As the darker nights draw in and we say goodbye to balmy summer evenings, it's time to welcome a new wave of cooking and styling for your dinner parties. We teamed up with wedding and event caterers Doggart & Squash to create the ultimate Autumn Dinner party. Read on for the menu, table styling tips and floral inspiration.
What better way to set the tone and kick start your party than with seasonal cocktails and delicious bites. A spiced pear gin cocktail is perfectly warming yet refreshing, the perfect autumnal aperitif.
Spiced Pear Gin Cocktail
20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
20ml Spiced Pear Sugar Syrup*
50ml pear juice
Soda water, to top up
Sprig of thyme & cinnamon stick to garnish
*For the Spiced Pear Sugar Syrup:
200g caster sugar
1 pear, cored and cut into pieces
3 star anise
2 cardamom pods
For the pear syrup simply add the water, sugar, pear, star anise and cardamom pods to a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat and gently stir for about five minutes or until the sugar and pears have dissolved and you have a syrup.
Strain the liquid into a jar and allow to cool completely before using.
To prepare your cocktail, fill a shaker with ice. Add your gin, lemon juice, pear juice and spiced pear syrup. Shake until the shaker becomes frosty. Strain into your cocktail glass. Top up with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and/or a star anise, and serve.
Seared Fillet Beef with Bearnaise Sauce, served on an Olive Wood Platter by Paxton & Whitfield
Quince & Goats Curd on a Fennel Garibaldi, served on a Wingfield & Digby Large Table Centre in Green Pheasant Feather
Cornish Mackeral Tartar with Dill & Capers on a Charcoal Cracker, served on a Wingfield & Digby Large Table Centre in White Pheasant Feather
Soft, tonal colours and textures were the brief for our Autumn table. A sort of 'in-limbo' season, we wanted to work with colours and textures that are reminiscent of the summer months, but that are also appropriate for those chillier longer evenings. We wanted to avoid the obvious autumn colour pallette of reds, oranges and yellows, instead creating something a little more unexpected.
A beautiful textured forest green tablecloth from Himla was the foundation for the table, with natural creasing creating a relaxed feel.
Next, rattan placemats from Oka added more texture and some height to the table. We love these placemats as they are the definition of trans-seasonal; there's no reason why your everyday items can't work across any season, simply make them more relevant by making clever floral and candle choices.
Keeping some texture, dinner and side plates were the Kropka range by Oka. Lovely and informal but dressed up to feel formal in this particular setting.
When it comes to choosing cutlery for your wedding list, we are advocates for choosing timeless designs over of-the-moment designs. A true investment, choose well and you will use and love this present for a lifetime. Traditionalists at heart, we will always covet the classic design of Fiddle by Glazebrook.
Beautiful linen napkins from Himla in 'Silence' were loosly knotted and placed on top of the plate. A lovely informal touch to a formal table (and a great excuse to get away with not ironing napkins!)
We chose timeless yet contemporary wine glasses from our beloved supplier Schott. The Vina collection is one of our most-loved wine glass ranges and is an ever popular choice for our engaged couples for their wedding lists.
Warmth to the overlook comes from beautiful tortoise-shell water tumblers from Oka.
More texture was added thank to stunning real duck and pheasant feather glass-topped coasters from Wingfield & Digby.
Sterling silver candle sticks of various heights were chosen for their timeless finish but also to create a sense of intrigue on the table. In our humble opinion you really cannot go wrong with a silver candlestick - it's the sort of wedding present that you'll love forever and that will forever be in vogue.
Seared Venison with Roasted Hedgerow Blackberries, Pomme Anna and Rainbow Chard.
Deliciously seasonal and using all British sourced ingrediets, Doggart & Squash deliver the goods on this hearty and warming main course. A great choice for a dinner party - the Venison can be seared in advance and the Pomme Anna can be made a day in advance.
Served here on Marie Daage Raffia Dinner Plate.
Slanted Panna Cotta with Spiced Apple Compote, Apple Crisp & Toffee Shard.
Spiced to perfection this dessert is warming, creamy and the ultimate way to finish your dinner party. Create the entire dish in advance and leave to chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
Arguably sometimes the best bit of a dinner party... Round off the evening with a expertly crafted Espresso Martini and a Salted Chocolate Brownie Bite.
Kuka Coffee Cold Brew is a brilliant way to whip up a top-notch Espresso Martini in no time, guaranteeing that perfect froth when shaken over ice with Vanilla Vodka and Kahlua.
Stationery, flowers and candles are the perfect way to make your tablescape seasonal. Here you can have some serious fun with colour without committing to a long-term purchase.
When it comes to stationery, whether its for a wedding, an event or simply just a lovely dinner party there's no one we trust more than the amazing Ellie from ERA Calligraphy. Ellie has impeccable taste and can work to a brief, or (and this is the option we prefer) will come up with some brilliant ideas and concepts for something truly unique. For this tablescape she designed and printed beautiful menus on textured paper with simple serif and sans serif fonts. Backed with decadent forest green card it was the perfect stylish autumnal touch.
Ellie is also a dab hand at modern calligraphy and her ability to create a variety of fonts is second to none. For this tablescape she kept it simple and stylish with forest green ink on white card.
Doggart & Squash have a wonderful in-house florist - Lex Hamilton - who delivered some serious magic on the table. Beautiful rich, earthy colours were popped with magenta pink and coral orange for a totally unique and unexpected finish. Presented in beautiful urns in the centre of the table, they provided a real wow-factor.
Coloured candles done well can be a seriously chic addition to your table, and our go-to supplier is Ester & Erik. With their unique tapered shape and beautiful colour options, they never disappoint. Here we chose no. 42 - Dreu for a soft, grey lilac finish to compliment the greens and silvers of the rest of the table.