Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Tables and Spreads: A Go-To Guide for Beautiful Snacks, Intimate Gatherings, and Inviting Feasts


Tables and Spreads is an accessible and *useful* guide to putting together inviting tables from the smallest gatherings to feasts. Due out 4th May 2021 from Chronicle Books, it's 288 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a complete guide from the planning phase (what, how many, season, where, resources) through to completion for beautiful, timely, appropriate, inviting, and tastefully presented spreads - from the simplest nibbles with friends, to a lush extravaganza. I really felt as though this book was like a well equipped and experienced event planner, reassuring and sensible and with an enviable sense of style. I loved that there are charts and questionnaires to fill out to help readers define the scope of their event and get a solid idea of planning and making a timeline (that was worth the price of the book to me). 

There are so many practical takeaways here - everything from choosing flavors and balancing flavors and textures, to serving utensils, containers, glassware, dinnerware, and more. This is the stuff which those of us who grew up without a subscription to Southern Living and Town & Country probably missed out on. Tablescaping is given its own chapter (including flowers, music, tablecloths and runners, and general wow-factor), as well as different spreads for consideration. 

The recipe section is full of appetizing recipes which are included in numerous casual to fancy spreads - there are brunches (of course), but there are also year round holiday spreads which will turn any holiday into a showstopper. 

Ingredient measurements are supplied in American standard measurements with some metric measures included (yay!).  The nutritional information is not included.  Each recipe includes a header with a short description of the recipe and approximate servings. Extra tips or recipe alternatives are listed in text boxes in the recipes. The recipes themselves are fairly straightforward and are made for the most part with easily sourced ingredients. Many are very simple, none of them are overly complex. The photography is abundant and clear and the recipes are illustrated simply and clearly. The photography is one of the highlights of this book.

This would make a great choice for the cook's home library. It's a really good solid volume on entertaining and it also includes quite a good selection of finger-foods, appetizers, small bites, and brunch dishes as well as lots of holiday special type dishes (not just Christmas/Hanukkah) . 

Five stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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