Looking to throw an intimate dinner party? This soiree is your ultimate inspiration as it took place in an empty pool with a menu built by Assembly, a chef and wine pairing dinner party series. The decor included Persian rugs, a moody yet quirky palette, draped twinkle lights and a decadent and delicious menu featuring grilled asparagus with shaved bottarga.
Jessie, the owner of the empty pool and property it resides on (it sits in her backyard - she even got married in it!), dishes on how to style a moody dinner party and the perks of bringing friends from all walks of life together over a brilliantly cooked meal. Hospitality enthusiasts, this is your guide.
Were you celebrating anything special?
We hosted this dinner party as a kind of trade with a friend, Kate Cunningham, who is just starting a company in town called Assembly. Kate is the owner and sommelier. She brings on and works with chefs to create a unique menu with wine pairings tailored to different specific dinners in mind. They asked us if we would want to host their next event at our place and we happily agreed! Each dinner is at a completely different place with a completely different menu and wine pairing. It was really fun to have dear friends there and also people who are her friends that we didn't know.
What was the inspiration for this dinner party?
I do a lot of prop styling for food shoots in town so have a pretty hefty prop shed of tabletop items to pull from. I wanted dark and moody so pulled all my charcoal, black and gray linens and used a mix of different solids and patterns around the table. I also happen to have a huge black dinner table with black chairs so that helped! Black candles all around. I calligraphed the guests' names in black ink on deep gray place cards placed on black plates. For the finishing touch, I foraged a boat load of this beautiful flowering weed we call smooth pigweed from a field up the road. I arranged it as the runner paired with a dark linen runner underneath. The platters and small plates were a combination of mix-matched vintage pieces of mine with handmade pieces by my dear friend Jess Cheatham of Salt Ceramics. So dark and moody with a little splash of quirk was the visual vibe!
What did the food and drink menu look like? Was there a hit dish or drink from that night?
Everything was absolutely DELICIOUS! It was the best dinner I've ever eaten, EVER! It is SO hard to pick a standout as every bite of everything was truly outstanding. The asparagus and the turnips... I'd eat those every day if I could! I'm a sucker for Sancerre (and rosé) so that was my favorite of the wines! The menu is below:
- Beef fat grilled olives
- Smoked Kingfish with homemade crackers
- Macerated squash and whipped ricotta
- Paired with: Avinyo Petillant
- Cured cobia with lemon thyme and oak dashi
- Paired with: Claude Riffault Sancerre rose
- Grilled asparagus with shaved bottarga
- Paired with: Domaine De La Noblaie Chinon rose
- Onion-glazed lamb saddle over grilled garden peas
- Charred Hakory turnips with bangna cauda
- Paired with: Le Clarine Farm Jambalaia Rouge
- Blueberry and Brillat-Savarin sandwhich
- Paired with: Tintero Moscato D'asti
Any tips for fellow celebrators looking to host a fabulous dinner party of their own?
- I never bother with buying flowers... I always just pick from my yard or some strangers property on the side of the road :) So much more fun, and free!
- Always have a record on, just a light hum in the background helps everything.
- If you're relaxed and comfortable, your guests will be as well. If you don't get to everything little thing before folks start arriving, just let it go and let the party begin!
- I like to keep things casual, and the guests' glasses full (Kate was great at that!).
Party Organizer: Kate Cunningham of Assemlby | Photographer: Emily Dorio | Styling + Calligraphy: Hew & Co. | Canoe + Greenhouse Builder: Tristan Warner | Rug Rental: Spyridon Vintage | Ceramic Bowls + Black Candle Holders: Jess Cheatham | Chef: Tom Bayless with sous chef Jared Summers
MEET THE CORRESPONDENT