I love and hate doing a Dinner Party. I love the sense of occasion, the food, the wine, the conversation. The thing I love most of all is setting the table.
This is always a joy and usually takes at least a week of planning. We don’t do impromptu Dinners. It’s far too stressful. There are so few times now when you can really enjoy a sense of occasion but setting a beautiful table is a ritual for me. Alex loves helping when she is around, as she loves flowers. She does the floral arrangement and we discuss the flowers at length. I think it always works best when she picks things from the garden and tonight is no exception. She says she likes to add a little bit of ‘tension’ into the arrangement by not making it too symmetrical. I found it really odd at first as I am a symmetrical sort of person but now I really like her style, even if I do tend to have to look at it with my head to one side until it sinks into my consciousness.
Tonight we are celebrating our Friends’ wedding anniversary and we wanted to dine at House of Tides but they were full and Chris volunteered because he loves Kenny Atkinson’s style of cooking.
As our house is an ungovernable mix of old, new and a bit of Bonkers, we don’t even lay a table cloth in the way that is conventional. Alex thinks that our theme should be Great Expectations meets Game of Thrones, so she has raided the house to find her pieces. Plates are so important and setting the table in a way that people don’t expect always starts a conversation. Except when our friends came over from the States to visit and they went round the table straightening up all the cutlery because they thought Alex had done it wrong.
We collect, or should I say I collect. I collect things that really appeal to me but maybe no one else, and Chris collects foods ingredients and plates. Even Oliver has started collecting. By now we must have every condiment known to man.
As there is a real sense of occasion to this, the choice of plates has been at the heart of a deep discussion. Chris wants the plates that he saw at House of Tides last time and Alex wants to mix them up. I, being the symmetrical person that I am want them mixed up symmetrically.
Tonight we are experimenting with layering. We are using a big dinner plate as a charger plate (yes they are coming back) and then putting the side plate not to the side but on the charger plate. Not like in the old days when we were young, where hotels would use all the same patterned china. Here we are using different but complimentary plates and alternating the way they are set up (a little bit symmetrical I am happy to say).
Alex even loves the pieces she has found to set the scene. See my odd taste comes in handy after all.
The end result? We all have what we want and doesn’t it look beautiful? Even if I do say so myself.
Anyway, we’re off. Appetisers first; Crab Blinis, accompanied by Champagne. We wanted Crab mini Crumpets but we live in the Styx, not central London so we will have to do with Blinis.
I realise I haven’t told you what I hate about Dinner Parties… the clearing up of course!
NB. The Glasses shown in the photograph are Black Stem Hering Berling glasses and are made to order. In addition the Mepra Silver & Bronze Cutlery are speacial order items. Contact us for further details.