I count down the days to October all year long. From the contrast of the changing leaves against the crisp blue sky to the scent of burning wood in the brisk night air, I savor every moment, knowing that any day could be the last before winter sets in.
My favorite way to celebrate the season is to gather friends together for a grand feast. We plan an elaborate menu with course after course of seasonal foods grown on local farms (and sometimes in our own backyard!).
When Alex and I first moved into our home, we had a vision: We tore out the sunroom’s dated wood paneling and wall-to-wall carpet to build the perfect dining room from the ground up. We redesigned our kitchen and rebuilt it from scratch. We bought the biggest table we could find to accommodate as many present and future friends and family members as possible. We even painted a chalkboard wall in the kitchen for hand-drawn menus.
And in October of 2015, we hosted our first annual fall party—a day-long event beginning with pumpkin carving and a bonfire, and ending with a seven-course dinner for nearly thirty people that ended at 3 AM. I ran the kitchen like a restaurant, barking orders like Gordon Ramsay as I stuffed wild rice into acorn squash and apple crisp into baked apples. Our glasses overflowed with cider, ginger beer, and vodka (that year’s signature drink) as we talked and laughed late into the night. It’s one of my favorite memories.
This past Saturday, I was hard at work all day curating the perfect menu & playlist (indie folk meets acoustic bluegrass); deseeding pomegranates (hint: do it underwater); and gathering branches for the table. I was overjoyed to have my father and sister in town for the occasion; they kept me company and lent a helping hand alongside a few other lovely humans who came early.
The many dishes comprising this year’s dinner somehow came together seamlessly—no Gordon Ramsay necessary. I let Alex handle the salmon, chicken, and potatoes (he kept the exact ingredients a mystery, so I wrote “with seasonal spices” on the menu). I prepared butternut squash with cranberry wild rice; sweet potatoes with spiced chickpeas; carrots with a cilantro-tahini sauce; apple pie; garlic bread; and sparkling apple & elderflower sangria.
We served every dish family-style, setting each platter down on the table amidst branches, gourds, and the occasional kitten on the table. The food disappeared so quickly that crumbs were often the only remaining evidence.
I love hosting dinner parties because it gives us the priceless opportunity to seat new friends next to old, coworkers next to family members, to enjoy the simple pleasures of good food (and wine) and conversation. I feel so fortunate to have collected such high-quality relationships since I moved to Boston eight years ago, and to be able to gather everyone together in my very own home.
Curating a thoughtful experience for the people whose company we enjoy is one of my favorite things in the entire world. I love choosing the menu and illustrating it in chalk; making the perfect playlist to create the ideal atmosphere without drowning out meaningful conversation; arranging the tablescape; tasting each dish as it cooks to figure out which missing ingredient will take the flavor to the next level; dashing around the table making sure everyone has what they need; and finally, just sitting back and watching everyone enjoy each other’s company.
Sparkling Apple Sangria with Elderflower & Ginger
The Music: http://spoti.fi/2eL8cAJ
Are you following me on Facebook, Instagram, Bloglovin’ and Google+? Subscribe to each channel to make sure you don’t miss a single post, whether it’s on hosting a fall dinner party or planning a wedding!