A raki dinner is as much about the company as it is the food, so it’s a good idea to fill your table with the right mix of people. Think about the size of your table and the space you have, making sure everyone has enough room to sit and eat comfortably. As it’s winter, a little bit of elbowing can be forgiven; a room full will ward off that winter chill.
Keep it simple. Prepare! The most important part of a raki table is the conversation, not the food. Of course a dinner is important, but it’s the conversations that people remember not how great your dolmas were.
Light candles to get the ambience going. The raki table is traditionally an evening event, in the darkness of the winter months the warm glow from a bunch of candles will perfectly set the scene for the night.
Don’t forget the ice! You may want to be toasty, but Yeni Raki is best served cold. Keep an ice bucket at hand to chill the water to perfection. Remember to keep the flow by checking glasses frequently, filling up when required.
You don’t have to be a dab hand in the kitchen to go Mediterranean. There’s some sure-fire shortcuts you can adopt to bring the essence of the Med to your table, such as shop-bought olives, good cured meats and quality cheese (one soft, one hard and sharp and one mild).
Give yourself plenty of time. It’s the little things that take longer than you think. Plan your ingredients and try and shop the day before if you can. Do your prep work in the morning or early afternoon. So you can be cool, calm and collected for when your guests arrive.
Variety is key. Make sure you have a meat or fish dish, a vegetable, a starch, a fruit, something spicy, something sweet. Ensuring you have one of each will give you a balanced table.
Cook family-style food and serve everything on big platters. Getting your guests serve themselves encourages conversation and interaction.