Living in the New York City area it was always a challenge, for me, to have people over for dinner, drinks or just for some good ole’ repartee. My apartments were too small. I’m pretty sure this is a challenge for many people in Gotham who cannot afford the square footage to host a soiree—on the cheap or swank. Most of us, who love to entertain and not fortunate to reside in a loft or classic six, have to gather with friends at a bar or restaurant. This is an expensive Band-aid and the atmosphere is far from intimate. So my desire to entertain—take care of all of the interesting people who I considered my friends, with food and drink, creating a warm environment, fostering stimulating and carefree conversation, was null for nearly six years in Manhattan.
A few months ago, I was looking for a new home in Cleveland. After months of searching, I fell in love with a pre-war wreck—holes in the floors and bits and pieces of that ceiling were literally scattered like mold on the Swiss cheese floor. But it felt so, so right for us—me and my teens. And I knew once it was renovated, I was going to entertain the way I always wanted to in the metropolis of New York City. I envisioned gatherings, similar to a laid back literary salon mixed with a bit of that old Round Table at the Algonquin, yet modern–centered at my dining room table—with the real feast being the tête-à-tête.
After my new pad had its makeover, I created a guest list and ordered the invitations for my first gathering: A dinner party. To my disappointment many of my new acquaintances in the-mistake-by-the-lake weren’t interested in attending such an evening in my home of dinner, drinks and conversation. Many didn’t want to commit until they knew who the other “confirmed” guests were and a few said, “This isn’t for me, Heather.” Man, was I missing my old New York crowd. But, I moved forward with the orchestration: finding an unknown and and talented chef, pairing wines with her culinary creations, creating the perfect playlist of 1920’s French Jazz, and inquiring with others—who’d enjoy eating and conversing in my home.
As with any party, there were constant changes to the guest list—due to cancellations and people who didn’t bother sending a reply to the invitation. After dealing with that frustration, I had a total of eight at my table. All of whom provided that perfect balance of humor, sincerity, sharing, and intelligentsia, while indulging—food and fermented juice, of course! Divine.
Highlights of the evening’s banter: A “foodie” had saved a little over twenty-grand, a few years ago and dined his way through Asia. Now that’s a passion we all appreciated! Another invitee introduced all of us to the world of tall ships with a contagious enthusiasm that had us all sailing. And my most memorable moment from the evening of April 17th involved an unexpected reading of my daughter’s nationally awarded collection of poetry, If Love Was Not A Question.
In the end, I had a successful dinner party with guests who truly enjoyed the evening, who were genuinely grateful and asked upon their departure: When’s the next one, Heather?
Soon, very soon…And hopefully this chronicle of April 17, 2013 will encourage you to host an old-fashioned dinner party or cocktail get-together with your own modern twist. It’s sure to be fun. That’s for sure. Cheers!