Food, travel, and lifestyle journalist and avid traveler, Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi has developed an undeniable talent for entertaining from an early age. In a passage in her first-ever book, Feast With Me, she recounts how she lived in an open house constantly filled with parties, dinners, and guests. She hosted her first sit-down dinner with friends when she was just nine years old. Her passion for food and entertaining carried on to this day and through Feast With Me, readers get a taste of her signature dishes, her detailed insights on wine pairings, and her tips on setting the mood. Her rich travel stories accompany readers on their own forays into entertaining. Below, we round up nuggets of wisdom from this fabulous host:
1. Entertaining at home need not be costly or fancy.
Feast With Me invites people to rethink their perceptions of dinner parties that they have to be showy. It's also not about fancy dishes and Grand Cru wines with names that are difficult to pronounce, the author notes, This book is all about enjoying good old home cooking washed down with a glass or two of nice wine with your nearest and dearest.
2. Serving pasta before the main course may not be such a good idea when it comes to Italian cuisine.
In the service tips section of the chapter on Italian cuisine, Stephanie provides insight on pasta and why she chose to exclude it from her menu. She believes that Italian cuisine is much more than just pasta and serving it ahead of other plates will fill your guests up before they even reach the main course.
3. Thereâs a perfect wine to match every type of cuisine, including Filipino.
This is a tricky one since wine is usually paired with more Western dishes but the author believes that there are several wines that can fit the bold flavor profiles of traditional Filipino dishes. She recommends the acidity and freshness of a Chenin Blanc when serving sinigang or kinilaw and an oak-aged Riojas to complement spicy and savory dishes.
4. In a Spanish service, set the mood by having the food speak for itself.
Serve your tapas in cazuelas, which the chapter describes as traditional glazed shallow terracotta bowls to recreate that Spanish atmosphere. Decorate the space with foliage reminiscent of olive branches instead of flowers.
5. Don't be afraid experiment with your dining area. Match furniture with a chosen cuisine or theme.
For a casual Indian dinner, for example, switch up your dining set and serve food on a low coffee table. Find a fabric to suit the night's color motifs and have your guests sit on the floor. Vibrant marigolds will also make a wonderful centerpiece.
6. When estimating how much food to prepare, consider the time of the get-together, the occasion, and the flow of the meal.
Stephanie's rule of thumb is to serve about 100 to 200 grams of protein per person. "I tend to eyeball it and think of how much one could really eat half cup of this and a scoop of that." She tends to add a little more than what is enough and is always happy to eat leftovers the next day.
She also likes to consider who is coming, what the occasion is, and how the meal will flow. There's also the time of the event. "You wouldn't prepare as much for merienda as you would for lunch or dinner," she adds.
7. Gauge whether or not it would be suitable to serve an experimental dish.
Stephanie does her share of trying out new recipes when her busy schedule permits her to, but she usually serves these dishes to friends who are regulars at her her house. "If you're a first timer you can be certain you'll get served one of my classics," she says. "It's also fun to do one household favorite let's say as a main, then experiment with the starter or a side dish."
Feast With Me is available at National Book Store branches nationwide.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountry.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.