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March 22, 2023 - Lifestyle

The Art of Entertaining – Menuscape – with Hercules Noble

The Art of Entertaining has been curated by friends of Cloudy Bay as a guide to effortlessly recreate our Wonderscape experience at home. From crafting a menu showcasing seasonal produce to styling a tablescape inspired by the wonder of nature, the Art of Entertaining is your guide to sipping and savouring the best of Cloudy Bay wines in the company of friends and family.

In this extract from The Art of Entertaining, culinary wunderkind, Hercules has partnered with Cloudy Bay to create an idyllic long lunch menu that enhances Cloudy Bay’s delicious range of wines
Hercules’ approach to cooking is to take risks and be bold without overcomplicating things. Having learnt everything he knows from the people who surround him, he now shares his knowledge, experience and favourite ingredients with Cloudy Bay.

First Hercules says if quality over quantity. Have you ever been to a long lunch, gotten half way through and thought “I am absolutely stuffed already”? The key to a successful long lunch is keeping your guests comfortable and always looking forward to the next dish. Quality over quantity every time. There are two types of long lunches. The first is where you serve a whole lot of food all at once allowing guests slowly but surely to help themselves to each dish. The second is a multi-course digest. If the latter is your preference, consider small canapés to start - may I suggest an amuse-bouche? Then follow with an entrée, main and of course, dessert. Consider starting the lunch with lighter, fresher and more acidic flavours to open up the palate. You’re looking at serving between three - five dishes here. No need to be overwhelmed as this leads me onto my next tip.

Next, Hercules suggests to platter up. This is a small tip, but something I make sure I do every time. Look at your menu and decide what plates or platters you’re going to use for each dish. It can all feel a little bit chaotic plating up when your guests arrive and an easy trick like this will help everything run smoothly. As the saying goes, you can never be too prepared. Identify your menu and decide what preparation can be done beforehand. It’s easy for me to say, but I think this tip is important. There’s nothing worse than a salad that was prepared three hours ago, or a chicken that was roasted in the morning and re-heated prior to serving.

Lastly, don’t forget to garnish, garnish and garnish! People eat with their eyes. A very easy way to elevate your menu is to have a few prepared garnishes ready for use. I usually finely slice spring onions and pop them into ice water. They curl up and look great. Use these to top your salad, chicken or anything looking a touch bland or lacking in colour. Thinly slice chillies or lemon peel. Pick parsley leaves and leave in cold water. Toast hazelnuts. Use your imagination. Have these garnishes ready to go in small bowls so that when you plate up no dish will hit the table looking boring.

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