Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book Review: Entertaining Simple by Matthew Mead

I always wanted to give dinner parties. That was how I saw my grown-up life: wearing hostess gowns over Capri pants, canapés served next to a fully-stocked bar ready for vodka gimlets, old-fashioned, martinis, even though I don't drink.

But in college and beyond, lack of money, time, motivation or the fact that Mary Richards and I have a lot in common when it comes to lousy dinner parties, all crushed that dream. Perhaps if I could just let go of those "Martha" and "Bree Van de Kamp" fantasies I could actually succeeded in throwing a fun, casual, yet elegant gathering. Well, I think I'm starting to feel a bit more positive because of this new book I've been reading, Matthew Mead's Entertaining Simple.

I was already aware of Matthew's work when this book arrived. His styling is all over a magazine I bring into my home already, Country Home, and his website, is a great source of decorating projects and tips, sorted according to the four seasons. I've already emailed different ideas from his site to friends and plugged one of his ideas on my other blog here.

Matt doesn't try to impress you with his visual styling skills, he truly wants to pass on his knowledge. This is clear from what he includes in his book. The recipes sound delicious, they are arranged with planned menus, and the instructions seem simple enough to put together. In fact, Matthew also tries to provide each recipe with a tip for making it even simpler, if possible.

But the best thing about this book is his idea of a entertaining stash cabinet for all of your dishes and entertaining tools. He suggests using white and clear glass and it's a genius idea. This way, everything matches, looks elegant, and allows for creativity on a cheaper scale. You can then change up the color scheme easily by using inexpensive elements such as the napkins, chargers, tablecloths, flower arrangements, and other small embellishments. However, your more expensive items, such as your sets of dinner plates, glasses, bowls, and platters are all in plain (or not so plain) white.

He also suggests including in your stash some unique shapes so that these items can be more versatile and have more uses; some practical and some purely visual. I love how he uses items in unexpected ways:

  • glass cake stand used as a holder for gifts,
  • a frozen serving platter where pre-made ice cream cones are displayed,
  • milk bottle-like containers used as individual serving containers for juice,
  • drinking glasses used to hold cookies or breadsticks,
  • or a mixing bowl set arranged to serve seafood on ice.
Oh, Matthew, how I wish to throw a party, maybe your book is exactly what I need?

1 comment: said...

Ahhh they sent to me too. Hoping to check it out this weekend.