At our home in Umbria I tend to do a lot of entertaining in the summer, when the weather is warm enough to eat outside. A large marble table under a shady vine covered pergola makes having people over for lunch or dinner a no brainer. And picking most of the ingredients from our garden means that the menu planning is taken care of.
When the weather turns colder my entertainment tends to veer towards the city, with small groups of friends gathered around our table in Rome. But this past weekend I flipped things around and had a dinner party for 14 in our dining room in Umbria.
The occasion was that Sophie and are hosting our first Week in Umbria tour and the welcome dinner was at our house. Domenico designed an extension for our table so that we can now fit a larger crowd. I took this new table size as the perfect excuse to buy not only a few new tablecloths (necessary) but also a new set of dishes (not really necessary but….well, what can I say?)
Here is the menu: definitely warm and cozy and perfect for the first chilly night of the season. Also, as is my way, everything was made and ready to go, so that by the time my guests arrived, I was able to get to know them over a few glasses of prosecco without any last minute dashes to the kitchen.
Primo: At first I was going to make some sort of legume soup – beans or lentils – but then I realized that I hadn’t made farro is ages and it was about time. Also, it’s something you rarely see in the States, and I wanted to treat my guests (all from America) to something typically Umbrian. Here is my recipe which is a little different from the one I made, but just as delicious.
Secondo: The recipe for porchetta is one that I developed for my next book, The Italian Dinner Party Handbook. I’m really sorry, but you’re going to have to wait for that one until the book is published. In the meantime, you can deliciously and very easily substitute this recipe for pork roast.
Contorni: The carrots I served follow the exact same recipe as this one for potatoes and rosemary, but with carrots in place of potatoes. The radicchio salad is this one that I make in various versions all winter long, this time with apples, hazelnuts and dried figs.
Setting the Table
I really went all out for the center piece. I wish I could say I grew all these beautiful gourds and squashes, but I actually bought them at Eataly in Rome, which had a massive display that I couldn’t resist. Also? They are all edible, so we’ll be eating quite a bit in the coming weeks.
I had the table cloth made to order by Pardi, in Todi. They have beautiful linens, all made in Umbria.
The dishes are the pattern Siena and were made my FIMA in Deruta. I’ve been coveting this pattern for about 20 years, ever since I first saw it while writing my first book on ceramics.
Glassware: Just cheepo glasses by Bormioli that I buy in the supermarket. Really. They are so incredibly durable and inexpensive, while at the same time completely classic.
Flatware: Are you going to judge me if I tell you it’s the very cheapest pattern from Ikea?