A Bridal Shower For Food-Lovers

The purpose of a bridal shower is to, well, shower the bride (and groom!) with gifts to help them start their new life together. If you're in charge of throwing a shower in honor of a food-loving bride-to-be, why not build a fun afternoon or evening around helping her stock her kitchen with everything she'll need, from pots and pans to knives, utensils, and gadgets.

Here's my recipe for hosting a gourmet soiree, which, by the way, makes both a great ladies-only party or a fabulous co-ed celebration, depending on your couple! (Photo below courtesy of William Geddes)


Mood: Sumptuous and sophisticated.

Setting: A big open kitchen, a restaurant private dining room, or even a culinary school classroom.

Invitations: Include a blank recipe card with your invitations or ask guests to submit recipes via email. Then collect them into a "cookbook" for the newlyweds — you can combine your own personal recipes with those published in magazines like Gourmet and Saveur into a customized cookbook using Tastebook.

Food: Treat this shower like a wine and cheese party, offering artisanal cheeses, marinated olives, spiced nuts, fruits, and a variety of delicious breads and crackers.

Drinks: Create "tasting stations" with wines, microbrews, and cheeses partnered together so guests can try different flavor combinations. If you need help with choosing wines to match your foods, consult a good local wine store. Like beer? Don't despair — it's the perfect match for alpine cheeses like these. Another tip is to stick with foods and wines from one geographical region (Spain, Italy, France, for example), as foods and wines that come from the same place are generally well matched.

Activities: Quiz the honoree(s) or guests on their food and wine knowledge with a multiple choice trivia game and give prizes for the correct answer to questions like, "What's the difference between a sauce and a gravy?" Alternatively, host a food show-inspired "quick cook challenge" where the bride and groom, or guests, must prepare a simple side dish (think salads or desserts), combining elements from a table full of already prepped ingredients. Give the winner a fun apron or whisk as a prize.

Details: Display food and décor on cutting boards and in colanders. Use mixing bowls and utensil caddies as vases. Add glowing votives in your party colors for an extra layer of ambience.

Gifts: Chances are your foodie couple is registered for cookware, but other great gifts include cookbooks, aprons, aged vinegars and specialty oils, even restaurant gift certificates for the cook's night off, or DVDs of their favorite cooking shows.


Suggested Food and Wine Pairings

• Fresh goat cheese marinated with olive oil, parsley, and sun-dried tomatoes, paired with a lively Gewürztraminer.

• Spicy Roasted Cocktail Nuts and Amontillado Sherry.

• Aged Gouda and Pinot Blanc.

• Bacon-wrapped dates and Barbaresco.

• Roquefort-Stuffed Olives with Cotes du Rhone.

• Warm Brie with Champagne or Prosecco.