52 Dinners - Week 9: An Evening with Old Friends & Indian Food

52 Dinners Place Setting Inspiration

We’ve just returned home from a quick trip down to Philly, where we visited the Philadelphia Flower Show and the FTD World Cup floral design competition.
We also put on a dinner party for 16 friends. Our pals Neal and Andrew generously opened up their beautiful home and allowed me to take over their kitchen for a day and a half.
I prepared an Indian feast, and it was a sensational evening spent eating my favorite food among some of my favorite people.
It had been a couple years since a lot of these folks had seen one another, and I’m so glad that this dinner party project is what facilitated the reunion. Though these are all good friends of ours, they’re still a discerning audience.
Among the room full of creative entrepreneurs/makers/doers/shakers we had restauranteurs, a chef, cookbook author, food journalist, wine maker, James Beard award winning food photographer, world-class coffee roaster, and food PR consultant.

So I put my all into every dish: grinding my own garam masala blend, making fresh paneer, and crimping my samosa seams into tender purses of spiced vegetable perfection. And it paid off.

I’ve always been my own worst critic, sometimes to my detriment. Growing up, my mother would encourage me to “aim for perfection, but settle for greatness”. There are lots of versions of this quote floating around, and it becomes more and more resonant as I get older.
 Sure there were a couple little things that weren’t perfect on Friday evening, but it didn’t matter at all. There was no self doubt, only joy. I am feeling more inspired and confident than ever. So much so that I’m having trouble focusing my attention on anything other than future dinners. All I want to do is cook tasty food and make people happy. So that’s what I’ll do.

Big thanks to the dream team of Neal Santos and Michael Persico for documenting the evening. Thanks so much for the great photos, guys. Let’s do this again next year!

I’ve learned to enjoy doing dishes. On her show, Amy Sedaris maintains a Party Log, where she writes down her evening reflections and makes note of the highlights and lowlights of her parties. 
Though I don’t take the time to write these thoughts in a book (I guess I just let them ruminate for a bit then put them here), I do really like to take cleanup time as an opportunity to reflect back on the evening and let that after-party glow linger for as long as possible. It can be almost meditative for me. I know that some folks are inclined to leave the dinner mess and tend to it in the morning, but I don’t think I could do that if I tried.

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