December is a long and often busy month. People take the opportunity to get together with friends and exchange greetings and, given the cold climate, they like to gather in their homes and, given the cold weather, we like to gather in our homes with cheerful dinners of delicious winter dishes.

How do we set the table?

As far as table settings are concerned, we can certainly think of an elegant and festive set-up, without going overboard, so as not to risk setting the table on Christmas Day. The intention is to give warmth in a more informal way by adding just a few touches to remind us that we are under the holiday season. We could, for example, use a plain tablecloth as a base, perhaps in a colour other than Christmas red. I'm very fond of shades that recall I really like shades that are reminiscent of nature in this season, such as Plum, or an elegant Walnut, or a sophisticated Smoke, a shade somewhere between smoky grey and aubergine. Then I would suggest adding runners, by choosing a fabric or pattern that ties in with our base colours, for example with Plum I really like black and white toile de jouy.

Organising a dinner party Organising a dinner party Organising a dinner party

Come sempre i tovaglioli giocheranno un ruolo importante per definire e rifinire la vostra tavola, ed ecco che con il modello pruno con un sottile profilo dorato avrete l'elemento festivo di cui parlavamo.

Place them on the left side of the plate or if you want something more creative, check out the article I wrote a while ago about the different ways to use napkins to decorate the table. Choose some nice glasses and, since you have a colour on the table, why not think about some plum-coloured water glasses and match them with some nice baloon wine glasses? balloon wine glasses? In this season it is a pleasure for me to pair a good dinner with a full-bodied and richly aromatic wine, so suitable glasses are important.

Alternatively, a beautiful Smoke and Walnut tablecloth will certainly recall the atmospheres of the season but will keep away from the typical Christmas colours. Again, the choice of napkins will be your ace up your sleeve, especially if you opt for those from the Petali range, with their autumnal leaf motif, where the colours blend delicately with the tablecloth but certainly don't go unnoticed!

Organising a dinner party Organising a dinner party Organising a dinner party

At the centre of the table you can use beautiful candles in shades of plum or ivory, perhaps with a few green branches. If you want a slightly more sophisticated touch, you could alternatively ask your florist to prepare a centrepiece with late hydrangeas and bordeaux calla lilies or some other delicate flower to assist with the colours of our table. I would avoid red berries which are too typical of Christmas. However, wait to buy the centrepiece, read my suggestions for the menu first and then decide.

Would you like some suggestions for a slightly original menu?

There are so many dishes that are not eaten in the warmer months that are always very well received during the cold season. I have French ancestry, so my friends know that in December I like to prepare dishes that are not only good but also convivial, such as fondue Savoiarda with cheese or Raclette.

I'll give you the recipes below, and you will see that it will be child's play. The only thing you need is the right tools. If you want to do everything in style, you will need to buy a fondue oven. It comes complete with long, thin forks for piercing the bread croutons and a cast iron or metal pot to place directly over the flame. You can easily find it online and the cost starts at a few tens of euros. You can also use it on other occasions to prepare different types of savoury or sweet fondues. Maybe we'll talk about these in a future article, because I'm really passionate about fondues! Alternatively you could use a small camping stove with an earthenware pot. The same goes for the Raclette, this is a bit bulkier and more expensive and is used for little else than Raclette but when you see the success of a dinner like this, I think you won't regret your purchase. In December I have a waiting list for my Savoyard dinners! I'll put up a couple of links to find everything.

Here you can find good ones for all budgets
If you want to give yourself a special gift, go here

The great benefits of a one-dish dinner.

Returning to the preparations, the recipes I choose for my dinners are simple and have the great advantage of being able to be prepared at the last minute. You just need to get the ingredients and arrange them well on the plates. If you don't like cheese, you can opt for Fondue Bourguignonne, made with different types of meat, accompanied by sauces. Another great thing about these dinners is that they are truly one-dish meals, so you don't have to get up and change plates and cutlery, everything is done at the table and the conversation is never interrupted. So they are perfect for conviviality and at the same time it will be a pleasant and stress-free dinner for the hostess. This is even more true if you use one of my magic stain-resistant tablecloths, which take away the worries about wine or cheese drops falling or whatever. At the end of the meal, all you have to do is clean it well with a damp sponge and a little neutral soap.

Is that all?

"But don't I serve anything before and after the fondue?" I would simply welcome my guests with an aperitif, and since we are on the transalpine theme, I propose a French classic, a Kir Royale. If you have a fireplace, you can serve it before going to the table, comfortably seated on the sofas. So that they don't drink it on an empty stomach, accompany it with crudités or, more simply, with olives and nuts, in moderate quantities: the aim is not to spoil your guests' appetites, because fondue really is a substantial dish.

The fondue needs no accompaniment, but if you want something fresh to cleanse the palate before dessert, I recommend preparing a salad, choosing a curly salad, which has a slightly bitter aftertaste, softened with pomegranate seeds and sautéed bread croutons. This is also a typically French recipe that can be made perfect with a vinaigrette, enriched with a teaspoon of strong mustard. The combination of flavours will be refreshing and your guests will welcome the dessert.

Dessert ideas and some basic tips

I adore desserts: here is my idea for a fitting end to this dinner, pineapple au gratin flambéed in grappa. Here, in fact, I must make a fundamental parenthesis before preparing a cheese-based dinner. Do not serve water at the table! You're crazy, you'll tell me. Believe me, you can only drink wine or hot drinks such as tea at a processed cheese dinner. Water congeals the cheeses and creates an indigestible ball in your stomach - not a good experience! So, if you have friends who are teetotalers, simply bring to the table a nice teapot or a very elegant Samovar where you can always keep hot tea or infusions. It will be fun and perhaps because of this drinkable characteristic of cheese dinners, the atmosphere is always cheerful. That's why ending with a pineapple in grappa seems particularly appropriate.


Fondue Savoiarda for 4 people

  • 200 g of cheese per person, divided between: Compté. Beaufort, Swiss Emmenthal
  • 1 garlic clove
  • dry white wine
  • 1 small glass of kirsch
  • bread

The procedure is very simple:
First cut the bread into cubes, you can for example buy baguettes the day before and cut them up. Let it dry out and, if necessary, let it dry out a little in the oven. Rub the sides of the fondue pot well with a clove of garlic and, if you like, use some on the croutons. Cut all the cheese into cubes Heat a glass of white wine in the saucepan, as soon as it starts to bubble add the cheese, stirring constantly over a low heat, let it melt and add the Kirsh. Bring immediately to the table, setting the flame of the cooker rather low because the cheese congeals quite quickly. Don't be afraid to bring it to the table very liquid. The bread will pick up the cheese anyway and the fondue will last longer.

Mustard vinaigrette:

  • a teaspoon of strong mustard: the best are Meaux pommery or'Amorà, easier to find but still very good. A more delicate flavour is Maille.
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt

The procedure is very simple:
. Prepare your Vinaigrette in a glass jar with a lid, dissolve the salt in a tablespoon of vinegar, then add pepper to taste, and mustard, mix well. Now add the oil, close the jar and shake for a few seconds. The texture will become slightly thick and will nicely veil the salad. Dress the salad just before serving so that it does not wilt.

Raclette Raclette Raclette


  • small pickled onions
  • some very small and crispy pickled gherkins
  • 400 g Bresaola or Carne Salada
  • 1 kg small red potatoes
  • 200 g Raclette cheese, or half a wheel if you have a traditional cooker*

*This is a cheese similar to Fontina which you will find in well-stocked cheese shops or in French Christmas markets such as the one in Bologna during the month of December.

Boil the potatoes in their skins. Place them whole in a container to take to the table, traditionally a wooden tub is used, taking care to keep them warm covered with a linen cloth. Cut the cheese into slices if you have an oven with frying pans, or simply place it on the appropriate support in a traditional oven. Don't remove the rind! That's the best part when it toasts. Arrange the bresaola in a nice serving dish and the pickles in small bowls. As with the fondue, the recommendation is to serve only wine or hot drinks, not water, to avoid digestive blockages. Once at the table, melt the cheeses. Each person will help themselves to potatoes, to be cut into slices, accompanied by the bresaola. Once the cheese is melted, it will be poured over the potatoes and bresaola. The pickles will be a pleasant interlude to cleanse the palate. If you use the traditional cooker, the guests will be served in turn, and when the surface of the half Raclette cheese melts, you will scrape it off and pour it directly onto each person's plate, taking care to reserve a little toasted crust for each person. This ritual and convivial part will be part of the evening's fun and will soon spark off a competition to see who gets the most "turns".

French markets in Bologna James Bond

The Kir Royale:

The cocktail of James Bond (Sean Connery)

  • 10 ml di Crème de Cassis
  • 90 ml di Champagne

Serve the Kir Royale in the bottom of a champagne flute. Add the champagne to the brim of the flute. Stir gently with the stem and serve.

Ananas gratinato e flambato alla grappa:

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 1 a pinch of cinnamon
  • sugar
  • grappa

Cut the pineapple into slices from the tuft to the base, without removing the skin. Cut the slices crosswise for ease of cutting. Sprinkle each slice with plenty of sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Bake at 200° for about 20 minutes and, if necessary, put under the grill for 2-3 minutes at the end. Place your slices on a serving plate or on the individual plates of your guests. Once at the table, drizzle with grappa, if desired, and flame. You can also serve with a spoonful of mascarpone cream.