+)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
5 cloves chopped garlic
Optional pinch cayenne/black pepper/parsley
Pipe onto sourdough toast rounds and broil until brown on top. Serve hot! This recipe is magnetic with champagne.