Dinner at Chez Dumm: The Review and Starting a Dinner Club

Throwing dinner parties is a little like riding a bike.  Once you know how to do it, you can do it forever.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t be a little rusty when you start up again after a long hiatus from the tradition.  There will always be a few wobbles.

Wednesday night was a perfect example.  We invited over a few friends, we made some salads, some pasta, some sweets.  The food was, overall, good-ish, the company awesome.  The house was clean.

But we made an awkward hot mess of finding seats and plates and napkins for everyone around our little table.

We committed one of the high sins of entertaining when you’ve invited guests who don’t know each other, by leaving all of them to entertain themselves while we sweated and fretted in the kitchen.

We cooked too much pasta and picked a recipe that, while delicious, isn’t exactly a crowd-favorite.

In a rare cookie mess-up I served chocolate chip cookies that had baked far past the gooey, underdone middle stage that is the hallmark of a truly, outrageously good cookie.  It was really, really disappointing.

We found out that our table is just a little too close to our China cabinet when I dove in for dessert plates and inspired all sorts of manners of awkward chair shifting.

I tried a new corn and peach salad recipe that ended up tanking in a big bowl of too much cilantro.

But in spite of it all, our guests stayed and ate and put up with us.  They ate a delicious Caesar-like salad and some seriously good lemon ice cream pie.  They lingered over wine and laughter and new friendships were forged.

And of course that is why you have dinner parties at all.  To bring people together, to share new foods and experiences.  To make a gift of a meal for the people you care about.

We’ll do it again soon and hopefully many more times here in Chengdu.  Which reminds me.  I want to start a dinner party club and I need help.

Nothing fancy or overly formal.  Just a group of people that gets together once a month for dinner at a member of the group’s home.  I think I’d like the emphasis to be on trying new things, new dishes, new cuisines among people who will like and respect you no matter what kind of abomination you accidentally put on the table.  I’d like there to be plenty of wine and lingering long after the dessert plates have been cleared.

Does anyone have experience in this sort of thing?  What the right size group is? How to be inclusive of everyone in the social circle without diluting the fun or the emphasis on the food?

I need ideas and suggestions.  If you have them, I’d love to hear them.

And in return I’ll share the recipe for one helluva Lemon Ice Cream Pie next time 🙂


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