Life of the party: simple tips for easy entertaining

Nothing brings people together in celebration like a generous spread of edible delights. Pulling the cork on a bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion; assembling a slice of Manchego and a smear of fruit paste on an oatcake or cracker and devouring it in a single bite; taking turns to dunk a crudité into a pot of homemade dip… the most memorable moments with friends are those spent around a table laden with food and drinks.

Whatever the occasion, selecting a few special ingredients can upgrade a simple gathering to a proper celebration.

Here are some of our favourite festive ideas, guaranteed to get the party started with minimal fuss.

Gently simmer La Gondola anchovies and garlic in olive oil and butter, then blend together to create bagna cauda, a delicious, warm Italian dip that’s perfect with sliced raw vegetables.

Pair your favourite cheeses with some sweet muscatels on the vine, sour cornichons and Francois Doucet Fruit Jelly, made with real fruit and presented in a beautiful wooden tray.

Boost your cheese and charcuterie platter with a selection of Stag biscuits, like their Cocktail Oatcakes with Honey and Seeds, Oatcakes with Seaweed, and traditional Water Biscuits.

Drain a jar of The Essential Ingredient Mixed Olives (grown in South Australia), and toss through some gently warmed extra virgin olive oil infused with fresh garlic, rosemary and black pepper.

Keep a few tins of La Gondola’s superb range of Portuguese seafood products in the pantry in case of unexpected guests, including their stuffed squid (packed in a rich tomato sauce), Mussels in Escabeche Sauce, and their selection of patés (Whiting Roe, Spiced Tuna, Codfish, and Spiced Mackerel).

Create a simple savoury tart tartine ahead of time, then just add a few finishing touches and serve when your guests arrive. Roast slices of beetroot, turnip, carrot and other root vegetables until nearly tender. Arrange in an oven-safe dish dotted with chunks of butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar. Fill gaps with semi-dried tomatoes and Cucina Antica Baby Onions in Balsamic Vinegar, then top with a sheet of puff pastry and bake at 200 degrees Celsius until golden brown. Allow to cool, then place a plate over the pan and carefully flip the tart. When your guests arrive, simply finish with a sprinkling of salt flakes and a scattering of goat cheese and fresh thyme and serve.

For more celebratory tips and entertaining tricks, including all the essential ingredients for a memorable party, visit your nearest The Essential Ingredient store, or buy online for delivery to anywhere in Australia.

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