A few weeks ago we hosted a dinner party for a group of friends. The idea is a "supper club", where once a month someone from the group has everyone over for dinner. With busy jobs and some of our friends with kids, this is a perfect opportunity to catch up with each other and relax over a good meal.
I thought it would be interesting to share some photos of the table setting and the main course. I love setting up a table. It's a blank canvas in which you can create any mood or feeling. It's like setting a stage. I have always preferred to start with what kind of mood I want to create, as opposed to a theme. Is it a casual meal? What time of day will you be eating? Is it for a group of women or will there be couples? This all plays into the choices of plates, flowers or candles (or no candles).
For this particular evening, I wanted the table to feel earthy and green and slightly masculine. I wanted the juxtaposition of our fine wedding china (I fully believe in using what you have, not hide it away) with our colorful, cobalt blue octopus plates. Yes, they have a giant octopus on the plate and I got them from Anthropologie. I added a lot of clear glass votives and gold striped shot glasses (which I turned into candle votives for this occasion). Small, green orange juice glasses I picked up in Morocco for about $.50 became small vases for groups of gardenia that I snipped from outside. I scattered these glasses across the table to add some uniformity. A tall, spindly yellow plant sits in the center. I planted it in a heavy stone planter to contrast all the glass.
Ideally, I find that when serving a large group of people the best main course is something that you can put in the oven for however long and then just take out when you're ready to serve. Keep the dishes that take a lot of prep work after cooking for when you have a few people over, or family and they don't mind chipping in. It also doesn't hurt to find a delicious recipe that looks beautiful! I found this recipe from Tyler Florence: Family Meal . It's a beef braciola with a layer of toasted bread crumbs, garlic and parsley with fresh mozzarella, roasted red pepper and anchovies all rolled up and tied with twine. You roast it alongside tomatoes, garlic, onions and lots of fresh thyme. This becomes the gravy when the beef is done roasting.
The one regret of the evening was that I didn't take any pictures of us enjoying the dinner! After all, what's the point of having a lovely table and delicious food if you don't relish the people you're with!