Today I’m sharing with you the story of a dinner. It’s a very long story. Tldr; I hosted a pretty summer dinner and you already saw the pictures. End of story 😉
You could call hosting and planning gatherings an obsession of mine. I love to dream up and craft every detail. I crave planning; even as I’m packing up the last tote at midnight and I swear I’ll never pack a tote full of dishes again, I’m beginning to plan the next one in my head. One of these days I’ll have my own event space and I won’t have to pack 15 totes full of dishes and glassware and ingredients and extension cords, and then load a trailer full of wooden tables and benches and ladders, etc.
One of these days. But until then, I’ll keep chugging away, packing, unpacking, and hoping Joe doesn’t stop allowing me to use his schlepping services. Especially if I can keep using magical venues like this one. I just can’t help myself; creating a beautiful space for others to commune and fellowship is just so incredibly fulfilling.
Just a few weeks ago, I partnered with Sunday Suppers on their Sobremesa Dinner Series. SOBREMESA is Spanish for the time after a meal when the food is gone, but the conversation around the table continues.
The best word I can come up with in English is LINGER. I wish there were a word for Sobremesa in English, because it encompasses that cherished time so well; my favorite part of the meal. When appetites have been satisfied, relationships have been made, conversation continues, and community is built. When the candles have melted into the tablecloth and the flame flickers low.
The dinner was, for lack of a better word, incredible. I love how each gathering brings together a different mix of people – both guests and those who are helping behind the scenes. Each gathering has a unique feel and flair and I love seeing the beauty of each unfold. Everything came together so wonderfully and our guests were so gracious and excited about being together. It’s always a joy to be at La Montagne at Bluemont and be surrounded by so much history and pastoral charm.
For this dinner, our guests joined us in the kitchen for some communal cooking. We made gorgeous squid ink tortillas together, and whipped up the largest bowl of charred jalapeño guacamole I’ve ever seen. I loved this element of inviting guests into the kitchen area to help cook; it creates a casual, intimate atmosphere and opens up avenues of communication and vulnerability that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I was honored and overjoyed to partner with Karen and the Sunday Suppers team on this dinner, and am thankful for this opportunity.
Here are lots of dinner details, for those who are curious…
For this June gathering, which featured communal tacos as the main dish, I wanted to take the dinner in a muted, modern, minimal fiesta direction. I didn’t want to fuss over anything. The goal was to create a welcoming space where a meal would be shared, with good food, quality ingredients, and lots of intentionality. The table details were very simple: white plates, linen napkins, drop cloth tablecloth, modern glassware, black flatware, and a bold and modern menu.
DINNER TABLE DECOR
For “florals” I wanted something unconventional. Something quirky. Something modern. So, I RAN to my friends Lori and Colleen at wldwst, and hoped they’d be available to work with me. I showed them my pinterest inspiration board and they were 100% on board. They dreamt up this fantastic palm frond installation. This installation brings me LIFE, y’all. It’s so muted and dramatic and freaking brilliant. I don’t want to give away too many of their secrets, but all you NEED to know is that underneath all those palm fronds are these things called armatures (a new word to me….basically a metal framework), and they’re made from chicken wire. Like I said, they’re geniuses. I want to make installations like this for everything now. I’ll probably try my hand at armatures sometime in the future, so watch out.
We set up pre-dinner drinks and appetizers alongside a charming white fence, under the canopy of a few centuries’ old trees. Large bistro lights hung from the trees, and a handful of stumps were used for seats or tables. One long folding table held the appetizers and agua fresca and another small table held the wine. A basket of Corona, because it’s my favorite beer and it paired so well with our menu! Lori and Colleen painted a few terra cotta vases (#muted) and filled them with quirky, painted tropical fronds. They styled them impeccably, with tropical fruit and Spanish moss.
The menu, which was designed by the Sunday Suppers team, was unbelievable. It was so simple, yet nuanced. It was full of flavor, approachable, and interesting. I practiced most of the recipes in the weeks prior to the dinner, after grocery shopping the day before, my sister and I prepped as much as possible. Then, on the day of, I had a small army in the kitchen, and I was able to focus on all the other details and our guests!
When guests arrived, we had a display of sliced summer fruit, simply sprinkled with lime juice and sumac. We also served beet cured eggs with creme fraîche, and Manchego cheese with blood orange jam. My new, awesome friends at Pop Culture Craft Pops provided perfectly summery Basil Lemonade and Watermelon Mojito popsicles, and Hibiscus Watermelon Agua Fresca (we spiked it with some white wine!). These fruity treats were out of this world delicious! Standby for info about Pop Culture’s GRAND OPENING in Purcellville, later this month!!
For dinner, our first course was sopa de lima, which we served plated. Then we had communal tacos, which were the most delicious, flavorful tacos I’ve ever had. Homemade squid ink tortillas, coconut + cacao black beans, curried cauliflower, green crema, lime pickled vegetables, charred jalapeño guacamole, cilantro + onion, and lots of cotija cheese. HEAVEN ON EARTH. I love a good family style meal, especially among “strangers” because you have no option but to talk to your neighbor and ask for food to be passed. And the act of passing the food is just so unifying. Love it!
Dessert was Chocolate Avocado Pudding with cream, cinnamon, and hazelnuts. And Pop Culture Craft Pops made the most delectable Buttermilk Popsicles. Buttermilk pops have got to be the most understated popsicles I’ve EVER had. You need to try them out!
Without our guests, these dinners wouldn’t be possible! They’re the reason, and my goal is to create the most welcoming, beautiful, and simple space possible for our guests. This group was a seriously incredible group, and I loved getting to know them! We had a farmer, a farmer’s market organizer, two women from the Air Force, a popsicle shop owner, two floral designers, a journalist, a designer, and so many more! Thank you all SO much for trusting us for the evening!
As always, I could have not have pulled off this dinner without a handful (more like a few handsful) of help from friends. This time, because of ALL the incredible help, I was actually able to sit at the table and feast with my guests, and it was simply magical. Here are the people responsible for the day:
Paula Bartosiewicz Photography :: My dear friend Paula captured the day, from start to finish. Her work is incredible, and evokes so much emotion. Paula, thanks for so wonderfully documenting our time together. You are such a talented artist!
wldwst :: LORI AND COLLEEN. You two are a dynamic force and I love the things you create together! Thanks for understanding muted, modern, and minimal fiesta, and DELIVERING 1000%! Also, you guys know how to dress for a muted siesta + fiesta.
Pop Culture Craft Pops :: I randomly met Holly and Joel at the Luckett’s Spring Market in May, and fell in LOVE with their pops. I mean, I already loved popsicles, but they are true masters and take popsicle-ing to a new level of incredible. They’re opening up a store in Purcellville in July 2018, so standby for more about that on my Instagram! You MUST try their buttermilk pop. It’s drool-worthy.
Christina, Abigail, Rachel, Lauren :: My faithful friends and family who were there with me from the beginning of the day when we unloaded the vehicles, kept the kitchen running in the middle of the day, all the way to the end of the day when every dish was washed, packed up, and loaded back into the vehicles. You ladies are a blessing and an integral part of this community. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Joe :: My husband, my muscles, my babysitter, my rock. Thanks for all you do to make my dreams come true.
If you made it all the way to the end, you seriously deserve a metal (and thank you!).
Now, who’s coming to my end-of-summer dinner? Details forthcoming!
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