Jamie Pea's Dinner Party: Feasting Français

This second episode of "Jamie Pea's Dinner Parties", filmed with 咕噜GURU, continues on the theme of creating an elegant (but most importantly, fun) dinner party with these key factors:

  • A cohesive menu with a theme or thoughtful choices from start to finish
  • Food that impresses friends with its visual wow-factor, but is quite simple to make and will save you from pulling out hairs and sobbing over the stove while your friends awkwardly try to offer help/enjoy themselves at the table with the host/hostess missing.
  • Deliciousness
  • Will make you look good

I chose "French Dinner Party" for the night, because French food still clings on to a bit of cultural cachet, especially here in China where French food conjures luxuriousness, fancy pants, lit-up cobblestone streets leading to the Tour Eiffel and elegant, slim-limbed French women. I also wanted to use the traditional image of France to bring up some dinner party social pointers, presented by my good friend and celebrated Beijing networker and hostess extraordinaire, Claire Du.

In this episode, Claire shares some tips on her dinner party etiquette, which is influenced by common-sense French manners, including:

  • Don't always invite the same people; mix and match the old and new. be thoughtful about how different personalities will play off each other, which will create a more interesting evening (but of course, avoid creating a clash of personalities).
  • Separate the couples! They see enough of each other every day, so use this gathering as an opportunity to nudge people to mingle with others and create fresh conversation.
  • Seating people at the table in "boy-girl-boy-girl" fashion is a good idea; we don't want to re-create the segregation of a middle school dance floor, nor demarcate the table into girl talk and guy talk.
  • Don't talk about religion or politics.
  • Don't stress!
  • Have fun!

Watch the episode (link to come soon, as well as my video-embedding skills) on QQ and YouTube!

The Menu

Here is the menu and the accompanying recipe posts for this episode. The recipes were inspired and drawn from what I personally consider the best reference books for French cooking: Terrine, by Stéphane Reynaud; Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child; and I Know How to Cook, by Ginette Mathiot (beautifully rebound and freshly revised by Phaidon).

Rainbow Terrine

Classic Boeuf Bourguignon

A Tempting Cheese Board

Classic Tarte Tatin