Monday, 1 November 2010

Who's coming for dinner? Planning my ideal dinner party

Hello, lovelies, all 133 of you (and a warm welcome to this crazy planet, newbies)! I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend. Last week, sweet Laura at Happy Homemaker UK tagged me here to join in an entertaining little game she and her husband play of listing the famous people they'd enjoy having around for dinner. Now, Mr PB and I haven’t had a dinner party for years, well, not since we landed on Planet Baby. But a girl can dream, can’t she? One day we will eventually host another such affair. So, I’ve put on my thinking cap – here goes!

The setting

Our dining table niftily extends out to seat eight people. So we could invite six guests.

I’d set the table like this, using my favourite blue and white scheme, my soft white linen serviettes (if I were really organised, I would monogram them with the guests’ first initials in my fanciest French cross-stitch. In navy, of course) and my treasured German Blaudruck tablecloth (that’s going to get a post of its own one day). I’d alternate the seating for male and female to optimise the interaction between my guests. I’d polish up our silver cutlery and place our Villeroy & Boch dinner setting just so.

I’d set our Waterford crystal glasses for water and both white and red wine glasses. I’d place some pretty pastel peonies in simple vases, a bit like this.

The invitees

A dash of sparkle:

I think Mr PB is looking forward to sitting next to you, Miss Kate!
I’ve been enamoured of Kate ever since I first saw her years ago in the disturbing Heavenly Creatures. I found her portrayal of Iris Murdoch in Iris most affecting. Then I found her acting in The Reader both compelling and disturbing. She inhabits her characters so completely that I forget that she’s only acting – she’s just so authentic and believable. I am attracted to her effervescent personality, her grace and ‘Britishness’. Oh, and don't forget the small matter of her being a Best Actress Oscar Award winner! I am also impressed by the manner in which she has dealt with her fame and the media’s fascination with her fluctuating weight. Glamorous and intelligent, I think she’d definitely add some sparkle to our night.

A cup of beauty and charm:

Juliette Binoche
Picking just one photo of her was hard
Juliette is my favourite actress. Ever. I first discovered her in the moody Milan Kundera classic, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and was captivated by her. She was absolutely enchanting in Three Colours: Blue, one of my all-time favourite films. We had the framed poster for the film hanging in our apartment in Sydney for years. I was extremely moved by her performance in The English Patient. She was delightful in Chocolat and I was mesmerised by her in Hidden. She embodies my ideal of an attractive, intelligent French woman with that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. I’d have the chance to practise my French. Classy and chic, she also is absolutely stunning with a disarming smile. Ooh, she’d be a charming guest.

A pinch of intrigue:

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark 
On official business
Mr PB and I went to school with Mary and she and I then studied law together. I’d love to ask her how she’s found her extraordinary transformation from Hobart girl to the future queen of the second oldest continual monarchy in the world. I’ve been fascinated to watch from afar as she’s gradually grown in her confidence and now mixes easily with world leaders and celebrities.

We’ve also had our first two children at similar ages. This has caused amusement for my parents over the past few years as several times when Mr PB and I have flown down from Sydney to Hobart for a family visit with the young pixies, Mary was doing the same with her youngsters, albeit from Denmark. We haven’t yet bumped into her with the children at the local playground although it may well happen some day as her favourite is also one of ours! I think our guests would be intrigued to see her in her hometown. And Mr PB could reminisce with her about their days together at high school!

A stir of interesting stories:

Barack Obama
I think I would sit next to him
Now this would be a coup! Imagine sitting down to dinner with the inspiration of a generation to enjoy a meal and find out what it’s like to be the most powerful person on the planet! Hmm, I think we have to suspend all reality to allow this fantasy to happen. Where do I start? Well, putting aside that fact, I find his personal background absolutely fascinating. I’d love to chat to him about his upbringing first in Hawaii and then Jakarta, Indonesia. He lived there during the late 1960s, a time of immense political unrest and trouble there. We could converse in (my albeit rusty) Bahasa Indonesia.

His insights on growing up with multiracial heritage, studying at Harvard Law School and working as a community organiser and lawyer in Chicago would make for interesting dinner table discussion. Oh, and of course, we’d chat about the small matter of his being the President of the United States! As a keen student of history, I’d also love to pick his brain on how he intends to help solve the ‘Israeli-Palestinian’ question. But the main attraction for me (apart from his charm and charisma) would be to listen to his oratory skills. As a language lover, I think Mr PB could well have to catch me as I swooned, listening to him speak!

A sprinkle of humour and wit:

Adam Spencer
And Adam will be on my other side
Adam is an extraordinarily talented young Australian (he’s just a year older than me) who is a radio presenter with Sydney’s ABC 702 station and a comedian. A brilliant mind, Adam has a first class honours degree in pure mathematics and was one of the world's top-ranked debaters when at university. His memory is elephantine and he’s both astute and empathetic. He is incredibly witty, with a seemingly endless source of devastating one-liners and humorous rejoinders.

Waking up to hear him on breakfast radio was one of our favourite things about our time in Sydney. We missed him terribly when we moved to Hobart but now we have our T-hub, we can hear him on internet radio every day which brings us immense pleasure. He’s also the passionately proud father of two little girls who were born around the times of the older pixies so we’d have a lot to chat about. He could swap notes with Mary as well.

A glass of traveller’s tales and an aesthete’s eye:

Kevin McCloud   
I'd seat Kevin next to Juliette
Now hold up your hands if you’re fans of Channel 4’s television series, Grand Designs? Okay, I can see a few of you are. I like your style! It’s an enthralling series on architecture and house design. Hmm, does that sound a bit arcane? A bit dull, even? Well, not in the hands of the amiable Kevin McCloud who is a British designer, writer and television presenter. This avuncular and intelligent fellow meets with the clients who are building the house, visits the site with them and discusses the plans. He visits the site regularly throughout the building process, right through to completion. He then returns some time later, after the owners have moved in and made any necessary changes, to conduct a tour and give his opinion on the building’s design, what worked and what didn't. His perceptive and intelligent perspectives are a treat to hear. I’ve learnt so much from him.
Mr PB and I were also entranced by his Grand Tour of Europe series. He followed the path trodden around Europe by so many young, mainly upper-class men for centuries before him to appreciate classical antiquity, artworks and hear particular music. He shows with beautiful clarity how classical influences returned with the travellers to Britain who then incorporated such features into buildings there. A brilliant show – I highly recommend it. I think Kevin would have a bountiful supply of fascinating titbits to share and could also converse in French with Juliette.

The menu

I'd choose fresh Tasmanian food, simply prepared, to showcase the state's bounty and to treat Mary.

Hors d’oeuvres :

Dainty morsels of fresh Tasmanian Tassal Atlantic salmon with some sour cream and dill on tasty German-style rye bread

Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne and Kir Royales


Freshly shucked Bruny Island Pacific oysters au naturale with a squeeze of lemon

Straight out of the shell is best

Tasmanian Bay of Fires pinot gris

Main course:

Roast Tasmanian pasture-fed spring lamb with roasted root vegetables glazed with honey. Here is the recipe for the vegetables (and excuse my food spallers - it's well-used!).


Pavlova with lashings of whipped cream and fresh raspberries (see my recipe here)
Here's one I prepared earlier!
De Bortoli Noble One dessert wine

I'd like to tag the following lovely bloggers to play along if they'd like:

• Sweet Jeanne at Collage of Life;

• Witty Millie at The Laurel Hedge;

• Amusing Kerry at A Tranquil Townhouse;

• Delightful Maureen at Daydream Living; and

• Bubbly Simone at Honey & Fizz.

I can’t wait to see what you have planned for us, ladies! And do feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments as well, if you wish. What do you think about my choices? Would you like me to add another place at the table and squeeze you in? Do share!

Rewinding at Weekend Rewind at And then there were four on 29 July 2011.


  1. LOL My husband and I talk about this as well. I would be hanging around outside to meet Kevin McCloud. Charmaine

  2. Goodness gracious Jane...the ideal dinner party! You amaze have got the list and food prepared to perfection here. There is no way I could top this :) I have been spending the last few days thinking of my ideal holiday...alone. Something you will appreciate more when the little ones are all grown up!

    I am going to have to put some thought into the dinner theme. Can I add what I would wear into the equation? I think I am going to need to purchase a journal to start taking notes just for this post :))

    Thanks for thinking of me xx


  3. Hi Jane,

    Try again to comment...This sounds like such fun, trouble is for me I'd be totally overwhelmed by such company. I recall meeting Prince Phillip and mumbling an incoherent answer to his question- I was completely star struck! Lovely to be back again enjoying your blog. Emma.

  4. I think I agree with Emma - I would be star-struck and definitely not in best form in such esteemed company.

    I'd choose old, distant friends, Tasmanian sparkling, Heathcote shiraz and beautiful food to be cooked by someone else. And something chocolatey for dessert.

  5. Jane, I am a great believer in karma. And this is clearly what I'm on the receiving end of because I have spent years asking workshop participants who they'd invite to dinner without ever having to answer the question myself! Of course I'll play along, but like Jeanne it might take me a while to organise my thoughts...eek! And I completely agree with your choice of that thinking woman's crumpet Kevin McCloud. Thank you Jane :)

  6. Wow, I love your post. I'm not familiar with the last two - I'll have to check them out. You did this challenge great justice! And love reading about Tasmanian 'typical' food. I'd love to pull up a chair - I'd even be willing to be a server ;)

  7. Oh Jane!
    First I smiled, then I laughed, and then it hit me, I can't cook! Ok, panic under control, it's not for real, but still... I'll have to agree with Jeanne, (indeed, what to wear when Barack is there?)so I will try my best ok? Who will come? The choices alone.... You funny girl!
    Me, setting a table and cooking real food.... (although I'm still smiling here in mountain land....)
    Bye sweet Jane!

  8. well you've sucked me in! Sounds like a lovely night out, you know just for somehting a little bit different to what I'm used to :)

  9. Can I come too? I'd love to hang out with Kevin McCloud and chat about architecture and stuff. We adored Grand Design when we were living in the UK and was totally inspired by that show when we built our own home a few years ago! Perhaps I could wait on the table (since you only have 8 seats).

  10. Rather interesting line up, Jane... not sure it would be my ideal, but I cannot fault your planning and panache and I would definitely attend if asked!!! x

  11. Sounds like a great dinner, I am afraid I would have drunk all that champagne before anyone arrived!

  12. How FUN!! Love your menu and your guests would certainly make for interesting dinner conversation! Oh to be a fly on your wall during your dinner party:) Loved this post Jane ~ xx

  13. Do you think you could squeeze in one more? Preferably on the chair next to Kevin. I love his show and could listen to his voice all night. I am rather partial to Champagne but I don't each much. As for Mary, she is divine, so lovely and real yet with that aura about her. What a fun dinner!
    Thanks for prompting me about my side bar. I have had a fiddle. Now the sidebar is a bit wide. I'll have another go.

  14. Oooh this looks like fun Jane! Thanks for tagging me :) I love to waitress for your party and eavesdrop on all the interesting conversations! xx

  15. Can I come too?? Maybe I'd be a fly on the wall?? I like the idea of your little bit of Ireland there, with your Waterford Crystal. Looks like you would be a great hostess.

    All things nice...

  16. Wow Jane, I'm impressed, your eclectic guest list is awesome. Love your choice of our friend Jeff Gossett's PH Riesling. Maybe I should turn the tables & do a post in who I WOULDN'T invite to dinner & WHY!
    Millie ^_^

  17. Oh, my! A girl turns her back for 24 hours and look what she finds! Thanks so much for your comments - it looks like you've had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

    Oh, Jeanne, yes, do. I completely forgot about choosing an outfit, the style of invitation (you could even mock one up) or the dress code. I'm looking forward to yours ☺.

    Oh, Emma and Sarah, about the whole 'star-struck' thing - we are suspending reality for this evening, of course. That includes all the bodyguards, security detail etc.

    It's great to see some more admirers of Mr McCloud. Did you see him on telly last night in India? Sigh.

    Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. Ah yes, I would be joining you with the champagne, just to calm the nerves a little. I think I'd also ask you for some more decorating tips if you were free around that time. How about it?

    And Deb and ATN, yes, my parents can lend us more chairs. You'll just have to wrap your legs around the table corners, if you don't mind.

    Thanks for offering to wait on us, Laura, Ange and Simone - I'll take you up on that offer. Another detail I hadn't thought about.

    Now that sounds like a great twist, Millie. Can't wait!

    So over to you now, ladies. We're all ears! J x

  18. What a perfect hostess!

    Would there be coffee and after-dinner games ala 1950s?
    I can just imagine the hilarity of your diners engaged in a round or two of pictionary, charades or somesuch trivia.

    x Felicity

  19. Oh, Felicity, I obviously need your help planning this party. As a coffeephobe, I neglected to mention that little necessity. Your observation is spot on. Imagine combining those brilliant minds in a game of charades! Oh, I wish this wasn't just pretend! J x

  20. What a great post! I've always loved Kate Winslet as an actress too and the rest of your dinner guests would make an interesting array of company. I had no idea Princess Mary studied law - I've always admired her, knowing her humble Aussie beginnings and seeing her transform into a gracious, stylish princess. Your menu sounds delicious and the way you've described your table setting sounds so carefully thought out.

  21. Why, thanks, Amanda! Seeing how talented you are at presentation, I'd be coming to you for more decorating tips. Yes, humble beginnings in Hobart. It is surreal to remember her then and see her now. It's like a completely different person. She's made a huge effort to fit into her adopted country which can't have been easy when you're under the media spotlight like that. She's going to have her hands full once the twins arrive, nannies or not! J x

  22. What a well thought out event! It would be a wonderful night! Love a bit of Kate and you know how I feel about my twin Mary! Thanks for Rewinding x

  23. Love it! Can I come?

    Visiting from the Rewind.

  24. Oh, yes indeed. As long as you both bring Bron with you as well so I can have a hoot with all three sisters! J x


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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