According to research consultants HIM, 26% of shoppers believe that their local convenience store would not have enough choice for them to be able to serve up a full evening meal, let alone conjure up a posh dinner party. 

Clearly, not all stores offer canapé ingredients along with their catfood, and neither should they it’s all about location and satisfying demand, after all. I was able to find everything I needed for a sophisticated dinner party by shopping locally, After all, there are a loads of great small stores out there offering an appetising mix of premium branded and fantastic quality local goods capable of impressing even the most exacting dinner party hostess. 

Given that pricey restaurant bills are set to stick in the nation’s throats for some time to come, there are even greater opportunities for convenience stores to prove to shoppers that they are about more than just bread and milk. 

Cooking tonight 

Fortunately, we at Convenience Store are often lucky to enough to get first taste of new products to review, and so my dinner party nibbles included a sample of Tyrrell’s new premium popcorn to put to the test on my guests. The light bites went down a storm, as did the pre-dinner bottle of Hardys Nottage Hill sauvignon blanc. 

The starter was a tad more complicated, involving a mixture of products from small producers. Using premium oak-smoked salmon, own label sour cream, Colmans horseradish sauce and a lemon, I planned to make some premium Jamie Oliver-inspired fishy crostini. 

However, my plans were almost scuppered by the local c-store’s bakery section, which at 6.30pm was looking rather sorry for itself. Fortunately, I managed to grab the last two baguettes and my starter was safe. 

For the main course I opted to try a recipe that I’d seen advertised on TV by Kraft’s Philadelphia brand. Using a tub of black pepper and spring onion Philadelphia, chicken breasts and locally produced bacon, I was able to whip up a simple yet impressive-looking main course. Green beans and new potatoes made up the required ‘two veg’, and it was all washed down with Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay. 

The wine’s creamy flavours made a perfect accompaniment to the white sauce, before the crisp fruity notes freshened our mouths for the next bite. 

After all that, nobody had enough space for a dessert so instead I served coffee and mint tea (great for digestion) along with classic After Eights. The perfect end to a great night.

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Big night in: Dinner dates
Big night in: Quality counts