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A Fashionable Dinner Party

French couture dazzles on the table as well as the runway 

Written and produced by Krissa Rossbund
  • Peter Krumhardt

    Menu and recipes begin here

    Our compliments to the French! Inspiration from their famed fashion houses, whose chic designs and alluring fabrics shine on the Paris runways, sets the trends that inform how we all dress for dinner. And we’re not simply talking about gorgeous gowns. A tabletop can be just as couture-inspired. 

    This table, set for a fall gathering of friends, takes its cue from a new ikat-pattern dinner plate introduced by Hermès, a brand famous for fine silk scarves and buttery-soft leather handbags. The plates’ rich jewel tones and brushed-gold ribbed texture, boasting the feel of a finely woven textile, is a springboard for grandeur. 

    Photography: Peter Krumhardt

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Luxe Look

    The luxe mood continues on runners and placemats, shimmering in metallic weaves. They set a glam yet neutral base for the service plates, which alternate between indigo-blue and red. Like fashion ensembles made glamorous by faceted jewelry, this table gains a sophisticated twinkle from suites of sparkling crystal, some clear, some bold ruby red, and others sapphire blue. Gold—in everything from beaded napkin rings to crystal-dotted placecards to plated flatware—boosts the table’s opulence.

    Just as enticing is the dinner. A menu of pear old-fashioneds, poached lobster, and cinnamon bread with ricotta and roasted grapes rises to the occasion in beautiful fashion. 

    Luxurious accoutrements add a twinkle to Bernhardt’s “Auberge” table and chairs. “Hampton” pendants from Circa Lighting lend luster to the crystal “Milles Nuit” candlesticks, candelabras, and champagne flutes from Baccarat. Shimmery runners made from a Duralee fabric anchor the place settings. Framed vintage silk-suit linings from the “Reformed/Restructure” series by Debra Smith for Olson-Larsen Galleries hang above the “Blaze” buffet from Ethan Allen.

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Let There Be White

    Even with no soup on the menu, this tureen finds a spot on the table as an elegant centerpiece filled with white roses and mums. The curves of the piece show off the beautiful pattern and graceful handle.

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Served in Gold

    Modern tablescapes have jumped the flatware fence from sterling and stainless to gold. The harness design in “Attelage” from Hermès offers sporty luxury. Metallic thread highlights Kim Seybert’s “Crochet Edge” linen napkin.

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Crystal Meets Color

    “Stella” glasses from Crystal Saint-Louis sparkle, with the wineglass in a clear design contrasting the red hue of the water glass, its color providing a more daring, jewel-toned boost to the otherwise neutral gold table.   

  • Peter Krumhardt

    September Salad

    The well-rounded flavors of this Spinach Salad with Heirloom Beets and Haricot Vert—softly acidic, subtly earthy, slightly nutty—transition the palate from summer to fall. In France, they would say “de bon goût”—in good taste! 

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Ready, Set, Glow!

    The flicker of candlelight creates a dazzling and dramatic ambience at a nighttime dinner party. On this table, the gold color of “Vibration” bowls from Lalique provides an extra-soft glow when filled with tealight candles.

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Contrasting Coordinates

    A ribbed surface on the “Voyage en Ikat” plates from Hermès welcomes other textures—metallic circles on a placemat made of Kravet’s Modern Luxe “Rare Coin” fabric and gold beads on Kim Seybert’s “Tassel” napkin ring.

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Get the Look - Modern Elegance

    Consider these elegant, stylish options for setting your table.

    “Arc en Ciel” bread plate by Robert Haviland & C. Parlon. Haviland’s “Imari” salad plate. “Edgey” glass dinner plate from Annieglass. Kravet Couture’s “Modern Elegance” fabric for placemat. 

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Get the Look - Spark of Love

    Haviland “Dammouse” porcelain dinner and bread plates. “Laurel” glass salad plate by Cambridge from Replacements. Kravet Couture’s “Spark of Love” fabric in vanilla for placemat. 

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Menu and Shopping List

    For the bevy of French tabletop beauties senior style editor Krissa Rossbund gathered for this lovely setting, nothing less than a sumptuous dinner would do. Los Angeles chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary, Food of Grace created these recipes.


    Pear Old-Fashioned

    Spinach Salad with Heirloom Beets and Haricot Vert; Lemon Sherry Vinaigrette

    Poached Lobster with Saffron Risotto

    Ricotta and Slow-Roasted Grapes on Cinnamon Bread with Caramel Sauce


    Shopping List

    We’ve organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

    It’s advisable to call your grocery store or fish monger at least a week ahead of the party to ensure the lobster tails are available and arrive in the store at least one day prior.

    Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

    • All-purpose flour (need 1-1/2 cups)
    • Granulated sugar (need 3-3/4 cups total including enough for 8 cocktails)
    • Baking soda [need 1 teaspoon (check expiration date)]
    • Salt (need 1 teaspoon + pinch and more to taste)
    • Kosher salt (need 1-1/2 teaspoons)
    • Ground black pepper (to taste)
    • Ground cinnamon (2 to 3 teaspoons to taste, plus additional to garnish)
    • Bay leaves (need 1)
    • Vanilla (need 1 teaspoon)
    • Olive oil (need 3 tablespoons)
    • Unsalted butter [need 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (about 2 sticks)]
    • Salted butter (need 1/2 cup or one stick)
    • Cooking oil (need 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon)
    • White vinegar (need 1/3 cup)
    • Egg (need 1)

    Specialty grocery story

    • Saffron threads (need 1/2 teaspoon) [Depending on availability, you may need to visit a specialty spice shop or order saffron online].
    • 1 (24-ounce) bottle pear nectar (need 12 ounces for 8 cocktails)


    • 2 Anjou pears (to make 8 cocktails)
    • 6 lemons
    • 1 large bunch red seedless grapes (enough to cut 8 small bunches)
    • 1 large bunch green seedless grapes (enough to cut 8 small bunches)
    • 3 to 4 small to medium red and/or golden beets (about 1-1/3 pounds)
    • 6 ounces haricot vert
    • 1 red sweet pepper
    • 2 small shallots
    • 2 medium onions
    • 1 (5 to 6-ounce) package baby spinach
    • 2 bunches thyme
    • 1 bunch parsley
    • 1 large bunch mint


    • Sherry vinegar
    • Vegetarian chicken-flavored bouillon base
    • 1 (32-ounce) package Arborio rice (need 2 cups)

    Baking aisle

    • Herbes de Provence
    • 1 (2-ounce) package walnut or pecan halves
    • Cheesecloth

    Fish department

    • 8 (8-ounce) lobster tails (may need to order from specialty grocer)

    Frozen foods aisle

    • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen peas


    • 1 (1 gallon) container whole milk (need 6-1/2 cups total)
    • 1 (1 quart) container whipping cream (need 3-1/4 cups total)

    Cheese counter

    • Blue cheese (need 2 ounces)
    • Parmesan cheese (need 1/4 cup freshly grated)


    • 1 bottle bitters
    • 1 (750-ml) good quality bourbon
    • 1 (750-ml) bottle dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
  • Peter Krumhardt

    Pear Old-Fashioned

    This fall concoction of the classic cocktail goes down pretty smoothly.

    • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
    • 2 dashes bitters
    • 2 slices Anjou pear
    • 1 lemon twist*
    • 1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
    • 1-1/2 ounces good quality bourbon
    • Ice cubes
    • Sprig fresh thyme

    In an old-fashioned glass combine sugar, bitters, 1 pear slice, and lemon twist. Use a muddler or back of spoon to crush mixture until fruit is pulverized and sugar dissolves. Stir in pear nectar and bourbon. Add ice cubes and garnish with remaining pear slice and thyme sprig. Makes 1 cocktail.

    *Tip: Use a vegetable peeler to remove 3x1-inch strips of peel from the lemon.

    Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Spinach Salad with Heirloom Beets and Haricot Vert; Lemon Sherry Vinaigrette

    This salad has well-rounded flavors—a softly acidic, earthy preface to the rich lobster dish that follows.

    Poached Beets:

    • 3 to 4 small to medium red and/or golden beets (about 1-1/3 pounds)
    • 1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
    • 3 cups water

    Haricot Vert:

    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 6 ounces fresh haricot vert, trimmed, sliced in half on bias (1-1/2 cups)

    Lemon-Sherry Vinegar:

    • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
    • 1 lemon, juiced (3 tablespoons)
    • 1/2 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced (1 tablespoon)
    • Pinch salt

    Spinach Salad:

    • 1 recipe Lemon Sherry Vinegar
    • 1 (5 to 6-ounce) package baby spinach
    • 1 recipe Haricot Vert
    • 1 recipe Poached Beets
    • 1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves, toasted
    • 3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
    • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
    • Salt and ground black pepper

    For Poached Beets, preheat oven to 400°F. Cut top and bottom from beets. Place beets and herbes de Provence into loaf pan; cover with water. Cover pan with foil.

    Bake 45 minutes to 1-1/4 hours or until beets can be easily pierced with paring knife. Drain beets; let cool (do not rinse them). Remove skin with paring knife. Cut each beet into 6 wedges. Set aside.

    For Haricot Vert, cook beans in boiling salted water 2 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove beans from pot and place directly into ice bath. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain beans on paper towels until ready to use.

    For Lemon Sherry Vinegar, in large bowl in which you will make the salad*, combine vinegar, lemon juice, shallot and salt. Let vinegar mixture stand 5 to 10 minutes or until everything is ready.

    To make the Spinach Salad, add spinach to bowl and toss with Lemon Sherry Vinegar. Allow vinegar to slightly wilt spinach for a few minutes. Add green beans; toss with vinegar and spinach. Add beets and walnuts; toss again. Drizzle olive oil onto the salad; toss to coat (the combination of the olive oil and lemon sherry vinegar creates the vinaigrette). Finish by adding blue cheese, salt and pepper. Makes 8 servings.

    *Tip: If you are using a wooden bowl to serve your salad, combine vinegar mixture in small mixing bowl.

    ​Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Poached Lobster with Saffron Risotto

    Rich, buttery, and elegant—this recipe is the stuff on which hosts establish their reputations!

    • 12 cups water
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
    • 1 onion, peeled, halved
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 8 (8-ounce) lobster tails, rinsed
    • 1 recipe Saffron Risotto (recipe follows)
    • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
    • 3 lemons, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
    • 1 lemon, sliced

    Saffron Risotto:

    • 6 cups water
    • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
    • 1 tablespoon vegetarian chicken-flavored bouillon base
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 red sweet pepper, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 2 cups Arborio rice
    • 1/2 cup frozen peas
    • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    Add 12 cups water, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, wine, halved onion, and bay leaf to 8- to 10-quart pot. Slowly bring to boil, about 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer. Submerge lobsters in water; cook 8 minutes. Remove; cover to keep warm while preparing Saffron Risotto.

    Remove lobsters from shells by cutting lengthwise along sides to separate the soft belly shell (underside of tail) from the hard shell (top side). Remove soft shell. Carefully pull meat away from shell with fingers. Cut into medallions.

    To serve, place risotto on serving plates. Fan out each lobster over risotto. Pour melted butter and lemon juice over each serving. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices. Makes 8 servings.

    For Saffron Risotto, in 3-quart saucepan combine 6 cups water, saffron threads, and bouillon base. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Cover; keep simmering over low heat.

    In 4-quart pot heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium-low heat. Add sweet pepper, onion, and shallot to butter; cook and stir until tender. Stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Increase heat to medium; add rice. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes until toasted.

    Add saffron-water mixture to rice mixture one cup at a time, stirring after each addition, allowing water to absorb and evaporate completely before adding next addition. Continue adding liquid until rice is tender and the mixture is creamy (about 25 minutes). Stir in peas, cheese, and remaining butter. Season to taste with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

    Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Ricotta and Slow-Roasted Grapes on Cinnamon Bread with Caramel Sauce

    Chefs are rethinking desserts—and using a homemade bread as a base for ricotta, grapes, and caramel sauce is near genius. You’ll love the toasty fall flavor the roasted grapes add. Use a purchased ricotta and caramel sauce or make your own—this recipe can be prepared with both.

    • 16 (1/4-inch thick) pieces of warm Cinnamon Bread (recipe follows)
    • 1-1/2 cups purchased ricotta or Homemade Ricotta (recipe follows)
    • Purchased caramel sauce or Homemade Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
    • 8 small bunches each slow-roasted red and green seedless grapes (recipe follows)
    • 8 small bunches mint for garnish
    • 1 small bunch of thyme for garnish
    • Ground cinnamon, for garnish

    Cinnamon Bread:

    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup cooking oil
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon to taste

    For Cinnamon Bread, preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and 1/2-inch up sides of 8x4x2-inch loaf pan; set aside. In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In small bowl whisk together milk, egg, and cooking oil. Add all at once to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

    Stir melted butter into batter. Add teaspoons of cinnamon one at a time, gently folding each addition into the batter just until swirled (do not overmix). Spoon batter into prepared pan.

    Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 12 (1/2-inch thick) slices.*

    To make Homemade Ricotta, place dampened cheesecloth in sieve or strainer. Place strainer over bowl or pot to catch excess liquid. Combine 6 cups milk and 2 cups whipping cream in 4-quart pot. Heat milk and cream to point where steam coming off liquid is visible, but mixture is not boiling. Once steam begins, turn off heat and stir 1/3 cup white vinegar into liquid. Let sit 10 minutes.

    Use slotted spoon to ladle out curds that are floating on top; place them in cheesecloth. Remove all the white ricotta from pot. Discard milky water residue. Let ricotta drain in cheesecloth 30 minutes. For  thicker ricotta, drain mixture up to 1 hour. Transfer ricotta to covered container. Chill for up to 3 days.

    To slow-roast green and red grapes, preheat oven to 225°F. In medium bowl, toss 8 small bunches each red and green grapes with 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Arrange grapes in single layer on baking sheet. Bake 1-1/2 hours. Remove from oven; set aside.

    To make Homemade Caramel Sauce, in large skillet combine 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water. Cook and stir over medium-high to high heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture turns a pretty brown caramel color, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in 1-1/4 cups whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Return to heat. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is slightly thickened and bubbly. Transfer to covered container. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week. Makes 1-2/3 cups.

    To assemble dessert, arrange two pieces of warmed cinnamon bread on each plate. Top with warm homemade ricotta. Drizzle dark caramel sauce over bread and ricotta. Garnish with bunches of green and red grapes. Add mint leaf bunch and thyme leaves for garnish. Sprinkle with cinnamon (optional). Makes 8 servings.

    *Tip: For softer crust and easier slicing, wrap unsliced Cinnamon Bread loaf in foil and let stand overnight.

    Recipe from Chef Mary Payne Moran

  • Jonny Valiant