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Some dinner parties require a more formal protocol. For example, a military dinner will have strict guidelines as to where personnel will sit. If you are hosting a client dinner, you might also prefer a more formal arrangement. Even in a casual setting, you can choose to follow protocol to honor a special guest. The below description is based on a social party (vs. business), a rectangular table, and includes both men and women:

When hosting a dinner party, where you place your guests around the table is a crucial element for the success of your event. You presumably put thought into who you invited to the gathering. Do not stop there. The placement of each person around the table is something that should not be thrown together at the last minute.

I love entertaining friends and family in my home, especially during the holidays. But I must admit, it can be a bit overwhelming hosting a dinner party in the stage of life with little ones running around. The cooperation I receive from my toddlers is a significant factor in how efficient I am on a daily basis. Add in hosting a party, and it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself wanting to gather friends for a festive evening, here are my tried-and-true tips for entertaining with young children:

Planning a party can be fun, but do you know the best way to ensure everything runs smoothly? Have a rehearsal for your party. Yes, you heard correctly. You have spent a great deal of time planning your theme, creating your guestlist, and delivering your invitations. Now is the time to do a mock rehearsal which will allow you to create an action list of outstanding items around your home that might need attention. It also helps solidify any last-minute details.

These thirteen tips will get your through any dinner party. Here is a quick refresher. 

1. Leave The Cocktail Glass Behind:

If you are attending a dinner party, there may be cocktails offered before the meal begins. When the hostess signals it is time to head to the dining room, leave your drink behind. Why? The dining table has been pre-set with the glasses you will need and adding another to your place setting will only clutter the minimal real estate in front of you. Your palate is another reason to leave the cocktail behind. Many hostesses go to great lengths to pare wine with the food being served. Once seated at the table it is time to switch to wine or water.

You just received an invitation to a party, and the attire says: Shabby Chic; Razzle Dazzle; Cowboy Couture. What??? Word to hostesses: when listing the attire on the invitation for a party, make it clear. We do not want our guests to solve a riddle to understand what is expected of them. There is a phrase I like to quote, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

Table manners are the area in which I receive the most questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in managing an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction. Even if you are unsure, most people do not care.

When attending a party, there are certain expectations we have of our hostess. We appreciate everything she has done, but we do assume there will be food, drinks, a clean bathroom, and a home that does not smell like the local pet store. What some people forget is there are also expectations of the guest. When a hostess plans a party, a great deal of time is spent deciding who she will invite. What group of friends go well together?

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party looking scared, so unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screamed, “I wish I was anywhere but here!”

You are invited!!! There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP. Follow the six steps below and the hostess will be singing your praises!

  • Alina Gersib

Patatas Bravas Taste Test



Happy Foodie Friday! This recipe comes courtesy of Penny and Eleazar Martinez.

www.thefrankincensetree.com

info@thefrankincensetree.com

Each of our Taste Test Reviews comes with the original recipe and the tester's notes/changes listed with the ingredient list in blue. We hope you enjoy!


Oh my goodness are these delicious. The Bravas sauce was a tasty addition that I never would have thought to add to potatoes. It provides a rich smokey flavor to the dish that is spectacular. I did not think the Patatas Bravas could be better until I sampled the wine along with it. The hint of pepperiness along with the fruitiness of the wine complimented this tapas beautifully.


A word of caution, when you heat up the oil to hot for frying the potatoes, be incredibly cautious putting them back in. The oil splashes more than you would imagine and oil burns are not fun. Though there is plenty of oil in the pan to crisp the potatoes, it is still hotter on the bottom. In order to get uniform crispiness I recommend flipping them halfway. I found that tongs made this easiest.


Patas Bravas
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Makes 6 servings

Preparation Time: 35 Minutes

Cooking Time: 10 Minutes


Ingredients for the Potatoes:

*4 medium potatoes

*Olive oil (for frying, about 1-2 cups)

*Salt

*1/2 cup of homemade bravas sauce (recipe below)


Ingredients for the Bravas Sauce:

*1/3 cup of olive oil

*1 teaspoon of pimentón picante (hot smoked paprika)

*2 teaspoon of pimentón dulce (sweet smoked paprika)

*1 tablespoon flour

*1 cup of chicken broth

*Salt to taste



Preparation for the Bravas Sauce:

*Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

*Remove the pan from the burner before it starts to smoke.

*Add the pimentón picante and pimentón dulce, and stir until they form a paste.

*Stir in the flour until combined. (My sauce was still quite runny so I ended up adding a little more flour until it thickened nicely.)

*Add the broth little by little, stirring constantly, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.

*Season with salt to taste.

*Once potatoes are cooked, pour sauce over fried potatoes and enjoy!


Preparation for the Potatoes:

*Peel the potatoes, rinse thoroughly, and dry with a paper towel.

*Cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks.

*Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

*Add the potatoes and adjust the heat to the lowest setting, allowing them to pre-cook for a few minutes.

*Remove the potatoes and let them cool in the refrigerator for a few more minutes.

*Turn the heat up to high and add the potatoes back into the pan. (Be super careful. The hot oil splashes like crazy when you add the potatoes.)

*Fry until crispy and golden. (I cooked mine in two batches for about 5 minutes each, flipping halfway through.)

*Transfer the potatoes to a plate lined with paper towels to cool, and sprinkle with salt to taste.

*To serve, drizzle the bravas sauce over the potatoes.


This dish was featured along with two others in a Tapas spread. For the full experience be sure to try the others!

Crab and Mango Salad

Orange-Oregano Crusted Lamb Rack with Horseradish Sauce


Recipe and Taste Tester - Alina Gersib