The secret to hosting a distinctive get together is paying attention to the details. Let the team at The Butler’s Pantry help with everything from wine to menu planning, as well as providing serving staff and additional furniture …
There’s something magical about the lingering, light-filled evenings in August and early September – the perfect time to organise a catch up with friends and family as they return from holidays and are not yet caught up in the busyness of winter schedules. Throwing an elegant soirée needn’t be arduous. No host wants to be trapped in a hot kitchen and, with a little preparation and foresight, the evening can be set up, so you are free to relax and mingle.
Whether you would like to keep your evening simple with some elegant canapés or put on a fabulous buffet, the dedicated Event Manager at The Butler’s Pantry, Karolina Kerrigan, can help with every step of planning a fun-filled celebration. The Butler’s Pantry can also provide chefs, serving staff and furniture on the day if required.
As for the menu ideas, these change with the seasons and reflect customers’ tastes and requirements, and produce sourced from small Irish and artisan producers. All dishes are made in The Butler’s Pantry kitchen in Bray.
To get a soirée underway, serving a speciality drink – for example, your own Limoncello Spritz or Negroni – will undoubtedly elevate any gathering, with some tempting dips. The Butler’s Pantry can provide these as well as pâtés such as Smoked Salmon and Goatsbridge Trout, to Baba Ganoush or Avocado Hummus. Posh canapés are also a forte; these can be ordered by the two dozen (€34.95). Tempting suggestions include: Ham Hock and Herb Terrine topped with pineapple gel on savoury sable biscuit; Goatsbridge Trout and Smoked Salmon Pâté Tartlet with dill Chantilly cream; Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese and Red Onion Tartlet topped with a smoked almond; Baba Ganoush and Confit Roast Cherry Tomato Tartlet; Red Pepper Risotto Arancini served with saffron aioli. Once you’ve made your selection and placed an order, all you have to do is decide on a pretty serving platter.
Moving to the main event, if serving a three-course dinner, hosts can choose from a range of starters, main courses and desserts, opting in and out as needed. These dishes require minimal preparation, other than heating in the oven. Starters range from soups, such as roasted vine tomato and basil, to fish- or corn-cakes. The wild yellow fin tuna fishcake with chilli and garlic aioli is a best-selling item.
Main course options, which serve up to six people, comprise vegetarian specials, limited editions and classic favourites such as a Chicken, Mushroom and Bacon Gratin made with Irish free-range chicken breast cooked with wild mushrooms and bacon lardons in a cider, fresh cream and tarragon sauce with a toasted hazelnut crust served with a creamy mashed potato. There’s also a Basque Pork Casserole, comprising Irish pork shoulder, chorizo and sweet red peppers, cooked in a rich tomato ragù with smoked paprika and a Chipotle Chilli served with steamed rice and the option of seasonal summer vegetables tossed in lemon butter and topped with toasted almonds.
The Butler’s Pantry’s sommelier can also suggest wine pairings which will impress even the most demanding of guests. The range of wines stocked at The Butler’s Pantry comes from small boutique vineyards where organic growers focus on natural, high quality wines using low intervention methods. Championing lesser known vineyards and grape varieties, the wine list is as delectable as the food.
Of course, let’s not forget about dessert. Whether you prefer small, delicious canapés to decadent desserts, the choice is exceptional. Dessert canapés include Chocolate, Caramel, Peanut Chocolate Cups filled with smooth caramel, whipped chocolate ganache and roasted peanuts; Mini Vanilla and Raspberry Choux Buns filled with vanilla crème pâtissière and raspberry confit; and Lemon Meringue Tartlets with tangy lemon curd, topped with torched Italian meringue and candied citrus.
For a finale, Gateau Laurence will enchant guests. This rich dark chocolate and almond cake topped with a whipped chocolate and caramel ganache, is a Gold Blas na hÉireann Award 2021. All you have to do is serve with softly whipped cream and fresh summer strawberries.
With the menu details sorted, thinking about your tablescape is next on the list. Annie Dunne, founder of AD Event Design, says: “When hosting a more sophisticated evening I always think in terms of the three Cs: colour palette, candles, and crystal. Choose your colour palette first. Blue and white is a popular choice for summer as it is fresh and vibrant and transitions well into the night for an elegant look. As for candles, I use lots for a more formal dinner. Not only does everybody look better in candlelight but the soft glow creates a romantic atmosphere. I always recommend using various heights to add depth to a tablescape. Just make sure you don’t use scented candles on the table as they will interfere with the flavours of the food – nobody wants bergamot-flavoured beef! Lastly, elegant occasions are a great opportunity to dust off family crystal and use it. Crystal glasses work brilliantly with natural light and candlelight creating shadows and an extra touch of sparkle.”
Rebecca Roe, creative director of Hedgeroe Home says, “If I want to add some sophistication to an evening table setting it is easily done with cordless lamps and linens. Linen placemats add both colour and added drama for a sophisticated evening. Lighting is also key for a more formal meal; I’ve found cordless table lamps add the perfect ambient hue, especially when mixed with some low tea lights for a magical combination. A flower arrangement is a must for a formal dinner party, and wicker urns are the perfect summer vase. I also like to coordinate my linen placemats with my plates, our hand painted blue and green leaf plates are just stunning combined with our linen placemats.”
Finally, Maria Reidy, founder of Signature Editions and her eponymous events company, says: “Our summer collections are named after places we love to visit. Create a playlist that evokes memories of sitting by the Mediterranean coast on a sun-bleached restaurant terrace. This is sure to impress and is guaranteed to raise the serotonin levels at any chic supper.”
Need to Know: The Butler’s Pantry has eleven shops around Dublin and an ever-evolving online shop. All food is prepared by its team of chefs and bakers using the best ingredients without the use of additives or preserves in its central kitchen in Bray, Co Wicklow. To discover how The Butler’s Pantry can help with all your party needs, visit www.thebutlerspantry.ie.