Back to the Eighties! 

Did your parents throw dinner parties? Mine did – elaborate ones. I clearly remember Mum once dipping small bunches of grapes in egg white and sugar before hanging the frosted grapes artfully over the edge of cocktail glasses. She made souffles. She did curry nights before it was popular. And Big G’s parents once hosted a French-themed dinner party where they turned their dining room into a bistro, complete with individual small tables and Gauloise.

Reminiscing about this recently, my sister-in-law and I decided that our parents put our one-pot kitchen suppers to shame and we should have a PROPER dinner party.

So last weekend, Big G and I went to an 80s-themed evening.

Guests had to dress the part, naturally. Big G and I took late-80s coke-and-champagne fuelled City-types as our inspiration, but there was also present some fluoro eyeshadow, some Miami Vice-style rolled sleeves and deck shoes, a leather tie, beads and a slogan T-shirt.

We were asked to bring the canapes. Having discounted vol-au-vents and devilled eggs as too 70s, I made cheese straws, smoked salmon and mini quiche Lorraine.

Big G then decided we needed a pineapple and cheese hedgehog. Except with grapes and sausages on it as well. I take no responsibility for this.

Things improved noticeably when mains were served. Duck a l’orange, naturally. With duchess potatoes (posh!) and rainbow chard gratin.

And there was this delicious classic with which to wash it down.

Next up, a palate cleanser of Um Bongo sorbet with peach schnapps. This was an INSPIRED choice, although it did leave quite the sugar veneer in our mouths.

Dessert was a choice (ha ha ha, choice – I ate both) of profiteroles and mandarin flan, the latter apparently being a childhood staple for some of the guests. It involved tinned mandarins. I grew up in Queensland, so we rarely needed tinned fruit, for which I am eternally grateful (sorry, L!). And yes, that’s cream from a can. Delicious.

And there was a cheese board with a cigar of smoked German cheese and that old classic, Port Salut.

Our hosts also had us guess a list of 80s TV theme tunes.Despite my mother’s best efforts to limit TV when I was little, I pipped two of the boys to the post, recognising 43 of some 60-odd themes. In your face, Mum!

My prize? A packet of Nerds. My penance? A Charles in Charge earworm.

Best dinner party ever.