Kitchen Talk - The French Lunch Blog
5 Christmas Catering Tips to Keep You Organized
Christmastime can be quite hectic. Especially if you're planning a Christmas event that includes catering — always plan ahead to avoid the holiday rush, no matter the size of your event, venue, or guest list. We've written this article to help you avoid any potential party disasters. Here are five major tips to remember when organizing your 2017 Christmas party.
1. Write out your guest list in advance. Know how many guests you're inviting well before your event, and try not to make too many changes to it. This will help you keep control of your expenses, especially if you have a budget to stick too. Send out invitations well in advance so that your guest list stays concrete.
2. Figure out your venue. Where will the event take place? Your home, a banquet hall, your company's headquarters, your store, a public institution, or elsewhere? What's the maximum capacity of the venue, and what safety features does it have? This is very important if you're inviting more than 20 guests. Fitting too many people into too small an area is just asking for trouble. Not only will your venue be unsafe, but your guests will end up unhappy.
3. Search for a reputable caterer with a decent turnaround time. Only hire licensed caterers that can actually produce a license for you if you ask them to (of course!). A licensed kitchen equals safe dining, and you definitely don't want to get your guests sick. No caterer should be cooking out of a house's basement, that's for sure!
Turnaround times should be set at a minimum of 48 hours. This allows for the freshest possible meals in a short time frame. Any more, and your party will be running late. Any less, and the caterer might not be able to guarantee the quality (or appearance) of your catered meals.
4. Use decorative Christmas platters to keep guests entertained. If children will be attending your event, you'll certainly want to keep them happy, or risk dealing with a lot of cranky kids. Stressed-out parents, too. Crêpe, chocolate fondue, smoked salmon, or meat platters, as well as cheeseboards, are a great way to please guests until the hot entrée arrives.
It's also possible to create an impressive, Christmas-themed buffet for colleagues and business partners out of platters. Some foods can be stylized into your company's logo, complete with festive holly, miniature Christmas trees, and wreath signs labeling each food on the walls. All of this serves to emphasize your company's professionalism, and increases brand awareness. They'll remember your grandiose feast and compare it to other ones next Christmas!
5. Create a schedule for your event and stick to it. At most Christmas events, guests will be drinking and merrymaking, which is what you want to happen, of course. But don't let this merrymaking get in the way of your serving times. Always set a clear beginning and end time for your event — not just for your sake, but for everyone's. A lot of us linger around because we feel awkward leaving before everyone else.
That doesn't have to be the case. Especially at a professional or formal event. Think carefully about when your guests will be networking — when appetizers are served, or after dessert? — and take it from there. You can even appoint a specific time for introductions, say, 30 minutes before the event.
Divide your event into three categories: appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Then allot minutes to each. When will you serve appetizers, and how long will they be out for? Do this for each meal. The more control you have over the experience, the more enjoyable your guests will find it.
Follow these steps, and your future Christmas parties are bound to go smooth & be swell.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas,
— French Lunch
5 Things You Need to Ask Your Caterer
If you're in need of catering for a large event you planned from ground-up, you'll need a reliable caterer to help you plan the culinary side of your event, from portion sizes to courses, dietary needs, and delivery. These five major questions will help you get started on figuring out what you need to know about your potential caterer.
1. Will your meals match the formality of my event? A pretty straightforward question. Determine how formal your event is. If your event is a birthday, baby shower or bridal party with a business casual, or more informal dress code and venue, you can get away with serving junk foods. But an engagement party, networking event, or corporate meeting will require more formal fare.
Meals that require utensils are generally a good idea. You'll want to keep your hands free of food for handshakes, after all. But you'll have to account for extra forks, knives, plates, and other kitchenware, unless your caterer provides those things at an extra cost. Never use paper or plastic utensils for formal events.
2. How flexible are you? Is your caterer willing to adapt to your dietary requirements? Reputable caterers will offer you gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian options. In terms of deadlines and delivery, reliable caterers will provide you with an exact turnover time for standard orders, the minimum being 48 hours. Some caterers will even provide free delivery to certain areas, like French Lunch does.
3. How is the food being prepared? Ensure that the food your caterer is preparing is being prepared fresh, and separately from other foods, if you're worried about allergies. Every reputable caterer will do this once you notify the business of your dietary requirements. As mentioned above, caterers will ask for notice 24 to 48 hours prior to your event, for enough prep time.
4. Is the food coming from a licensed kitchen? Your caterer should be licensed. The food you are purchasing should not be coming out of an unlicensed kitchen, but a proper shop or restaurant, owned or rented. Licensing is done by government institutions, and guarantees the cleanliness and safety of freshly-prepared foods. You don't get any of these guarantees when you choose an unlicensed caterer cooking out of a household's kitchen. Remember, you are liable for any illness that result from an unlicensed kitchen's food at your event.
5. How much time do you need? How quickly do you need your caterer to deliver? Most formal fare requires at least 48 hours of cooking time if you want the freshest meals possible. For example, French Lunch has to marinate and slow cook the meats found in coq au vin and beef provençale for at least 24 hours, so we ask for an advance notice of 48 hours.
Ultimately, catering is a fun experience that allows you to enjoy food that you wouldn't normally eat. After all, the average catering service is licensed and follows strict regulations. You'll have to go out of your way to find one that fails to meet your standards.
Are you located in the Greater Toronto Area? Need catering in Oakville, Mississauga, or Burlington? We'll make it easy for you. Try French Lunch Catering today!
Top 5 Halloween Pantry Products
It's almost time to get spooky & scary! 👻 Booo~
Get out the jack-o-lanterns, because it's Halloween in a week. What's the key to a good Halloween? Good treats, of course! Treat yourself to amazing gourmet food products this Halloween.
Wildly Delicious Petite Maison Tapenade (Kalamata Olive & Fig). Made with Greek Kalamata olives and figs, this Mediterranean-style tapenade is a zesty take on the harvest season, and of course, Halloween. Party idea: serve with Halloween-themed crackers or plain, crunchy breads cut into shapes: ghosts, bats, pumpkins or cats!
Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup Mix. Despite its rather unforgiving and decidedly Halloween-esque name, this delicious rice ramen is made with jasmine black rice, an East and Southeast Asian specialty. Black rice contains plenty of antioxidants, so it's way better than plain old white rice. When cooked, its colour changes to a rich, deep purple... quite mesmerizing indeed! Perfect for a Halloween-themed bento. 🍱
Wildly Delicious Maple Pumpkin Butter. This delicious butter is a product we always find ourselves coming back to. It combines our favourites: autumn-appropriate maple with Halloween-friendly pumpkin! Add it to toasts and other baked goods for a tasty start to your day. Halloween party? Butter your pumpkin tarts with maple pumpkin butter for added flavour.
Rième Blood Orange Limonade. A beverage with an ominous name, but a wonderful taste. No worries, there's no blood in this, just oranges! Rième is a popular French artisan beverage brand from France, and we're pleased to make their products available here in Oakville, Ontario. Serve at Halloween parties or enjoy together with forbidden rice ramen! All Rième products are organic, GMO-free, kosher, and have natural sugars. No preservatives!
Classic Biscuit & Wafer Assortment. Tired of Halloween-themed foods? Serve these classy, classic German biscuits at your Halloween party and charm your guests. These pretty little biscuits and wafers come in different shapes, sizes, and flavours. If the little witches and wizards in your life want to hold a Halloween tea party, these biscuits are perfect.
Trick-or-treat! Let French Lunch treat you this Halloween. Grab your favourite gourmet condiments in-store, 15% off before October 31, 2017. 🎃
Top 5 Fall Condiments
When we think of fall, we usually think of coziness and change. In Canada, the maple tree is our iconic fall symbol. In that case, what better way to celebrate the maple tree's quintessential Canadianness than by creating a condiment list filled with maple products! Here are 5 maple condiments from the French Lunch pantry that'll have you feeling ready for fall!
1. Maple Pumpkin Butter (Wildly Delicious). This delicious butter is slow-cooked together with pure Canadian maple syrup, brown sugar, spices, and pumpkin purée to produce the perfect fall spread. Great for harvest dinners & Thanksgiving desserts. Add to French toast, muffins, tarts, brioche bread, and even crêpes, if you want to try something new!
2. Black Maple Magic Balsamic Vinegar (Wildly Delicious). A wonderfully Canadian twist on balsamic vinegar! Once again, Wildly Delicious combines 100% Canadian maple syrup with balsamic vinegar in a rich, sweet blend. There's a hint of mustard in there too, to pull it all together taste-wise. Create delicious sauces and glazes for meats, grilled vegetables, salad dressings, and marinades from maple vinegar. You can even serve it as a dessert, as dip for fresh fruits — apples, pumpkins, anything autumnal.
3. Fig, Date & Maple Cheese Fruit Spread (Duhaime Gourmet). This compote-like spread is made with whole ingredients. It's best served with half-baked or semi-cooked cheddar cheeses, but will taste great with other cheeses as well, like Camembert and brie. We sell brie bakers from Wildly Delicious for all your cheese-baking needs!
4. Quebec Maple Mustard (Wildly Delicious). The very thought of this tasty mustard makes us drool with hunger. Wildly Delicious is at it again with another amazing maple-infused product! A combination of Quebec dark maple syrup, white vinegar, sea salt, brown sugar, spices and mustard seeds, this is a rather thin mustard. Which means it's super easy to spread on sandwiches, use as chicken or salmon glaze, or sweet potato and apple glaze for a yummy fall dessert.
5. Maple Bacon Whipped Mustard (ELKI). This scrumptious condiment combines maple extract with smoky bacon for the tastiest whipped mustard combo ever. This is a great spread for breads: bagels, toast, sandwiches, hot dogs, grilled burgers, etc. You can even spread it on glazed or smoked ham for extra smoked meat goodness. Or use it as a dip for grilled vegetables and meat skewers at BBQs.
Stay comfy and warm with French Lunch this fall. Feel hungry yet? If you do, visit us at 187 Cross Avenue for 15% off all of these condiments & more.
We look forward to feeding you,
- Nina Zaitseva
Top 5 Sweet Condiments
Got a sweet tooth? So do we. Join us as we explore our favourite sweet condiments — AKA the stuff we like to drizzle & dress our crêpes, pancakes, waffles, granola, breads, and sometimes, even our entrées with!
Hope we were able to provide you with a few examples of what types of foods go best with jams, honeys, and syrups! Breakfast and brunch are ideal for sweet condiments, but honey can be used to glaze meats and some vegetables for extra taste. Mmmm... 🤤
Onto the list!
1. Martelli White Truffle Honey. The humble white truffle is the rarest truffle (our favourite fungi!) of all. So why not add it to honey? This Italian white truffle honey will have you singing praises to both truffles and honey. Combining sweetness with earthiness for an all-natural taste, this is certainly one combination mother nature can't help but approve of. It's extra healthy honey! Here are some ideas: truffle honey French toast, truffle honey in your coffee or tea, or brie with truffle honey for when you want to feel swanky.
2. Nude Bee Honey Co. Wildflower Honey. Nude bee honey bares all. It's Canadian, it's completely natural, and best of all, it's raw, meaning that this honey isn't processed in any way. It's collected from Ontario bee farms and sold in a small container. Raw honey has immense benefits as an anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant & anti-viral food. It's also great for people struggling with seasonal pollen allergies. Support Ontario bees. Buy Nude! Drizzle pancakes with raw honey, or use it to glaze vegetables and meats, like carrots, chicken and pork.
3. Bonne Maman Quince Jelly. Bonne Maman is a French preserves company famous for its jams and jellies. This jelly uses the quince, a fruit similar to the pear, which is grown throughout Europe. Quince is a great source of vitamin C, iron, and copper, all needed moderate amounts to maintain the body's functions.
4. Wildly Delicious Maple Pumpkin Butter. Combining our favourites — maple syurp, pumpkin, and butter — into the perfect sweet condiment, it's maple butter! This is an excellent back-to-school breakfast butter for kids (or adults) that love pumpkin spice. Love your pumpkin spice lattes? Why not spice up muffins, toast, tarts, and other warm, bread-based foods with maple butter? Experimenting is worth it.
5. Wildly Delicious Brandied Cherry Butter. Cherries are combined with brandy, apples, red wine vinegar, and spices for a premium taste. This is an adult's gourmet condiment. Add to toast, eat with aged cheeses and eat with plain biscuits or small breads like prosciutto. Cherry butter deserves a place on your cheese board.
What's your favourite? Although we only covered five sweet condiments, rest assured, we have many others in stock, too. Visit our Jam, Honey & Syrup page for more information.
Remember, everything on this list is 15% off in-store, so visit us soon! 187 Cross Avenue. Be there. We'll be waiting!
We look forward to feeding you,
Top 8 Gourmet Oils, Vinegars & Mustards
From premium black truffle & organic olive oil to stout beer mustard, there are just so many Oils, Vinegars & Mustards in our pantry to enjoy and experiment with. In this article, we present our recommendations to gourmet newbies and veterans alike. All condiments come with a 15% discount if you buy them in-store. Offer ends August 31, 2017. Don't miss out!
Black Truffle Olive Oil & White Truffle Olive Oil. Anyone desiring gourmet fare will want truffle oil in their pantry. Truffles have an earthy and uniquely pungent flavour. Dress salads, fried foods like fries and poutine, steaks, and more with truffle oil. P.S. white truffles are rarer than black truffles — surprise a gourmet lover in your life with Mussini white truffle oil!
Organic Olive Oil. This organic extra virgin olive oil from Córdoban Finca Duernas is made with hand-picked Spanish green olives. With hints of almond mixed in, it's full of antioxidants, and has a refreshingly fruity taste. A perfect fit for health-conscious individuals!
Herbs de Provence Oil. This lovely herb oil from French artisan oil company La Tourangelle is GMO-free, healthy and aromatic. Here, rosemary and thyme are infused with highly oleic sunflower oil. If you don't have fresh herbs on hand, this amazing Provencal oil will get the job done!
Páez Morilla Pedro Ximénez Sherry Vinegar. This is a nutty and aromatic vinegar has hints of aged oak in it, since sherry is fermented in oak caskets. Sherry vinegar is a gourmet staple, like truffle oil. It's also surprisingly hard to find! This variant is made with Spanish Pedro Ximénez grapes. Just one drop is enough for chicken and meat dishes, salmon, and salads.
Maple Balsamic Vinegar. If you're into gourmet, then you'll know about the latest foodie trend: balsamic reduction. This maple balsamic vinegar from Wildly Delicious is ideal for deglazing, reductions, marinades, dressings, and grilled meats. Dress BBQ kebabs and skewers with this hearty vinegar and enjoy!
Stout Beer Mustard. Wildly Delicious is back at it again with this unique beer-flavoured mustard. Mmmm. Goes amazingly well with sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, fries... insert your favourite savoury junk food here. As an aside: If you love beer you need to try our Cheddar Beer Soup!
Lemon & Chives Mustard. This mustard is tangy and lip-smackingly good. This is truly a blend made in heaven: zesty lemons meet oniony chives. You'll want to lick this off a spoon before spreading it on sandwiches!
Triple Crunch Mustard. Kozlik's has truly outdone themselves with this harmonious mix of mustard seeds, Canadian whiskey, and honey. Not to mention, garlic and spices! Use on dinner dishes like pork roasts, duck, and seafood.
Pick up these ingredients in-store and we'll knock 15% off the original price. Which one's your favourite? Visit 187 Cross Avenue more affordable gourmet and frozen fresh gourmet meals!