In these days of worldwide economic decline and widespread scarcity, any food may qualify as "luxury food," and any restaurant may join the ranks of "fine dining" establishments. Surveys routinely show, when families pare away their unnecessary expenses, "eating out" numbers among the very first alleged "extravagances" they cut. No sensible person ever would argue that cutting-out restaurants and fast food saves considerable pounds-sterling, but at what emotional price? After a while, you begin to pine for an extraordinary meal properly served and consumed with appropriate savoir-faire.
To set-up your personal bargain bistro and recreate the fine dining experience in the comfort and privacy of your own home, borrow the restaurateurs' basic business formula, finding the stretch in your food budget. In order to make their payrolls and assure their profits, purveyors of fine dining fare and service take the cost of the food and triple it, rounding up to establish the menu price. If you invested three times the normal budget in one luxurious home meal, what could you create; what would you create? A fine filet mignon becomes feasible as do fresh seafood, exotic vegetables, and decadent desserts.
Add special touches to everyday fare.
Slow down and savour. At home, meals just arrive at the table-the whole meal, no "courses" or distinctions between appetizers and entrées. If you're serving the whole family, speedy delivery makes sense in preparation, consumption, and clean up. If, however, the children have gone to their grandmother's home and you are serving only the husband and yourself, then spread the dining experience elegantly across the entire evening.
Dress or sauce the dishes. Yes, a few gourmet accoutrements to a meal add expense because of their exotic imported ingredients. Most, however, earn their "gourmet" standing because of the time and precision their preparation requires. If you are not paying five-star salaries, you can afford hollandaise for your asparagus, béarnaise for your filet, raspberry vinaigrette for your salmon, or mole for your carne asada. If you are serving lamb or duck, fresh fruits quickly become spectacular glazes. Best of all, when you prepare them with whipped egg whites and fresh whipping cream, your favourite instant puddings become delectable mousses; lightly laced with liqueurs they become worthy of the Middleton sisters.
Add a fine wine.
Adding panache without adding expense, choose delectable vintages from exotic foreign places like California and Australia. The wines may not have exalted pedigrees, and they may not go from centuries-old oaken casks into custom-designed bottles; but what they lack in heritage they generally make-up in fine fruity flavour and subtle undertones. According to the experts, fine British retailers offer excellent selections from DeBortoli, Fox Gordon, and Jacobs Creek, also known as the best of the bottles brought-up from down under. Looking at California grapeware, choose your favourite flavours from Beaulieu and Beringer. In addition to their exemplary qualities, these wines ring-up for about
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