I couldn't be more excited about today's Q&A subject: Matt Armendariz, food photographer and blogger extraordinare. I've been a fan of Matt's site, Matt Bites, for several years now. His stories, both food and non-food related are always a fun and interesting read, but the photographs are simply amazing. His images are full of life, color, and guaranteed to make you salivate. When Martha Stewart thinks your work is fabulous, you know you're doing something right! In addition to blogging, shooting food, and teaching photography classes, Matt will be releasing his first cookbook this spring. Here, he shares some of his favorite dinner party ideas, both old and new. Thanks, Matt!
1. Name, occupation, and city
Matt Armendariz, food photographer and blogger, Long Beach, California.
2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
The last dinner party was on New Year’s Eve. We throw dinner parties about once a month, I never need a reason to celebrate! Our guests on New Year’s Eve included our neighbors and local friends. No one wanted to be driving around on the 31st but I’m a big believer in always having food when company is near. It turned into a wonderful late-night dinner party.
3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
I couldn’t really pick just one. Well, if I had to pick one it’d definitely be by seasons. In summer nothing beats platters of peaches, heirloom tomatoes, burratta and prosciutto, we keep dinner parties really simple during warm months. Maybe even a fig pizza from the grill. In winter I think the best menu I’ve made for company involved wonderful winter salad greens, simply dressed, and a giant cast iron pot of osso bucco that went on top of polenta.
4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
I wouldn’t dream of not having wine for a dinner party! However, our new year’s even dinner party was a traditional swiss fondue with an amazing selection of beer. I honestly can’t remember the last time I even served cocktails at a dinner party.
5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
It all depends on the mood and the energy but I can’t go wrong with Brazilian jazz. I’m a huge fan of Stan Getz, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and so many other musicians. I’ll usually throw in some Luis Bonfa and Cal Tjader into my dinner party soundtrack.
6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner. What do you make?
First, I’ll start with cheese. I love to have some nibbles while everyone arrives and visits, it’s usually a great cheese or two with condiments and nuts. If it’s super last minute I’ll do pasta and a salad, something very simple.
7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
Both my partner Adam and I cook. I have the added advantage in being married to a food stylist!
8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch?
Pasta is never made from scratch here, I’m fine with store-bought. Everything else is made from scratch, it’s not difficult. I gasp when I see people using store bought salad dressing when it’s so easy to make!
9. What do you like to serve for dessert?
Things that are easy, that’s for sure! If it’s summer then it’s a homemade ice cream with cajeta, if it’s winter or fall then it’s usually a banana Tarte Tatin. It’s unreal.
10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be?
Frank Deford, Diane Von Furstenberg, my friend Brooke Burton, Dottie West, Jennie Livingston and Harvey Milk. I can only imagine the conversation.
[Photo: Matt Amendiraz]