How to eat like the French

So earlier this summer I planned what was supposed to be a surprise dinner party for one of my bests. She’s too dang sneaky and figured it out. However, the theme itself and the menu turned out great! We all dressed up, and even bought a dress for the birthday girl so it was waiting when she came over (she thought she was coming for girls night…low key, yoga pants kind of thing…rightttt)

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Her birthday was in September when Chicago weather is still iffy and can be a nice Indian Summer type night or a chilly night resembling nothing of summer. We gambled that it would be nice out and it was. So we set up an 8ft folding table and threw some bedsheets (they were clean- don’t judge) nice linen tablecloths on. Put out candles galore, and my favorite touch was the Bistro style lights which one of our friends and Mr. Flik put up. They hung nicely above the table and gave off nice light, but mostly just set the theme perfectly.

Inside, we set out appetizers. We did cheese trays with fruits, nuts, and bread. You can check out an example of this style tray on my Instagram account: Cheese

The Dinner Menu:
Starters – French Onion Soup (made from scratch, recipe here)
French Garden Salad: Mixed greens, with very thinly sliced radishes and carrots*, grilled asparagus, goat cheese, lemon zest, salt & pepper and a garlic vinaigrette.
*(I used an Oxo Mandoline Slicer for this- or what my sister’s call the “Eight ways to cut yourself tool’)

As you can see below, we did place cards with French prefixes, and a menu with “Joyeux Anniversaire” (Happy Birthday in French) at the top with the rest of the menu and and icon that said “Paris is always a good idea” at the bottom.

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Then to be extra fancy we did a citrus sorbet palate cleanser before serving the main course.

Champagne & Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hens (I combined a few recipes so there really isn’t an exact recipe. But I put them all in a turkey roasting pan, melted a bunch of butter and poured that all over them until they were well covered. Then I doused them in champagne, stuffed a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme in the cavity of each one, bunch of garlic (like a bunch), salt & pepper, and squeezed lemon all over that. Toss in the oven at 350 for an hour. Baste them once, if they’re getting too browned on top put a little foil over each one.

Haricots Verts (which are ever so similar to green beans) just butter those babies up and throw some salt and pepper on ’em and you’re good.
Potatoes Au Gratin (our friend made them, they were super yummy – but I don’t have his recipe – I’m pretty sure it’s a big secret, so here’s one that seems good.)

Along with our group of friends, the birthday girl’s mom and aunt helped us pull the whole thing off! They brought desserts from a local bakery. Chocolate filled croissants and some cookies. And what birthday would be complete without a cake?! We had a yellow cake filled with Grand Marnier chocolate buttercream, frosted with chocolate ganache.  Talk about delightful!

I was going for a warm and romantic feel so we put a lot of flowers and candles out along with some cute Paris/French themed signs.

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The top left is us enjoying dinner. Top right is the Champagne bar we set up with different kinds of champagne/wines to try.
The bottom left is of one of the cheese trays, and bottom right is the apps/dessert table.

Other small touches were napkins from the party store with French sayings and flowers on them, a cute Eiffel Tower miniature for the table, and lace table runners. For more ideas check out the Pinterest board we made while planning.

Here’s a fun little time lapse of our dinner!

Have any other fun French Dinner Party ideas? Comment below!


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