Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Novel Dinner

Come over for dinner at 6:30pm, we told our friends. That way, we can have as much time together as possible. With the kids back in school and everyone finally in the same town again, we can sit down properly and catch up on everybody's summer.

Who's ready for another cucumber martini?
(All photos by LBG.)

Here's the menu I taped to the front door. Did I mention the dinner had a literary theme?

(Created with my Bamboo pen.)

My friend Lucy hosted a wonderful potluck literary dinner recently and I was keen to come up with my own version. I made the same dish I brought to her house, my ridiculously easy "Thomas Hardy" salad, inspired by the wild, earthy Wessex landscape in The Return of the Native

Thomas Hardy Salad  
by A Bloomsbury Life

1 cup cooked quinoa 
1 package wild arugula
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 diced seedless cucumber
1 sliced avocado
1 package edible nasturtium flowers

Toss all ingredients with mustard vinaigrette.  

I asked my husband Piero to come up with titles for his own dishes -- guacamole, roasted salmon and root vegetables -- and I love his choices, don't you?

For dessert, there were two options, one vegan and one decidedly not. For an egg-and-dairy-free friend, I made jam drop cookies that I dubbed "Walden Cookies" for their nutty simplicity (recipe HERE). The second dessert I named "Lady Chatterley's Cake" because it was a highbrow/lowbrow mix of chocolate and dark Guinness ale --  and it really did ooze with sensuality (recipe HERE). 

Listening through the window while getting dinner ready

Tantalizing bits of conversation wafted inside as Piero and I set up the kitchen for a family-style buffet. After a long summer of not doing much besides writing, it felt so wonderful to entertain again. Good friends, good food, good conversation -- as Sybille Bedford wrote in her novel Jigsaw, these are "the pointillist touches" that make life sublime.

  Boy, girl, boy, girl, please

What I treasure about having people over for dinner is the opportunity we get to actually look each other in the eye and talk about absolutely nothing in particular. There's no agenda, there's no plan, and for a brief moment in time, there's no hurry. There are a million definitions of living well, but to me, sharing a meal with friends is way up there.

"Wherever else our evening was spent would be a sense of elation,
 of being en fete, of sharing the pleasure of the moment."

Sybille Bedford, Jigsaw


Jane said...

Lisa you are amazing. Almost enough to convert me back to Thomas Hardy.

What about Proust's macaroons, Nancy Mitford's delicate high tea sandwiches (egg, cucumber or chicken breat with mayonnaise), Giuseppe de Lampedusa chilli and breadcrumb pappardelle And for Australian readers Tim Wintons mixed lobster and seafood grill with lemon police oil and garlic.

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

I am so stealing this for my annual early December dinner! Hmm - may use a Dickens theme - love this sort of thing and so do my pals. You are right - chatting with friends over a leisurely meal, wine and candlelight is one of life's pleasures. How about a Lizzie Bennett Trifle?

Lily said...

What a lovely evening and feast, quite befitting the ambassadress of Bloomsbury! Conjuring up literary ghosts for the guest list one can never go wrong...

Beautiful Things - Cathy said...

What a fantastic idea! Looks like you had a great evening. xx

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Thanks for a sparking an idea and just confirming what I have always thought- dinner and entertaining does not need to be complicated. Gorgeous pictures!!!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Jane: Love all those ideas! xx

WMM: Ooh, a Dickens theme, now you're talking to my heart! xx

Lily: If only you were there too! xx

Beautiful Things:
Best of all, it was super casual, which is always a good thing, especially when there's a lot of eating. :)

Acanthus and Acorn:
Strangely enough, the more simple it is, the more memorable it is too. xx

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful menu, I'd be bursting with excitement before I even got to the table.

WMM - check out my "Dickens Pie recipe" it's delicious, scents the air as it cooks, and is redolent of old Mr Fezziwig.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Bourbon & Pearls:
I'm going to check out that menu too!

Jane the Booklady said...

How tempting it all sounds. You have inspired me into getting social and scholarly.

Miriana said...

Sounds wonderful just as everything that you do! You are a source of endless inspiration. As I started reading "Come over for dinner at 6:30 pm", I said 'yes' out loud!

P.s. Your post titled reminded me of the newly published book "The Novel Cure: an A-Z of Literary remedies"... you might enjoy it!

Cathi said...

What a wonderful menu and fabulous evening, there is nothing better than an evening with friends and family! Your salad sounds delicious - I'm definitely going to be making it soon!

Emily said...

One of the main reasons I do not do facebook is because so many of my local friends are on it, and this is how they keep up with each other. I want to catch up over a cuppa or a nice dinner....in person! I love hosting dinners, and I am going to be more creative with my next gathering! I think a literary themed dinner would be great for my book loving girlfriends!

debbie bailey said...

What a good idea! I loved this post! And your photography is stellar.

Unknown said...

sharing a meal is the best. I love the earlier commenter's idea of a Dickens theme too. We try to entertain a few times a month and it's totally my favorite thing to do too. Something about good friends, good food, good drinks, meaning of life right there.

Slim Paley said...

How Lovely. I too might have to nic this idea :-)
May I ask what your "bamboo pen" is?

by land by air by sea said...

One of your best posts...the illustrations are very Maira Kalman and the blurry black and whites evoke the night beautifully. Just lovely.


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