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Read All About It : From once-obscure Asian cuisines to classic French to the lastest grain craze, the variety of cookbooks available for gift giving swells as Christmas approaches. To help cull the best from the rest, The Times' Food Staff has reviewed the year's most intriguing cookbooks. : New York Parties: The Art of Hosting by Jean Michel Savoca and Boyce Brawley (Rizzoli: $45, 231 pages, 150 photographs).

December 17, 1989|MINNIE BERNARDINO

The art of hosting is eloquently imparted by the authors, owners of New York Parties Catering, not just for a coffee-table feast for the eyes but as a bible for entertaining. Catering parties for the rich and famous for more than 14 years, whether dinners range from 2,000 or an intimate group of 10, Savoca and Brawley share hosting guidelines to ensure a smooth event.

No matter if the host is doing all the cooking himself, the pictures in the book trigger a great number of ideas on how to present food and create the right ambience. The authors stress impeccable planning. This is noted in the 23 favorite party designs and menus featured in this big book. Some memorable examples include: a Chinese buffet by the pool, a Japanese picnic at the Botanic Garden, a Thai dinner at home, a tented spring wedding and a charming Victorian tea. The tea chapter for instance even includes a description of 16 different teas plus a guide on how to properly brew tea.

There are 170 innovative recipes from these lavish parties such as Italian seafood salad, turkey tamales with red chile sauce, breast of duck with chartreuse, a roast goose with apple stuffing and chocolate pate with pistachio cream sauce.

Although the color illustrations include many table settings and arranged party rooms, many of the recipes also are photographed. A ways and means chapter helps you achieve your goal of entertaining successfully within budget.

Throughout the book, there are hundreds of important serving and decorating tips, unique and daring ideas, etiquette guidelines and thoughtful suggestions to make your guests comfortable.

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