I have made this mistake too many times before; something finally had to be done. I have often found myself so excited by the myriad of options in front of me –  dishes to cook…wines to serve…plates to nibble on – that in my attempt to avoid a miserable day of overwhelming prep, portions upon portions of uneaten food and justifiably confused guests, I have finally come to endow my gatherings with an overarching theme. Chalk it up to the fecund nature of youthful excitement, but this has become my foolproof way to reign it all in.

When trying to create the perfect event, get-together or informal dinner party, simplicity is most certainly the key to success. Perhaps you’re thinking of an Italian spread for a dinner party—begin your ingredient-sourcing by visiting the best Italian deli you can find. Buy a mix of charcuterie, crunchy grissini and masterful Italian cheeses. Offer simple grilled prawns or a warm truffled beef salad as a starter, followed by whole salt-baked sea bass. Finish with a pistachio and apricot tart or homemade tiramisu, perhaps even a simple (but brilliant) gelato. Seek out true ripe Prosecco, unearth a stunning Barolo vintage, dust off that Chianti in the cellar, and finish with Vin Santo to wash down your biscotti or amoretti biscuits.

My personal Italian lunch gathering was made great by South London favourite www.vallebona.co.uk

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