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  • Illustrations by Mr Antony Hare
  • Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher, Features Editor, MR PORTER

Whether you've just started dating, or you've been married for a decade, few gestures are as well received as a home-cooked meal. The bad news is that it needs to be cooked by you, but the good news is that this puts you in charge of the food, drink, china, cutlery, décor, lighting and music. The first two of these are dealt with in our slides, above, where we've recommended six perfect food and drink pairings, while for the rest we have come up with the following 10 suggestions to make it the perfect dinner.

  • China and cutlery should be simple, perfectly clean and must not be chipped.
  • Glasses should also be spotless, and appropriate for the kind of wine you're going to serve. We like Zalto's extraordinary Denk'Art glasses. zaltoglas.at
  • Serving wine at the appropriate temperature, and, if necessary, decanting it, makes a big difference to the taste. To learn about serving wine look at the "Wine Knowledge" section of the Berry Brothers & Rudd website. bbr.com
  • Plain-coloured linen napkins will add a noticeable touch of class to proceedings, but a tablecloth is not necessary.
  • Have a wooden pepper mill and a saucer of flaked sea salt on the table.
  • Put butter on a dish, and make sure it isn't covered in crumbs.
  • Lighting should be low and atmospheric, without being gloomy, and candles on the table should be new.
  • It's probably too late to redesign your kitchen, but do give it a thorough clean before you start cooking. And dig out some fresh tea towels.
  • Music is very personal, but you won't go wrong with The Best of the Complete Savoy & Dial Studio Recordings by Mr Charlie Parker. Unless, of course, you're allergic to jazz, in which case we suggest My Bloody Valentine's new album mbv.
  • Protect your outfit while you cook by wearing a masculine denim apron, an item that's easier to find online than you might think.

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