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European fine dining vs. dining at home

Fine dining with european crystal. Role of wine glasses, centerpieces, candleholders, vases, bowls at a fine dinner.

Table of contents
Fine dining drinks
Fine dining glassware
Small sparkling specialities
The ideal decanter
Fine Dining atmosphere
Enchanting Candles
Fine Dining Menu
Fine food in a wonderful setting, with greatest attention to details. What are the characteristics of fine dining? The aim of this article is to introduce crystal fans the art of high dining and help to provide a fine dining experience for home.
Wikipedia defines fine dining as „The a phrase that is used to describe restaurants that creates an overall superior dining experience. The experience can start with the location and the view. The interior of such restaurants is often quite elegant and designed in accordance with the restaurant's concept. Service attempts to be impeccable, with chefs and service crew typically hailing from the best culinary schools.
Restaurant fitting the fine dining label are normally highly rated; in the four star range and will provide better service and higher quaility food than a standard sit-down restaurant.
A carefully selected fancy restaurant may be a perfect place for a dinner, however following some basic guidelines an average person who may not afford a dinner out at Aragawa in Tokyo, Arpége in Paris, Egensinn Farm in Toronto, Sketch-The Lecture Room and Library in London, Petermann"s Kunststuben in Zürich, Tetsuya’a Restaurant in Sydney, Vitrum in Berlin, Steirereck in Vienna and Yamazato in Amsterdam etc… can make dinner at home at least as pleasant as dinner out.
Basic guidelines to be followed:
- Create a warm and pleasant atmosphere, yet try to stay formal.
- When preparing the food use quality raw ingredients.
- Be creative. Food and drinks are very important sensory pleasures.
- Surprise your guests by offering something unusual, or use products in an unsual way.
- Be attentive to your guests.
Sadie Briggs has very well summoned the major points a fancy dinner party should not miss:
For a large dinner party, a prepared buffet dinner can be a far less stressful and relaxed affair, allowing guests to mingle in conversation as they like and allowing you to spend more time talking to them rather than serving them. Different types of food and tableware can be separated into different rooms, for example with the main buffet in the largest room, horse d'oeuvres and dessert in side rooms and drinks, tea and coffee in another. Each room could also have its own style of linen, tableware and glassware, as most people do not have enough of one kind to cater for many people.
These could alternatively be evenly or wildly mixed throughout.
Buffet tables, with a little imagination, can become an impressive and attractive display of culinary delights. Think vertical and varied as a city skyline. Tiered serving dishes or pedestals can add considerable interest and create movement. pedestals can are often made from inverted containers, covered with cloth. Another method of varying the heights is with candlesticks and varying lengths or types of candle.
Flowers in vases can be any height you 'wish and can balance the table arrangement as a whole.
"Seating could be around the main table, or more casually around the room, where people find a place. Savings can be made on providing and clearing up utensils with a finger buffet and an ample number of placemats will ensure that surfaces and furnishings do not become damaged. Music of course is all important to complete the atmosphere. Continuous background music should not put guests to sleep, but at the same time should not be too lively or intrusive."

(Source: Extract from dining these days By Sadie Briggs Glass Style – January 2005)

Fine dining drinks
Previously mostly only wine and water was served at the dinnertable, nowadays tea, beer, soft drinks are gaining more and more popularity and are added to the restaurant menus. According to San Pellegrino’s (leading Italian mineral water producer) European consumer preferences relating to wine cosumption in restaurants are as follows:
White wines vs. champagne
- still wines 78.1%
- sparkling wines (sparkling white wine and champagne) 21.9%
Red wines vs. White wines vs. Rosé wines
- red wines 76.9%
- white wines 25.3%
- rosé wines 2.9%
What people select next to wine:
- water 89.7%
- distilled spirits, liqueurs 16.1%
- tea 10.8%
- soft drinks 10.8%
- infusions 6.7%
- beer 6.3%
- nothing 8.2%
Bottled mineral waters are getting more and more popular. Customers are beginnning to differentiate among water brands on their taste (67.6%) and on the importance of the brand (49.3%).
Experts say that wine and water are still the most appropriate drinks to be combined with food. The most important rule is to combine the three most imporant elements of a fine dinner – wine, water, food – in a way that neither the tast nor the flavour of one of the three prevails the others.
Experts observed important emerging trends in high dining: the focus and mood of the restaurant, the single glass in the wine menu, the wine corkage (a service that allow the customer to buy a bottle of wine elsewhere and have it uncorked and served in the restaurant. These steps may contribute to the hlat of teh decrease in wine consumption in restaurants.
(Source: San Pellegrino – International research on fine dining trends)
Fine dining glassware
Full wine glass sets make excellent gifts and are the protagonists of the table settings. They express the character of the evening as well as dressing the wines as the essential accompaniment to and enhancers of the meaL Coloured wine glasses enliven the table, but many people like to savour the colour of their wine, so may not appreciate this choice.
Modern wine glasses come in chic, minimal or original forms while classic styles may suit a more traditional meal and surrounding. Whatever the choice, they should match the style of the tableware, to give a sense of harmony . There is an incredible range of classic and modern fine wine glass es and goblets with various designs of stems, bowl and foot, before the influences of fashions and trends come in. Wine Glasses can thus be differentiated by their shape and design. The most popular designs of wine glass stems include the plain stem, the twist, the teardrop, the inverted baluster, the true baluster, the knobbed stem, the bobbin, the silesian, the faceted stem and the incised twist stem.
A wine glass bowl shape is determined by the type of wine it is to hold. Some wine glasses allow the bouquet to develop fully, whereas the design of others, especially smaller wine glasses, lets the bouquet escape into the air, The major bowl shapes are known as the conical, the bell shaped, the thistle, the bucket, the pointed round funnel, the trumpet. the cup, the round funnel, the ogee, the double ogee, the hexagonal, the stepped, the pan-top, the ovoid and the waisted bucket shaped bowl. Read more about different wine glass types here
When selecting a wine glass, it is important therefore to know what type of wine will be served in it, or to buy a set with both general red and hite wine glasses. Heavy, tasty red ines are best with wineglasses with a large bowl and closed mouth.

For light white wines, a smaller bowl for the wineglasses is recommended.

In the home, wine glasses can be chic and simple or richly cut, depending on the decor and the desired atmosphere. Even the foot types of the wine glass have their own special names and forms. There is the wine glass with naced foot, with conical foot, with mical folded foot, with flanged foot, with formed folded foot or with firing foot.

Preferences in bowl, stem or foot types vary with fashion and form country to country. If in doubt, and wishing to find an impressive gift, go for something classical in traditional crystal, which will never lose its magic. Supplementary information about wine glasses can be read here

Small sparkling specialities
Liqueur glass sets are also a great gift and can even be patented to the favouritedrink of the receiver. If there is no such preference then such stes can again be beautifully designed in cut crystal, hae painted or etched decoration and be in plain or colourred, transparent or opaque glass.
There is now a fashion for square glasses, or they can be rounded, with or without a foot. Some have been designed especially with the national drink in mind, such as those for Italian Grappa or Greek Ouzo. Napoleon III's wife Empress Eugenie adored violets and often used goblets for displaying them. The small pressed glass goblets, either coloured or clear, were apparently the right size and shape for small bouquets which add delightful and subtle splashes of pretty colour to any dining table or buffet. These goblets are now rare collectors items, especially those in certain hues such as amethyst. or those more elaborately shaped and decorated with stamped designs.
The ideal decanter
A stylish decanter for serving and storing wine, should never be lacking on the perfectly set dinner table and there is such a huge variety to choose from, that any host can use this as an expression of personality and taste.
The variety of decanters designs include geometric forms, elegant lines, mouth-blown, hand-cut, in 24% lead crystal or plain glass, with a cased layer bonded to a clear crystal base. Decanters need not be clear, although it is usually preferable to see the colour of the contents. They can be stunning gems in cobalt blue, gold ruby, amethyst and emerald green, with a coloured casing and neck left clear or with inset colour.
Surfaces can be with intricate cutting, simple pattern with bold cuts, etched, engraved, cut, gilded, embossed, and polished in the floral, figurative, grape designs or straight or diagonally cut in geometric patterns. A typical a href="lead-crystal-glass-tableware-prodcat30.htm">whiskey decanter with intricate hand-cut detail reflects the bygone era of the Victorian style.
Fine Dining atmosphere
The atmosphere is what makes the evening and no more so than for a romantic meal. The five senses need to be taken into serious consideration here:
Sight - colours, lighting and style of table settings, centrepiece and linen make an enormous difference. Plan food for colour and texture and how it will look on the chosen plates.
Sound - soft. romantic music playing away in the background relaxes the atmosphere.
Smell - perfumed candles can clash horribly with the scent of the food. but the aroma of spices and baking whet the appetite.
Taste - foods can have aphrodisiac properties. butter and olive oil add seductive richness. as does chocolate with liqueur for dessert.
Touch - use a table which allows you to sit close together and which is not so cluttered that there is no room to reach out for that special caress, or to feed each other. without having too many objects in between to knock over. Centrepieces should not obscure the vision.
Enchanting Candles
Light is fundamental to the decoration of an impressive table. People love nature and the natural light of candles is the best for a warm relaxing atmosphere at diner, perhaps with a little backlight from a lamp placed artfully in a corner. Candles come in all shapes, sizes and colours, often with decorative finishes or markings.
Coloured glass interacts beautifully with candlelight. As not only glass candleholders but also tableware reflects and multiplies the glow and colour; through wine glasses and tumblers , emphasizing the rims of the plates and forms of the dishes, mixing the colours of candlelight with that of their contents.
The color can be chosen to create the atmosphere you desire, with reds and oranges for Christmas, red for a romantic evening or pinks and greens for a light, party feeling. The continual reflection of light creates a warm unity which no dinner party could have too much of. Candleholders themselves inevitably catch the eye holding a source of light. For those preferring ethnic tableware. Candleholders can be an opportunity to display their awareness of sophisticated natural. uneven and original design forms. If candlesticks are used the candles should match in style and form although colour can contrast nicely. These can also be classical yet modern, or for the truly romantic, curving sinuously in polished silver or glass, with 17th century Rococo elegance.
Candles placed within blown glass seem even more magical as both the glass and the flame within are such strong and yet such delicate materials, glowing dangerously close. A coloured glass surround throws magical colour.
With or without a candlestick, candles can be stunning centrepieces, surrounded by lengths of carefully tied and shaped ribbons and tulle of different shades and widths. Velvet and taffeta ribbons are particularly rich for occasions such as Christmas, or any winter dinner party. Lace and pastel colours lighten the occasion and would be more suitable for a spring or summer meal. A bed of ribbon and flowers can also provide a beautiful candle surround.
(Source: Extract from Dining these days By Sadie Briggs Glass Style – January 2005)
Fine Dining Menu
Even though most people refer to the Cuisine Bourgeois when mentioning European menu. European fine dining does not necessarily mean however pork or veal based national dishes, but rather the French style top quality cuisine that may also adapt the above mentioned menus turning them into unparalelled high class creations.
A few excellent examples for European fine dining entrés:
- Noisettes of Suckling Pig in a Caraway and Ale sauce, served with Red Cabbage, Apple and Dumplings
- Veal Liver Sautéed in Herbs with Chive sauce, Pureed Onion and Dumplings
- Marinated Gooseliver with Nuts and Raspberry Coulis,
- Filet of Red Mullet served on Potato Salad with a Vinaigrette of Balsamico
- Lobster on Marinated Vegetables with Noodles of Olives and Pineseeds
- Roasted Scallops on Stewed Banyules-Onions with Couscous
Ideas for fine dining main courses:
- Veal Scallop served on Tomato Fondue and Pesto sauce
- Veal Sweetbread Ravioli in Parsley
- Smoked Eel with Potatoes and Cucumber Dressing, the Consommé with Pistou,
- Gnocchi with Caviar and Chive-Sauce,
- Turbot on a Bed of Spinach, or
- Loin of Venison in a Pastry Crust with Pistachios and Port Wine Sauce
- Tripe with Croquettes of Calf's Head on a Crepe of Herbs with Truffled Leek
- Crepinette from the Etouffe-Pigeon with a slice of Black Pudding, Green Asparagus and a Sauce of Truffles
Fine dining desserts
- Pear Soufflé Tart with Walnut Ice-cream,
- Cottage Cheese Dumplings with Stewed Prunes
- Baked Leaves of Chocolate with Nougat and Orange sauce
No matter if you visit a fancy upscale fine dining restaurant or if you create a fine dining atmosphere at home for your guests, your choice is perfect if you remember of the occasion as an extraordinary and exceptional event.

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