There are times when you fire up the grill with your buddies, overtly decide that meat is the only real food group, and use utensils to an increasingly optional degree…but that’s for a different day; a day with the boys. Tonight (or maybe this weekend, if you’re planning ahead), you need to impress a special someone, and that kind of meal will not suffice. Whether you’re romancing your significant other, or assuring your mom that you learned some useful household skills after all, put on a clean shirt, apron up, and pair these elegant themed dinners with the right playlist for a night that’s sure to amaze.
Italian Inspired Dinner
Few things are more romantic than bringing the flavors and spirit of Italy right to your kitchen counter (unless of course you’re in Italy, in which case, nevermind). You can add to the effect with mood-setting candles and a good pour of Barolo wine, several years aged. While you put the finishing touches on your meal, lay out a loaf of rosemary bread with some oil and vinegar to get your special guest ready to dine.
Main Dish: Bolognese
Originating from Bologna, Italy, this aptly named dish is revamped with a fresher, lighter style. Chock-full of vibrant flavors, an aroma of spices, and more vegetable colors than you ever knew existed, this modernized entree will get the good-mood vibes flowing.
Head on over to
Saveur.com to learn how to make
this dish, then tune into a light, mellow playlist to help you get cooking:
Beverage: Americano Cocktail
In addition to your stunning main dish, you can really mix in la dolce vita with a classic Italian cocktail. Check out some
Italian cocktail recipes from
AskMen, such as this one for a well-crafted Americano:
• 1 oz. sweet vermouth
• 1 oz. Campari liquer
• Chilled club soda
• Pour the spirits into a chilled Collins glass with ice cubes, stir and garnish with an orange slice or twist of lemon peel
Spanish Style Dinner
Looking to relax and slow things down a bit? Settle the evening with pleasant colors and homey, Spanish comfort food. Bring in your
HEOS to complete the ambiance, allowing you to play the same music in the kitchen as you work, in the living room as your guests lounge, and in the dining room as you eat for a palatable, holistic dining experience.
Main Dish: Seafood Paella
There are a lot of different takes on paella, but one of this dish’s shining attributes is its versatility: If your guest isn’t a seafood lover, you can always substitute for chicken or chorizo, or anything else for that matter, just shy of packaged hot dogs (and even then…). You might have to travel into uncharted territory at the grocery store for some of the ingredients, but on the plus side, this dish is relatively easy to make!
The Mediterranean Dish
Visit The Mediterranean Dish for this
easy seafood paella recipe as you cook along to this zesty, soulful playlist:
Gazpacho is traditionally served chilled, which may seem like a strange concept at first, but with this
fast and simple recipe from
Serious Eats, a bowl of this hearty soup is the perfect way to start off your evening.
J.Kenji Lopez-Alt, via Serious Eats
French Dinner Fare
This meal is the perfect luxury, giving in to mouth-watering tastes and satiating that sweet tooth. Set the stage with a starter beverage of champagne or
fancy cocktail (we recommend the French 75) to prep the palatte for culinary wonderment, and you can always impress with some fresh flowers on the table (it shows you were thinking ahead—just make sure to take off the cellophane wrapper, because that’s where the price tag is).
Main Dish: Filet Mignon with Truffle Mushroom Ragout
This popularized French-turned-American dish has its flavors taken up a notch as it’s paired with the big, bold tastes of a mushroom ragout. Your dinner date might appreciate the timelessness of a good filet mignon, but will be wowed by your next-level ingenuity (yes, take the credit for this invention, we’ll never tell).
Charlie Palmer, via Esquire
Seared Filet Mignon with Truffle Mushroom Ragout recipe from
Esquire.com, pour out a glass of Pinot, and sear away to this big and bold playlist:
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse
You’d be hard-pressed to find a person that doesn’t have some version of a chocolate indulgence every once and a while, and tonight is a good night for it. End your meal with this simple and delectable
chocolate mousse recipe from
Food 52, for a rich, ever-satisfying finish.
Good luck with your food prep! We know your
dinner party will go off without a hitch. Reward yourself after your guests leave for the evening with a solo dance party to this