There is little that I enjoy more than gathering my friends at home for supper. I love to cook, I love to entertain and I love designing the entire tabletop. As my friend Alex said over this dinner last week, when everyone sat down to the meal I am describing here, this is pretty much what Sasha does every time she has people over, regardless of client or guests.
I derive huge pleasure from making an environment look beautiful and, because I’ve been doing this for years, it takes me very little time. The key is to do things like lay the table the night before, and collect lovely crockery and cutlery. I use the good stuff every day – I’ve had enough of saving things for best. I like my everyday to be just as nice as my so-called special days.
For this supper I teamed up with my friends at Amara, the online interiors company, which is the not-so-hidden secret of some of the most stylish people I know. After several years of selling a tightly edited selection from some of the world’s best interiors companies, (think Kartell to Ralph Lauren, Fornasetti to Tom Dixon), they’ve taken the plunge and launched the eponymous Amara Collection, from which everything you see on my table in this post was taken.
Luis Dinner Plate £15.00 Luis Salad Plate – White £10.00 Luis Bowl – White £12.00 Paloma 24-piece cutlery set £300.00
Cap Esterel Dish – Small £50.00 Severn Glass Tumbler – £9.00 Nordal Clear French Wine Glass £7.50
I invited a group of friends – Alex Fury and Joseph Larkowsky, Emily Cronin, Claudia Bailie, Becky Sunshine and Stairey Stemp and astonishingly they all turned up on time, which gave them plenty of time to eat all the cheese toasties whilst I finished off the pudding.
I had woken up very early on Monday morning (5am – shudder) to drive to New Covent Garden Flower Market at Nine Elms to choose the flowers for the table: with the beautiful gold cutlery, and the pretty gold shell dishes, I knew I was looking for something to provide a contrast. As with the menu (below), I like to use seasonal flowers and in October for me that means dahlias.
After twenty minutes prowling around the aisles I chose four different blooms, in a clear white, a pink-tinged cream, a dark burgundy and a clearer red, all of which I knew would contrast well against a neutral cloth.
I spent some time thinking about seasonal ingredients. Amara is a British company, proudly based in the English countryside and so I was determined to use autumnal food in my menu. I also kept it pretty much all English, apart from a sidebar across to France for pre-dinner canapes, because I couldn’t resist the jar of freshly pumped truffle and white wine mustard that arrived on my desk last week.
I also made the entire menu vegetarian – the produce is just so good in October that it felt a shame not to make it the star of the show. I used meaty ceps and big flat Portobello mushrooms in my fricassee, and spent a very productive and stress-busting quarter of an hour hacking pumpkins into crescents with a meat cleaver.
So, we ate:
Beforehand: Prosecco & tiny cheese toasties: Grilled Pain de Poilane with Brie de Meaux and Moutarde de Maille aux truffes
First Course: Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke) soup, truffle oil, home made soda bread
Main Course: Mushroom fricassee, barley pilaf. Roasted cauliflower, green herb sauce.
Roasted pumpkin, hazelnuts, feta. Chiffonaded brussels sprouts & savoy cabbage, lemon, chilli
Pudding: Homemade vanilla ice cream, damson ripple. Apple and quince walnut crumble
Homemade soda bread.
Mushroom fricasse, barley pilaf – Luis Dinner Plate £15.00
Home made vanilla ice cream, damson ripple
Apple and quince walnut crumble
I do think that lighting is important, and these Wrightwood Tealight Holders (Set of 2 £40.00) are just the right size to properly illuminate a dining table. We also placed a pair in the hallway to set the atmosphere as the guests arrived.
Of course, we sent everyone home with a gift – or two. These glorious alpaca herringbone throws from Amara, an Amara clove and orange scented candle and a velvet bag of skin heaven from my friends at Aurelia skincare.
Napkins: Heal’s Linen Napkin – Slate £10.00
Floor lamp: Dorine Floor Lamp £189.00
Cushions: Pure Silk Cushion – Chalk Grey £30.00
White charger plate: Luis Charger Plate £30.00
White main course plate: Luis Dinner Plate £15.00
White salad plate: Luis Salad Plate – White £10.00
Salad bowl: Port Cros White Salad Bowl £25.00
Soup plate/pudding bowl: Port Cros White Soup Plate £15.00
White bowl: Luis Bowl – White £12.00
Cream bowl: Dalton Cream Bowl £10.00
Dish for dips: Ivel Bowl – Grey £25.00
Cutlery: Paloma 24-piece cutlery set £300.00
Water tumblers: Severn Glass Tumbler £9.00
Water jug: Severn Jug £24.00
Red wine glasses: Nordal Clear French Wine Glass £7.50
White wine glasses:
Bar tray: Meden Round Tray – Titanium Golf £300.00
Ice bucket: Liza Wine Cooler £160.00
Gold scallop shell dishes: Cap Esterel Dish – Small £50.00
Tealight holders: Wrightwood Tealight Holders – Set of 2 £40.00
Teacups and saucers: Luis Teacup and Saucer – White £18.00
Espresso cups and saucers: Port Cros White Espresso Cup and Saucer £10.00
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This post was written in collaboration with Amara to celebrate the launch of the new AW16 Amara Collection