Q) What kind of chocolate do you use?
Q) Are you Italian?
A) I am not of Italian descent, just a lover of Italian food and style!
Q) Where can I get a cocktail hat?
If your find yourself in New Orleans, be sure to visit Fleur de Paris in the French Quarter. They have a stunning selection of cocktail hats!
Q) I'm hosting a dinner party, should I have a seating plan and place cards for the guests?
A) Although this is a personal choice, and of course the relative formality of the gathering as well as the size may dictate the answer, I am a firm believer in assigned seating. (I sometimes don't get around to place cards for smaller groups, but I'm still a strong supporter!) I didn't have a view on this subject five years ago. For our wedding, some dear friends hosted a beautiful outdoor supper at their gorgeous home for the wedding guests that had already arrived. The wife of the couple called me a few days before and asked for help on the seating. I had asked her if she thought it was necessary. This woman, who is an incredible hostess and amazingly stylish patiently explained that when you've gone to the trouble of all the other aspects of a dinner or a party, the finishing touch is the seating. If really will make your guests more comfortable- this is because there is a designated place for everyone and no one will feel like they got a 'bad seat' because your plan should maximize people's personalities and improve their dinner party experience! If you have a friend who just went on an interesting trip, seat them next to someone who would appreciate hearing about it! If two guests have something in common, like enjoying a certain sport or hobby, why not seat them next to each other? They'll leave your event feeling not only that they had a great time, but that a lovely new acquaintance was made.
Q) We've been invited to a dinner party. What should I bring?
A) The best way to handle what to bring to a dinner party is to be respectful of the host and hostess's wishes. If it is a potluck, bring the wonderful creation that you were asked to bring! Unless the hostess has agreed, it is best to bring the category of dish you were originally asked- if you were asked to bring a main course, don't bring a salad or a dessert instead. If you aren't comfortable with what you were assigned and your talents lie in another category, communicate! Your friends will want you to feel happy and comfortable and they will want to eat what you are comfortable making. If the event is not a potluck, you are not obligated to bring anything to eat, but a nice hostess gift would be thoughtful. This is often a bottle of wine or something sweet for the hosts to enjoy on another occasion. If you brought a bottle of wine and are disappointed that it is not being opened for this occasion, the intent of that is not to diminish your generous gift, but most likely the wine was already chosen and possibly decanted before you arrived. Hosts often give very careful thought to their cocktails and wine to be served with their meal. They will undoubtedly enjoy your tasteful selection on another occasion and think of you with affection.
Q) What do I do with my napkin when I leave the table? What do I do with it when I am finished eating?
A) If you need to leave the table and you are not finished eating, your napkin should be left folded on the seat of your chair. In some restaurants, waiters may refold it and place it back on the table for you, but they understand what you have communicated and are simply being gracious, not correcting you. If you are finished eating, place your napkin, neatly, but not folded, on the table to the left of your place setting. This should only be done when you are finished and leaving the table.