Monday, January 9, 2012

dinner party inspiration for 2012

I put up our new calendar in the kitchen last week. Nothing makes you feel more aware of the possibility and uncertainty of a new year as a blank calendar. Leafing through our 2011 calendar, I noticed all of the dinner dates and parties written on so many little white squares. What will this year bring? What friendships will be forged, which farflung friends will pay us a visit, how many precious meals will we share with our family? And what will we eat?

I don't know about you, but I need some fresh inspiration for this year. Here are some places I go to be inspired and, well, steal ideas.

You might know chef David Tanis from his gorgeous cookbooks A Platter of Figs and Heart of the Artichoke, but he also writes a lovely little column called City Kitchen for the New York Times. Tanis's approach to entertaining is equally glamorous and rustic, the best combination when it comes to throwing dinner parties. Much like the food at Chez Panisse, where he still cooks sometimes, he makes humble ingredients like beans and canned tuna and spaghetti seem luxurious and special. Not every article in City Kitchen is about entertaining, but reading his writing just puts me in the mood to invite some friends over and cook.

has this cool little column called The Dinner Party where they feature seasonally-inspired menus that are interesting but not daunting. Kinda reminds me of another site. Hmm...

Do you know about Kinfolk magazine? I think you will love it. Kinfolk celebrates gatherings of all types -- campfire dinners, picnics, holiday feasts. The photos are so gorgeous and intimate, I want to curl up and live in them. Kinfolk's manifesto states: "We recognize that there is something about a table shared by friends, not just a wedding or once-a-year holiday extravaganza, that anchors our relationships and energizes us." A good mantra for the coming year, no?

On a similar note, I totally recommend getting a subscription to Canal House Cooking, which is an awesome little quarterly food journal with fantastic recipes and photos that I also want to live in. I get a subscription at work and every time it comes in the mail I stop whatever I'm doing just to drool over it. If you don't want to shell out for the actual publication, you can also find inspiration in Canal House's blog, Canal House Cooks Lunch, which is exactly what it sounds like, a photo diary of what they eat in the Canal House kitchen every day. It will probably make you feel depressed about your own sorry lunch but for dinner party inspiration, it's fantastic.

I also have to mention the bookmarking site Pinterest, which is an unending source of good ideas for what to cook, how to serve it, how to set your table, and everything else about dinner parties (and practically anything else lifestyle-related). It's also really useful for keeping track of all of those random, brilliant ideas you find while trolling the web.

Where do you go for inspiration? Please share in the comments!


Anonymous said...

I come here, Dinner Party, for warmth, inspiration, jumping off points and good ideas!

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

Oooh, Canal House - I love that series! Haven't seen the new one yet, but I imagine I'll be picking it up soon.

Daniel said...

It's on, Saveur!


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