Mar 8th 2017

Masked Carnival Party Ideas

Masked Carnival Party 

Carnivals conjure up so many different things, from Rio to Venice.  To most of us – it means a massive and flamboyant street party, lasting often for many days.  Few of us though, can afford the time or the money to have a party lasting for days, so plan your Masked Carnival Party now unless you fancy taking a holiday!

The run up to Lent is the traditional season for the ‘Carnevale’… which in Italian actually means ‘farewell to meat’!  Revellers in the past would use up the richest ingredients they had to hand, so there’s every excuse for a feast.  

It’s said that the Carnival of Venice was started from a victory of the ‘Serenissima Repubblica’ against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico di Treven in the year 1162. In the honour of this victory, the people started to dance and have reunions in San Marco Square.  Apparently, this festival started in that period and became official in the Renaissance. 

So how about picking the best bits of these celebrations and match them to your very own Masked Carnival Party and you could consider hosting yours to include children.   Painting your own mask is an enormously enjoyable thing to do whatever your age, and all the materials you need can easily be sourced from a good art and craft shop.  And a Masked Carnival Party is the perfect opportunity to go all out for the most fabulous fancy dress outfits. Some of the most memorable moments are when you can shed your everyday personality and wear a new one, just for a few hours!!

The mask is the perfect foil for a little classy flirtation – you’d be following in many well-trodden footsteps if you do!  There are some incredibly elegant masks on the market, as well as many with flamboyant styles.  Feathers. Crystals. Gold. Take your pick. Here’s some great examples:

Masked Carnival Party Ideas

Fairground hire is easily organised and will keep the children happy, and for a more adult party, colourful carnival dancers could spice up the evening!

Aperitifs are easy.  Venetian spritz is a very cool mix of Aperol and Prosecco, traditionally considered to be the only choice at this time of year. Alternatively, Harry’s Bar in Venice is famed for the cocktail they invented… The Bellini.

opportunity to leave the sit-down meal behind for a change, and get street vendors lined up for the occasion. Think ‘Cicchetti’ – fabulous tasty bite sized delicacies that are on the counter of every street cafe or bacari.

Masked Carnival Party Ideas


Many of us have sampled the fantastic street food that Venice and other famous cities have to offer and this could be a great .. Bruschetta, salt cod, meatballs… The list is endless.

To compliment these savoury dishes eaten during the Carnival period, Venetians invented the sweet treat called fritelle. It’s a fried ball of pastry dough and often filled with cream or nutella and sprinkled with icing sugar… has a great recipe which you can adapt if chocolate is your thing! 

 Masked Carnival Party Ideas

To continue your Venetian theme, round off your Masked Carnival Party with the traditional hot chocolate drink made famous by Florians in St Mark’s Square.  Buy the very best quality drinking chocolate you can find and add just the tiniest pinch of cornflour to the dry chocolate before adding hot milk, whisking to make sure it remains smooth and creamy. Serve in fine bone china cups and saucers to make the experience truly authentic… Or if you want to go for the real thing – it’s available on line at 

Buon Appetito!!


If you enjoyed our ideas for a Carnival Party, why not take a look at our post on Carnivals around the world:

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 Feb 20th 2017

Mega Vegan Party

Mega Vegan Party

You don’t need to be a nutritionist to become a vegan, but most people who are vegetarian or vegan are, on the whole, more informed about their food choices. People now talk glowingly about plant based eating. From Chrissie Hynde to Moby, who recently opened such a restaurant in L.A.  I have just returned from my annual detox. A week of juicing and yoga at Juicy Oasis in Portugal. And, I am feeling inspired to focus more on catering for alternative lifestyles, healthy living and ethical choices at my events.

At least 542,000 people in Britain are now following a vegan diet and never consume any animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and honey. This is a whopping increase since the last estimate of 150,000 ten years ago (Ipsos MORI)!!

Now with the abundance of new products on the supermarket shelves, a plant based meal is no longer just a matter of conscience though, but a delicious and healthy way of life.  More and more people are becoming aware of this. It makes a good deal of sense to make consideration of their culinary and lifestyle choices when planning a celebration.

Rather than the rather old fashioned way of thinking which usually involves meat substitutes, why not embrace the modern and innovative by celebrating the beautiful produce that can be found in many farmer’s markets and specialist organic shops as well as the more enlightened supermarkets and have yourself a fabulous Mega Vegan Party to lead the way?!

For a real health and beauty boost look at the delicious smoothies you can tempt your friends with.   Kick off your Mega Vegan Party with a non-alcoholic smoothie containing cucumber, apple, pear, celery, ginger, fresh mint, lime and spinach – all fave ingredients!

Mega Vegan Party whilst not specifically a vegan website, does have many gorgeous ideas to tempt your taste-buds…  Look out for her gorgeous fragrant smoothies that you can conjure up with one good whizz of the blender!

Buffets, imaginatively and artistically labelled and arranged, can be a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy, speaking of which, as a result of the fabulously healthy food should be wonderfully full but not remaining so…

Mega Vegan Party

Another riotous celebration of tasty, healthy food from the author of ‘Cook. Nourish. Glow’,  Amelia Freer.

Our love of Far Eastern, Asian, Indian and Chinese food (and that most of us have easy access to the sometimes unusual ingredients) means that your Mega Vega Glam party has virtually endless combinations of foods and drinks and it is absolutely up to you where you take it!

And if you’d prefer not to have to do all the prepping yourself, there are some new, online companies sprouting forth that will do the work for you!  Look for companies that partner with top chefs, celebrities or brands to prepare vegan meals exclusively for delivery service.  Plant-based company Beyond Meat now partners with Chef’d, and superstar Beyoncé is championing the idea of nutritious vegan food delivered to your door so you’re in good company…

Another hot trend for 2017 are Fermented Foods – enjoy a bottle of refreshing kombucha, snack on kimchi, or add flavour to your cooking with miso paste.

And as for fries, forget the ubiquitous sweet potato and take a look at avocado, polenta and even banana fries.  No doubt you’ve got a spiralizer lurking somewhere in your kitchen. Keep seeking out the imaginative recipes that are exploring the endless healthy possibilities of raw food… And finally, for the savoury fans, seaweed is the new kale!  Not only is it environmentally friendly and sustainable, it’s packed with fibre, antioxidants, iodine and good fats, making it the latest darling of the health food world.  Maybe just round off your Mega Vegan Party buffet table with some gorgeous sushi!

Moving on…  Pudding pleasers can be found in abundance at the singingvegan on Instagram.  And the ultimate sweet toothed treat could just be the most delicious Beet Macaroons @eatkitchentable with pecan creme…

When it comes to dressing your table, have a look at ethically sourced and organic products such as these soy wax scented candles by What better way other than drinking Prosecco could there be than inhaling it?!

Mega Vegan Party

It’s now considered seriously chic to be vegan as we stand up to define a more considered and ethical world.  Consider your interior design for example. Sustainable and ethically sourced materials don’t have to lack style – in fact they can be more cutting edge than some of the heavily advertised products on the market.

Finally, if you can’t bear not to offer some alcohol at your Mega Vegan Party, it’s worth considering the appeal of biodynamic wines which we referred to in this post:



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 Feb 13th 2017

Preparing Valentine’s Dinner – 5 Dos and Don’ts

Preparing Valentine’s Dinner – 5 Dos and Don’ts

Music may be the food of love, but a romantic soundtrack is not enough to win hearts on Valentine’s day. Preparing Valentine’s Dinner may feel daunting, but the recipe for romance doesn’t need to be complicated. Follow these simple dos and don’ts to enjoy a happy dinner of love.

Preparing Valentine's Dinner catering

Do: romance the one you love.

Don’t: go on a first date.

It is surprising how many people think Valentine’s day is only for those in the first throws of romance. We know you can show your loved one how much they mean to you any day of the week – but do you? Forget complaining about the commercialisation of love and get cooking up something special for the two of you. For those who have just met and are yet to go on a date – my advice is wait a week. Unless you are teenagers, preparing Valentine’s Dinner for a first date is more clueless than cute. Whether you like it or not, there are so many romantic expectations on 14 February you are likely to end up ruining the relationship before it starts. Give new love a chance. By all means send a card and flowers, but save the big romantic gestures until there is some real heart behind them.

Do: plan ahead.

Don’t: leave it to the last minute.

We all know that spontaneity is one of the keys to lasting romance. Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is one of those occasions where spontaneity can leave you literally out in the cold. If you’ve not got a booking, unless you plan to eat at McDonalds you’re probably not going to get in. Choosing somewhere because it holds a special memory for your both is more important than getting a table at the hottest venue in town. The old cliché: it’s the thought that counts, has never been more true than on Valentine’s day.  Whether you are eating in or dining out, make sure your Valentine’s favourite food is on the menu – even if it is simply fish and chips! It doesn’t matter how much you spend or how grand the gesture, if you haven’t taken time to think about the tastes of your sweetheart, you’ve made a big mistake.

Preparing Valentine's Dinner

Do: add a personal touch.

Don’t: try to be too original.

If you are struggling for ideas don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to do something wacky or extravagant to impress on Valentine’s day. Indeed, veering too far from tradition can leave your loved-one feeling cheated. February 14 is perhaps the one celebration when you don’t need a huge imagination to make it special. It’s a tradition that’s been around since the 5th century and there are certain expectations that go along with that. All the trappings of romance of there for you to pick up and use – hearts, flowers, chocolates, candles, moonlight – you don’t need me to keep listing them, just choose a traditional favourite and add a personal twist.


Do: consider your loved-one’s taste buds.

Don’t: choose messy food.

Caviar may have been a favourite food of Casanova and oysters an aphrodisiac, but if these amorous foods don’t tickle your loved-ones taste buds your romantic hopes may be dashed. It’s best to stick to foods you know you both enjoy. Saying that, there are certain dishes to avoid, unless you want to be left looking like a clown. Slurping, splashing, picking – you know what I’m talking about. Even by the sound of the words we know we know in terms of romance choosing this type of menu could be a recipe for disaster. So, no spaghetti, no spinach, no mussels and no burgers. And don’t just think about the mess at the table but the possible after effects. This means no sprouts, garlic, raw onions, chilli and staining foods like beetroot. Also, avoid creamy and heavy dishes if you have better plans for after dinner than crashing on the sofa and falling asleep!!

Preparing Valentine's Dinner catering

Do: keep it simple.

Don’t: overcomplicate the menu.

Unless you are an accomplished chef don’t use Valentine’s day to try out a new fancy recipe. It may impress, but it may also end up with you panicking in the kitchen and appearing fraught and irritable. Stress is not an attractive look. Keep it simple. If you are planning to cook it is much better to choose tried and tested recipes incorporating your favourite foods – roast chicken or grilled fish for example – and add a special touch to create the desired atmospheric by taking time to plan the music, lighting and décor. Valentine’s Day is a day of love. Relax and enjoy it.

 Preparing Valentine's Dinner catering

If you have enjoyed our tips and ideas around Preparing Valentine’s Dinner, visit for the Top 5 Romantic Venues in Manchester.


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