There we were, three evenings deep into our Come Dine With Me experience.
So far we’d had it all – a Mexican explosion, a South African feast and an Asian Fusion adventure. But now? Well, now the pressure was on. It was our turn to host our night of Come Dine With Me and we were frantically putting together our little French Bistro.
There are many ways that I expected my life to go, being an insurance broker was not one of them. But party planning? I think it may be my calling. Not because I’m particularly good at it, but because I freaking love immersing myself in a theme and then watching it translate into an evening of fun.
We went with a French theme and obviously we asked everyone to dress up for the occasion. However in my need to make sure everything was running smoothly, I totally forgot to take pictures of everyone. I’ll make up for it with TWO pictures of us haha.
For decor I kept it simple.
Lots of white, light blue and loads of lavender that I stole from my Moms garden. I used all the glass bottles I could find in my cupbaords and dressed them up with cute lace tape that I got for my birthday and also just white tissue paper with string.
We also put on some French music and copied a whole bunch of French images to play as a screen saver on our TV/Computer screen in the lounge.
If you’re not familiar with the parties we throw, whether kids or adults, we like to go the extra mile so to speak. Maybe no one would notice, but we will kinds of things. So Seth drew up our bistro menu and we put it outside to welcome our guests to our home.
Could we pronounce anything on the menu? Nope, but it was fun anyway 🙂
Now for the food.
We served a pre starter that was so amazing that I’m going to make it for every single party that we have from now on. It really was simply delicious. And no, I didn’t do it all on my own – we have Jamie Oliver to thank for the recipe (find it here). The only thing I’d do differently is to oil the rosemary before poking through the bread because then it apparently doesn’t burn?
Baked Camembert with Rosemary infused Baguette and a nutty Cranberry Crumble
Then for the real starter we did the traditional French Onion Soup with toasted baguette and grilled emmental cheese.
French Onion Soup
I searched and searched for what to make for main and eventually we decided on boeuf bourguignon. Although hearty and rather yummy, it did lack the punch that the main course needs when being served for an event like this. Because actually, it’s just stew.
We made up for the main with a dessert that was so tasty I am still thinking about it.
Seth made vanilla ice cream. That’s right you heard me. We made our own ice cream and then I made an apple tart. I used this recipe but changed the following:
- I used Woolies Puff pastry because I could never make it better than they can
- I brushed the pastry with a very thin layer of the melted apricot jam
- I sprinkled with an 1/8th of sugar and not 1/4.
- I only lightly brushed the top of the cooked tart with the apricot jam, using not even close to 1/2 the tine. It’s all already so sweet that it would have just been gross to put on any more.
French Apple Tart with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
We wrapped up the evening by watching all of the scores that we gave each other and it was hilarious – not only to see what we looked like on camera but because of what everyone said.
At the end of the day we totaled everyones scores and announced the winner.
- 4th – South African
- 3rd – Mexican
- 2nd – French
- 1st – Asian Fusion
Of course we were a bit bummed that we didn’t win, but we had such fun on all the nights it really could have gone to anyone. Over all it was such a great experience and I’d highly recommend doing it with your friends/family!!
Here’s what you need to consider before starting your own Come Dine With Me evening with your friends and family:
- You need to commit. Thankfully we never had this problem, but it would really suck if the first couple put in all their hard work and money into a great evening and then no one else holds up their end.
- Have some great entertainment that keeps the evening going – 30 Seconds, 20 Questions, Jenga, Twister… The options really are endless.
- Before you start you should lay some ground “rules”. That way the hosts of the first night are given a fair chance. Decide if you are all going to send out menus before the time, dress up, offer 3 courses or 2 and have “entertainment”.
- Get an impartial person to film the end of the evening wrap ups and scores. Or get everyone to film it on their phones and send it to one point. Make sure you don’t cheat and look at the scores before it’s time.
- Make it worthwhile. Everyone should contribute a decided amount for the winners to go and enjoy a lovely dinner of their very own. We did R100 per couple and getting R400 at the end to go and use to have a fun night out was a worthwhile prize. In hindsight, we’d probably add runner up prizes too – everyone should walk away a winner because this is so subjective, everyone tries really hard to make the evening fun.