Planning a menu for a Parisian-inspired bridal shower may seem quite intimidating. How does one prepare dishes and desserts that live up to France’s haute cuisine reputation and yet remain accessible to today’s practical bride? Go light! A light menu, that is. In truth, a bridal shower menu usually consists of relatively light fare, not normally intended as a full multi-course feast. Thus, it is possible to set out an array of well-loved French specialties offering something for everyone—with most of the dishes and treats being surprisingly simple to prepare or to purchase ready to serve.
Offer Up Light But Satisfying French Specialties
A fitting tribute to French fine dining would be a simple, yet stylish menu card at each guest’s place setting. Having the list of dishes and desserts printed in an elegant font on textured craft paper is a gracious way of priming the guests for the special meal that awaits them.
A cheese fondue—although essentially Swiss, rather than French—is a great appetizer to start off the party. A fondue set in the center of each table instantly engages the guests and encourages conversation as they dip bite-sized sections of French bread and sliced and cubed vegetables into the warm, melted cheese.
Set small pots of liver pâté and caviar on each table, ready for spreading on slices of French baguettes. Add some zing to the appetizers with basil-and-onion or peppered crackers, with their flavors delicately complemented by a selection of Brie, Camembert, Boursin, and other cheeses.
For Soup & Salad:
Following these appetizers, serve a light Salade Niçoise—its combination of tomatoes, green beans, tuna flakes, anchovies, potatoes and hard-boiled eggs providing a refreshing contrast to the cheeses and spreads. Then offer a thick, creamy lobster bisque as a warm, flavorful prelude to the more filling dishes to come.
For the Main Entrees:
To serve as “main dishes,” present a spread of small French-inspired entrees for guests to choose from. Include the ever-popular Quiche Lorraine, either in individual mini-pastry shells or in wedges cut from a whole pie. In addition, serve crusty sandwiches such as Croque Monsieur filled with grilled ham and Gruyère cheese, or freshly baked croissants holding ham slices or flaked chicken or tuna.
Bring Out the Bubbly
A French meal would not be complete without an appropriate wine, such as an elegant chardonnay. And for such a happy occasion as this shower, indulge with Dom Perignon served in chic champagne flutes.
When it comes time for dessert, an aromatic selection of after-dinner teas and coffees would bring the meal to a fitting close. Offer guests French Vanilla coffee or brewed French Roast coffee infused with a shot of orange liqueur and generously topped with whipped cream as delightful accompaniments to the desserts.
Present Exquisite Desserts
Capture the atmosphere of a chic Parisian pâtisserie in the selection of dessert items and pastries served after the meal. Serve such irresistible treats as bowls of luscious fresh strawberries served with cream and chocolate ganache, mini terrines of golden-topped crème brûlée, flambéed sliced bananas drizzled with Grand Marnier sauce, and cream-filled, chocolate-covered profiteroles.
Set out an enticing assortment of delicate pastries and sweets such as Macaron de Paris, madeleines, meringues, petit fours, and chocolate eclairs displayed in oval porcelain dishes. Or better yet, arrange them on a tiered stand at the center of the dessert table to make a scrumptious edible centerpiece.
French Cuisine Within Your Reach
A Parisian-themed bridal shower deserves nothing less than a delectable menu of French-inspired dishes and desserts. Seemingly daunting, this is actually doable—by assembling a selection of popular French specialties that are either simple to prepare or readily available in food outlets, pastry shops, and wine stores. The result is haute cuisine made accessible, but still suitably scrumptious.
- – Croque Monsieur – A selection of recipes and variations of this sandwich
- – Quiche Lorraine – From the website of Betty Crocker
- – Salad Niçoise – Sarah Moulton’s recipe on the Food Network