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other recent host articles:
o Floorplan for a Fab Fête
o Beyond the Basic Bar
o The Fine Art of Finger Foods
Crash Course in Wine
soiree society: The Perfect Cast

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Menu... please?
how to plan a perfect dinner party menu |
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Where to head for inspiration
So you’ve looked through the cookbooks, browsed your local farmer’s market, and still feel stumped as to how to pull together a cohesive menu for your soiree? Choose a theme and you’ll find your menu falls right into place. Some ideas to get you started …

1) Go globe-hopping – it’s a big, big world out there and you’ll find a fabulous diversity of cuisines with which you can experiment. Do a Japanese night and an obvious menu might be sushi or tempura with miso soup, maybe seaweed salad. Thinking Spanish? Try paella, an assortment of tapas, all paired with a big pitcher of Sangria or a bottle of Rioja. Craving Ethiopian? Then it’ll be injera bread with some spicy stews. Browse the cookbook section at your neighborhood bookstore behemoth for some ideas, or hunt down some recipes on the web. Some good sites to search for recipes by cuisine include allrecipes, globalgourmet, and SOAR.

2) There’s no place like home -- On the other hand, you may want to introduce your friends to the foods you grew up eating, which may seem like basic comfort foods to you, but may very well strike others as exotic. My Louisiana-bred friend Kim has thrown a couple of delectable dinner parties featuring the foods she most misses from her homestate – hearty gumbos, seafood étouffée, boudin (a Cajun sausage), and plenty of Louisiana-brewed beer. One of my favorite parties to throw is a Chinese dumpling party, where we all sit around folding and pleating those tasty little bites, just like I’d do with my Mom and my brothers growing up.

3) Play Iron Chef – If you haven’t yet seen this hilarious Japanese cooking show on the Food Network, find someone who has cable and check it out immediately. At any rate, if you’re up for a cooking challenge, do a little Iron Chef-style meal yourself: pick an ingredient, any ingredient (okay, maybe not any), and use it in each stage of your meal, from salad to appetizer to entrée to dessert (use it in dessert at your own discretion … they’ve concocted some mighty iffy-sounding sweets on that show).

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