Food & Entertaining - Party Planner

How to: Throw a fabulous dinner party on a tight budget

Saving money doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your sense of style. Throw a dinner party that’s chic and stylish and doesn’t break the bank.

Good food, good wine, good conversation -- that's what makes a great gathering. And those things need not suffer in challenging economic times. You can still tighten your wallet and throw a fabulous dinner party.

"The first thing to go when economizing is fun," says Dana McCauley, a food trend expert and author of Dana's Top Ten Table. "Things like entertaining—and shoes." But that doesn’t have to be the case. While you may forgo that pair of pretty pumps, you can still enjoy the company of friends around a beautiful table with good food and money to spare.

Food for thought

It is possible to serve a three-course dinner with wine for under $100, says Dana.  At a special event in Toronto, she and her husband, chef Martin Kouprie, co-owner of the award-winning Pangaea restaurant, each prepared a delicious menu with appetizer, entree and dessert.

The trick is to look beyond the foie gras and filet mignon. Simple, well-chosen quality ingredients are all you need to create an outstanding menu. "Pork shoulder is a wonderful economical cut of meat and extremely versatile," says Martin, who featured it in his Asian oven BBQ pork. Ground sirloin is another great option, adds Dana, who created a faux mignon of blue cheese-stuffed beef patties. "Burgers are going to be so big this year because of the economy." 

Martin's Japanese roadhouse-inspired menu also included green mango and rice noodle lettuce cups as a starter and pound cake with green tea syrup and candied lemon zest as dessert. Dana's Canadian bistro-themed meal offered an appetizer of steamed mussels and pear tarte tatin as the finishing touch.

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