A Dinner Party at Home but which one?
Tell me, do you often entertain in your home?
Our London flat might not be very big but it’s still a lovely setting, with Big Ben in view from our terrace and our living room sporting three large windows for plenty of light. If I’m honest though, even if it was a dark, sad and cramped space, I would still probably jump at any occasion to have friends over.
I love to cook, I always have. It genuinely makes me happy to try my hand at new seasonal recipes, to fill my home with the fragrant smell of fresh herbs being chopped and vegetables roasting in the pan. To arrange a pretty flower bouquet picked at the local market over the weekend and to debate with Rob which bottle of wine to open before guests arrive like it’s a critical matter (isn’t it though?). Perhaps this love of cooking is typically Mediterranean and as for hosting, in my case I strongly suspect that it’s a heritage that comes from my childhood in Provence.
I remember long slow sunny days as my parents’ group of friends (they must have been at least six different couples and all with kids) came to set up camp in our slightly untamed garden for a Saturday filled with games and laughter, nibbles and fresh lemonade, fish grilling on the barbecue with a mix of peppers, artichokes and aubergines roasting in their spicy coatings. As the evening came on, they would bundle us kids up in one of the bedrooms in a cocoon of pillows and stuffed toys with board games, fruit sorbet and a great film to boot (like Hook or Back to the Future, we liked our classics) while the adults would chat the night away in the garden by the light of the citronella oil lamps (mosquitoes can be ravenous in the South of France!). Sometimes we would doze off to wake up around 3am and tiptoe back down the stairs to gaze at them laughing and dancing to cheerful latin music or disco favourites.
I feel so fortunate that my parents had such a great group of friends, that we had people around most weekends and that there was so much life and music in my home. Living away from my family now, and home as I knew it growing up, I think I always try and remind myself that friendships are something that one should cultivate and nurture, even if we have busy lives, even if there are a million things to do on weekends (and God knows life admin swallows up my whole Saturdays sometimes).
But it is so important to make time, to surround yourself with like-minded people who will be there for you, support you in your problems and celebrate you in your successes, people to go on adventures with! Especially in a big city like London, where it can feel like everyone is sort of passing through, in a transient state before they finish their studies, or buy somewhere where they can afford a house, and because it’s such an international melting pot, I’ve had my fair share of friends that I “lost” to a new phase of their lives.
This is why it is so important, I think, to jump at any chance to have friends over, to encourage family to visit and host them even if you don’t have a guest bedroom (we usually sleep on the couch!), to entertain the people in your life in a home that you love. Furniture Village have asked me to tell them what my ideal dining room to entertain would be and as you can tell from the long pondering this has inspired, it is not an easy question to answer!
I am drawn to two completely different aesthetics when it comes to home, I feel. From growing up in Provence, I’m attracted to a bright colour palette of whites, the honesty of sturdy wood furniture and an assumed rustic feel. But I’m a long way from the South and in London the way we’ve started to furnish our home over the last year is all about retro statement pieces and graphic details. Two moods that are quite different and definitely influence the menu I serve at dinner parties. See for yourself and let me know which one you are more attracted to:
Rustic Dining Room Picks
At home when I have friends over in the summer I will likely serve a selection of starters to pick and mix from such as olives, goat’s cheese cubes, sun-dried tomatoes, parma ham and melon (yes, it goes really well together!). As main, grilled fish or meat would be a must, with fresh vegetables from the garden to accompany it in a simple olive oil and basil dressing. For dessert, I tend to go back to classics and would probably bake a fresh homemade tart, like lemon or raspberry. To keep everyone hydrated (well, sort of), I would pick a lovely rosé.
Midcentury Dining Room Picks
In London, having friends over is a slightly more sophisticated affair. I love to try and bring fusion food to the table, play with textures and come up with unexpected flavour combinations. So as a starter, I would probably serve fresh scallops, just seared in the pan with honey and thyme. For the main course, I like the idea of making pasta from scratch, perhaps a posh tortellini with a venison and truffle filling, with a medley of exotic mushrooms on the side. For dessert, it would have to be a luxurious chocolate torte, perhaps with a thin layer of peanut butter sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The wine would be a dry white, and if I really want to go the extra mile, I would serve homemade cocktails before the meal, like a rich dark and stormy or an old fashioned.
Which dinner party would you prefer to be invited to? Do you often entertain in your home? What do you serve?
Disclosure: This post is a collaboration between Furniture Village and Hecticophilia. If you’re interested in working with me, please head to my About page and get in touch.