Introducing TDPC – Francesca


Hello everyone!

My name is Francesca and I think I can be considered a very late bloomer in the kitchen.

Until a few years ago, my interests and passions lied in anything but food: career, fashion, books, home decorating, flower arranging, traveling around the world and anything else that would satisfy my sense of beauty and aesthetics.

And then one day not very long ago – as it so often happens in life – due to a “force majeure” event, I found myself in front of the stove, in that room of the house that I had utterly ignored up until then!

What to do then? Oh well! I had no idea where to start from, but I knew I had two weapons on my side and I was very determined to make full use of them.

Firstly, I was born and raised in Italy and my country’s culinary tradition is totally unique. Secondly, I come from a very traditional family where every woman and most men had been cooking for all their lives. I suddenly realized my taste buds had been abundantly trained since infancy. The only thing I was lacking was practice (because everyone knows that practice makes perfect). Next thing I know… I was on the phone with my mom talking recipes and culinary skills. Then came culinary education and classes.

I cook every day for my family but I like to experiment and play with food only when inspiration comes. I can get inspiration from anything: a smell, a flavor, a color, a shape, a flower, even a book or a fashion magazine. I love that thrilling chill I feel every time I start picturing a new dish (which usually happens in my bed!) I select and combine the ingredients in my mind way before I do it with my hands and I previsualize the final result, the colors, the taste, even the table setting for my dish and the flowers that go well with it. In the end, I know exactly what I want to make and how it should look like.

My food is very simple and unpretentious. I don’t like overcomplicated recipes or those that call for never-heard of ingredients. 😉

When it comes to food, I’m a purist and a big supporter of traditional dishes executed the way our grandparents used to make them. No need to reinvent the wheel there. For any dish, I use very few ingredients, but I make sure that they are top-notch quality. I’m a huge believer in “less seasoning is more”: I use just enough seasoning to enhance the natural flavors and then let the ingredients speak for themselves.

I don’t think that all food or every ingredient is delicious. I’m very peculiar in terms of what I like and eat (aren’t we all?) but that doesn’t prevent me from cooking dishes I don’t love for my family and friends. I put a lot of effort into making sure that my food looks good as much as it tastes good because it is absolutely true that we eat with our eyes before we do it with our mouth.

When Margot invited me to join her and her fellowship of talented bloggers for this special dinner party project, I was honored and surprised at the same time. I’m not what you would call a social butterfly: I like to keep to myself and meet and talk to people on my terms. So at first I was very undecided whether to participate in this project, but then I thought that every party has its introvert – it wouldn’t be a proper party without one, don’t you think? – and of course that role belonged to me.

These are my hopes and auspices for The Dinner Party Collective project: I hope that you will join our virtual communal table and enjoy what you see on it so much that you will not want to leave. I hope that you will like our recipes, ideas, parings and suggestions so much that you will want to take them to your own table and share them with your family and friends. I hope that hanging out here with us will inspire you so much that, in planning your next dinner party, you will feel the same thrilling chill that I feel when I get the inspiration for a new recipe.

Talk to you very soon!

Francesca (Flora’s Table)

Introducing TDPC – Anatoli

Anatoli | Talk-a-Vino | The Dinner Party Collective
Anatoli from Talk-a-Vino

Please allow me to introduce myself – my name is Anatoli, and you can call me the wine guy if you wish.

I would love to tell you that wine was for me the love from first sight, but that wouldn’t be true. I also can’t name that life-changing bottle of wine which made me an oenophile instantly and forever. My love story with wine was unfolding at a slow pace, including the appropriate share of the White Zinfandel, Peach Canei, cute creature labels and $7 Bordeaux from the discount food store. It also included a simple thought that anyone spending more than $5 on a bottle of wine simply has no idea what to do with their money.

But together with all that, an oenophile, a wine aficionado and a wine snob were developing slowly and surely. The appreciation for the land, the appreciation for the hard work, and most importantly, the appreciation for the passion and obsession of the people making the magic happen in the bottle, was developing alongside of that slow process. And it slowly grew into an obsession and fascination of my own – for the mystery of the wine, for the thrill of anticipation of what might be hiding behind that cork, for the transformational abilities of seemingly simple white and red liquid in the glass. The stronger my obsession was becoming, the stronger was the desire to share it with the world – and this is how my own blog, Talk-a-Vino, was born about 5 years ago. From there on, the obsession grew even stronger, and I’m glad to share it with the world – and you.

Now, let me tell you why I am here talking to you from the pages of The Dinner Party Collective. Wine is a social phenomenon. For the full enjoyment, it requires two elements – food and company. Yes, you can perfectly have a bottle of wine all for yourself – but when you have someone next to you to discuss the experience and share the emotional state, this greatly enhances the pleasure of drinking that same wine. Same is true for the food – when wine and food work together, they elevate each other and create the best experience ever.

Think about the communal table, with food, wine and happy people – isn’t it where the happiness and the best experiences of life are created? I hope we will be able to help you to create those happy people moments more often. Let’s make a deal – we will give you the ideas for the food and wine, and you bring together the company. Deal? Let’s go then!

Anatoli (Talk-a-Vino)

The Dinner Party Collective Begins!

To all, a warm welcome to The Dinner Party Collective! We are a group of dedicated and passionate Food and Wine Bloggers from right around the world who are coming together to collaborate and create what will be an ever-growing series of seasonal menus. In time, there will be a delicious array of formal, semi-formal and casual menus for you to choose from.

The first of our menus are being worked upon as we speak and will be published in early June. There will be a winter menu for those in the southern hemisphere and a summer menu for those up in the north. From then on, with each new season, a fresh duo of menus will be released for each of the corresponding hemispheres.

Included will be an Appetiser, Main and Dessert (each dish beautifully prepared and photographed by one of our individual Food Bloggers) and to accompany will be specialised wine suggestions from one of our fabulous wine bloggers (who are both qualified sommeliers). Each individual dish will be chosen carefully, to not only excite the palate, but also to complement beautifully the other two dishes selected for the menu. They will be dishes that can, for the most part, be prepared in advance, allowing you, as the host(ess) of your dinner party, to spend as much time as possible enjoying the company of your guests, rather than slaving away in the kitchen. 

So in the meantime, over the coming weeks while we await the release of our first two menus, I’d like to gradually introduce our wonderful team to you, so that you may gain a little insight as to who we all are and what makes us all so passionate about food.

Margot | Gather and Graze | The Dinner Party Collective
Margot from Gather and Graze

While I’m here… I may as well go first. I’m Margot, creator of the Food Blog Gather and Graze.

My thought process behind this idea harks back to my childhood… being in awe of my Mum preparing to host dinner parties with their group of friends. Those evenings were almost as exciting as Christmas! The beauty of watching them all gathering around a table to share food, to laugh, to drink wine, to enjoy each other’s company! I’ve never really been fond of large parties – they tend to freak me out for some reason, but give me an evening sitting about with a few friends and good food and wine and somehow it rejuvenates the soul. Continue reading “The Dinner Party Collective Begins!”