24 January 2010

10 Trends in Savvy Entertaining (for 2010)

(French Cheese&Wine arrangement 
Already in January, we see a shift in the focus, style and flair of entertaining for this year.  People are looking to enjoy time together and to appreciate what's good in our lives.
    We've been giving this some thought ~ here's what's top of mind for The Savvy Host's entertaining in 2010.
    (1) Revisiting the Cocktail Hour - it's the bewitching hour that transitions you from hectic worklife to relaxed socializing.  We see it taking back it's place as a significant part of entertaining.  Key players in the cocktail hour will be some refreshing twists on old traditions ~ White Cosmopolitan, Rose Royale ~ availability of nonalcoholic options ~ and even greater diversity of microbrews and craft beers.  21 Must Try Classic Cocktail Recipes at The Intoxicologist is a good place to start. 

    (Photo credit: Antonis Achilleos, Elle Decor)
    (2) Fresh means seasonal - more and more we see fresh and natural ingredients for menu and for decor shifting with what is seasonally available.  Taking advantage of what's best in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter requires a little creativity, but is worth it in terms of taste and diversity.
    (Artichoke arrangement www.crateandbarrel.com)

    (3) Only Wines We Love - a $10 bottle of wine is still a waste of $10 if you don't like the taste.  We see savvy hosts and guests opting for value ~ and willing to savor what they truly enjoy rather than swigging carafes of something less than desirable.  This doesn't rule out consideration of inexpensive wines.  We love our Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon (~$15) and our Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay (~$12).   The point is to find what you enjoy - and to savor it!

    (4) Eclectic Gatherings - getting together will take on a variety of formats in 2010 as savvy hosts optimize what they have in the way of time and budget for entertaining.  Dessert bars, tea time, cheese & wine events, games & pizza nights, and lazy afternoon BBQs will flourish - along with many other creative ideas.

    (5) Back to Basics with Traditional Recipes - comfort foods give the feeling of being warm, safe and loved.  Many times, these traditional recipes involve inexpensive ingredients as well - think Pot Roast (epicurious.com), Meatballs (Bon Appetit), Cincinnati Chili (Saveur), Southern Fried Chicken (Fine Cooking).  We see these basics continuing to play a key role in entertaining this year.

    (6) Plate Geometry ~ Veggies Taking Over the Neighborhood - for 2010, we will embrace Ellie Krieger's "The New Geometry of the Plate" (Fine Cooking) and share the majority of "plate real estate" with the vegetables for a healthier serving style.

    (7) Mix & Match Guests - entertaining offers the opportunity to reconnect ~ we see this in terms of mixing and matching friends & business colleagues at gatherings.  Don't be surprised at the diversity of connections and interests at the next dinner or cocktail party you attend.  And don't be afraid to mix it up at your next gathering!  All we know is that good business grows from great relationships...why not use a little entertaining to support economic renewal?

    (Photo credit White House Flickr.com)
    (8) Decor - Strong, Natural & Impressive - there is renewed interest in strong, basic elements for dining decor, tabletop and home ambiance.  From the simplicity of potted green grass or herbs ~ or a centerpiece of artichokes ~ to the whimsy of crocodile salt & pepper shakers intricately playing on the table ~ to the beauty of cascading lemons brightening the entryway.  Functional and sometimes whimsical shapes and forms will take priority - along with an emphasis on natural materials and elements.  This seems to be an intentional move away from opulence and over-the-top extravagance as we refocus on the beauty of basics and essentials...

    (9) Where to invest? Quality Kitchen Tools! - the best way to play up the amazing ingredients you are preparing is with the right kitchen and cooking tools.  Invest in the slow-cooker ~ mandoline ~ zester ~ chicken roaster or other cookware needed to make menu preparation fun and to get the most out of your kitchen efforts!

    (10) Restaurants are a Cultural Center - from wine demos to baconfest (The Publican), from specialty menus celebrating "Truffles (Vie Restaurant)" to chef's tables, we see our favorite restaurants becoming a favorite cultural center for gourmet interests.  We take cooking classes, guest bar-tend and join CSAs through our favorite dining out locations.  We see this trend continuing to support "foodie" interests by offering a combination of cultural entertainment with exceptional cuisine.
      (Crocodile salt & pepper shakers available from www.TableArtOnline.com)
      Overall, we see 2010 as a time of renewal ~ giving every savvy host an opportunity to refocus their entertaining on what matters most - bringing people together in enjoyable surroundings ~ offering good food & drink ~ sharing stories, ideas, laughter, .. life.

      What do you see as your entertaining priorities and interests in 2010?

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