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I can whip up a pretty decent dinner when I need to, but I am decidedly more about dinner theatre than cuisine.
I love to set a table for a party, and I pile on pattern and color with abandon. I have always collected things with that in mind as I travel: Teak lacquered water cups sourced in Mynamar mix with chartreuse Saint Louis crystal hocks. Napkins discovered in a market in Udaipur work with stag head-etched William Yeoward goblets that I tracked down and had re-issued in London. My favorite Venetian glasses from Carlo Morretti my husband and I bought on a trip years ago can be used for drinking or used as small flower vases. Pattern figures strongly, so I add iconic linens from Sister Parish, Walter G and Artiga (from a chic little French market in Stanley Market in Hong Kong. They come in fun colors and are virtually indestructible.
This gorgeous shop on Sacramento Street in San Francisco is highly curated and presented beautifully by Sam Hamilton. I have my eye on her new green splatter wear (picture) for our house in Idaho.
I never miss my quarterly emails from Elephant Ceramics, where one has to quickly snap up the limited edition wares that Michele Michael makes in her studio in Maine. They are pieces of art.
DINNER PARTY STRATEGIES
I like to mix people who don’t know each other well, so I use a table favor to get the conversation started. Some are more successful than others, like when I used goldfish bowls with live fish as centerpieces. All good until you spot a floater in the middle of the main course.
The last dinner party featured a Miracle Fortune Telling Fish — the little paper fish that tells your personality when you hold it in your hand. Another recent party featured guest’s personality description based on their birthday on each plate. I find it helps break the ice and bridges differences in a light-hearted way.