A Taste of France in a Small Chicago Apartment
Don't you just love dinner parties? You know the kind where you actually sit at a table with other guests and enjoy a meal together? Me too!
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy more informal gatherings too. Everyone sitting elbow to elbow, balancing their plates on their laps, carefully eyeballing the collection of drinks on the coffee table to keep track of which one is theirs. Ha! You gotta love it!
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Ahh, but there's just something oh so special about a dinner party. Add in a little French cuisine, and it becomes totally unforgettable.
ecently my husband and I were invited to such a soirée by friend couple of ours. With one half of the couple being a native of France, of course the meal was nothing short of spectacular. It also afforded me an occasion to take a few photographs of this quaint Chicago apartment. Did you really think I'd skip out on that part?
In a post earlier this week, I mentioned ambiance as one of five ways to bring a boutique hotel feel into your home. Let me tell you, Charlène and Michael, our chef, sous-chef, and hosts for the night, nailed it! Here's the recap.
How to Host a Great Dinner Party 101
Add Elements of Ambiance
As we entered the apartment, we were greeted with:
- Music by Billy Holiday, Melody Gardot, Sinatra, and the like via an app
- A cool atmosphere complete with dimmed lights, and candles
- Scents of crisp, clean candles mixed with an alluring aroma of what was to be our dinner.
Upon taking our coats, Michael offered us drinks that were, ironically, consistent with the mood described above: "Would you like an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, a Portofino, or water?", he asks.
An Old Fashioned is ordered and served... "Oh man, thats it! I'm stayin' here forever!" is what one of the other guests blurted out.
Up the Style and Personality
The living room was a mixture of old and new finds: a vintage typewriter placed conspicuously on an IKEA coffee table, old maps of les arrondissements of Paris, and neighborhoods of New York, a framed 1040's stock photo of a very elegant, proper lady placed on a mid century modern sideboard, and leaned against the wall. The L-shaped sofa was a warm ivory color and floated over a traditional red rug. The red rug provided just the right pop of color in this monochromatic color scheme.
If you've ever visited an old Chicago apartment, you know that the architecture is just glorious. NO ONE builds apartments or houses like this anymore. I mean we're talking beefy crown molding, wide baseboards, and trim inlaid walls.
Serve Delicious (and Unique) Food
After some time, we're served something, that in my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd try - prunes wrapped in bacon. Some call this appetizer Devils on Horseback. I absolutely detest eating prunes, dates - and practically anything brown and wet that resembles a bug. BUT, in the spirit of politeness, I decided to try one and ...Oh, la, laa!
Can I just tell you that I ate so many of these sweet-and-savory-balls-of-yummy-deliciousness that I literally started hiding my toothpicks! On to dinner...
Set a Welcoming Table
The small dining room off the galley kitchen was outfitted with a round dining table, which was perfectly scaled for the room, and set for six people. (For help with choosing the perfect dining room table for your small space click here). The ambiance, relaxed vintage style and throwback personality continued in this part of the apartment as well. Our menu was simple yet hearty
Lightly Crusted French Bread with
Fromage de chèvres and Apricot Fig Jam
Pan Fried Fiji Apples
For a closer look at the apartment and highlights from our dinner, see the gallery below.
It was a wonderful and memorable evening. We laughed and shared stories. We were all so swept away by the seductive mood of the evening we didn't even notice that the couple was in the process of moving. Apparently, they found another place nearly 40 miles away on the opposite side of town. Aww man! Nevertheless, I am happy to have had this very French experience, with such a great couple, in this small gem in the heart of Rogers Park Chicago.
Tell me, how do you feel about dinner parties?