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.
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