Exotic eats

Dazzle your dinner guests with an evening of international cuisine

Over the past 15 years, there has been a boom in the popularity of ethnic food. Many of us delight in foreign delicacies, but shy away from trying to reproduce these mouth-watering flavours at home. But preparing international cuisine doesn’t have to be as complicated as it tastes. For easy, exotic meals, just look to the classic examples set by Italy and France, as well as “fused” Asian flair. Leave your passports at home—these quick and easy mouth-watering menus will effortlessly transport you to another world.

Italian bouquet:
La Dolce Eat-a
It’s funny that the epitome of fast food is the Italian pizza, because nothing could be more un-Italian than rushing through lunch or dinner. Savouring a lovingly prepared meal over a couple bottles of wine and good conversation is the true Italian way. Olive oil, pancetta (bacon), balsamic vinegar, arborio rice and Parmesan cheese are a few essential Italian items you might already have on hand. Add fresh herbs like basil and parsley and you’re ready for an authentic feast. Bon appetito!

·Porcini mushroom risotto
·Veal scallopini à la Romano
·Balsamic green beans and pancetta
·Sophisticated raspberry semifreddo

Wine match: Try an elegant Pinot Noir or a soft Sauvignon Blanc.

French cuisine: The fresh confection
Instead of focusing on typically “French” dishes laden with heavy cream sauces, the following menu highlights the importance of fresh ingredients and herbs. Tarragon, for example, boosts the sweetness of sauces and salad dressings and, in this menu, helps make ubiquitous zucchini a star. Lamb chops and sausages smothered in red wine and beans are sure to be a hit combo, but remember to stock up on bread—you’ll want to sop up every last trace of this delectable sauce.

·Tomatoes provencale
·Everyday sensational cassoulet
·Simca’s creamy zucchini
·Lemon custard pie

Wine match: Choose a heady Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz/Syrah to complement the lamb.

Asian Fusion: East meets west
If you’ve got sesame oil, hot chili garlic sauce, hoisin, oyster or teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar or limes, you can cook up meals with distinctive Asian flavours. Take salad dressing, for example: instead of olive oil and red wine vinegar, use peanut and sesame oils with rice vinegar. Toss in some chopped garlic, grated ginger, teriyaki sauce and a pinch of sugar. You’ll end up with a frisky salad that sings with the mysteries of the Far East.

·Chili-garlic shrimp with red peppers
·Smoky sesame rice with sweet peppers
·Fast Thai salmon
·Watercress-garlic stir-fry

Wine match: The variety of flavours in an Asian meal makes it difficult to match a single wine to a single course, but fruity wines like a Riesling or Pinot Blanc are a good start.

Get Chatelaine in your inbox!

Our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers. Delivered a couple of times a week.