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Great Gatherings: Showhouse Dinner with International Flair
At the DC Design House, a dining room is seasoned with sights and flavors from regions around the globe
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Grab your passport. Designer Marika Meyer is hosting a first-class journey. In the dining room she created at the DC Design House in Washington, D.C., she scheduled an itinerary with aesthetic stops at exotic, faraway places, from China and Morocco to India and Thailand.
“I like a formal dining room with symmetry, but not one that is stuffy,” Marika explains. “The accessories that hint to travel make the room less serious and more accessible to families.”
On either side of the room’s entrance, pairs of Moorish-style mirrors hang above console tables faux-painted to look like shiny malachite.
The damask-style “San Marco” wallcovering by Quadrille help set the global tone.
Photography: Gordon Beall and Peter Krumhardt
Produced by Eileen A. Deymier
Interior designer: Marika Meyer, Marika Meyer Interiors, 202/285-4134, meyerinteriors.com.
Wallpaper (“San Marco”/Greige on Off White #2330-40WP): Quadrille, quadrillefabrics.com.
Sisal area rug; wool ikat rug: CG Coe & Sons, coecarpetandrug.com.
Blue-and-white jars: John Rosselli Antiques, johnrosselliantiques.com.
Chandelier (22K gold leaf); Chinese painted pagodas; green console tables; dining chairs; mirrors; sconces (“Sheaf of Wheat”/Gold gilt); elephant garden stools (vintage); draperies and Roman shades (custom): Marika Meyer Interiors, meyerinteriors.com.
Chair fabric, front and seat (“Chelsea Square”/Blue Heaven #765-15): Perennials, perennialsfabrics.com.
Chair fabric, back (“Imperial Trellis II”/Ivory, Navy #174411): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
The dynamic pattern of the “Imperial Trellis II” chair fabric from Schumacher sets the blue-and-white theme for the table.
Family-friendly entertaining demands compromise and innovation. Marika’s textural table includes pieces that not only look playful but can also occupy fidgety children. Her best secret? Pairing gold paint with a bucket of toy animals. Once covered with the regal finish, the animals resemble weighty brass objects you might find at an Indian bazaar.
Designer Marika Meyer’s table combines objects of varying scale—both new and old. Miniature gold-painted animals march around shapely antique ceramic pagodas, supporting the table’s international flair.
The place settings are a lesson in texture, mixing sculptural and smooth plates and bamboo-like flatware that is rendered in stainless steel.
The excursion continues. Place settings feature worldly blue-and-white ikat plates atop Italian majolica.
Blue-and-white also brings Chinese decoration into play, both on ceramic pagodas that mingle around a hydrangea centerpiece and on ginger jars resting on the window sill.
In classic colors, ginger jars add volume and pattern in the window sill, and also contrast the more contemporary versions of blue and white on the salad plates and backs of the dining chairs.
Brass Bar Cart
The brass “Beckett Bar Cart” provides an extra surface for plates, cups, and artbooks for kids; from Williams-Sonoma Home
The design elements from Spain, Morocco, Thailand, and India found in Marika Myer’s dining room for the DC Design House in Washington inspired chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary, Food of Grace to create a menu highlighting spices from the medieval spice routes and the Silk Road trade route. Lemony Tom Yum Soup precedes a hearty shrimp curry entree. Churros and chocolate finish it off deliciously.
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.
Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes (need about 1 teaspoon)
- Ground cinnamon (need 3 teaspoons)
- Bay leaves (need 1)
- Unsalted butter (need 8 tablespoons [1 stick])
- 2 eggs
- Granulated sugar (need 3-1/2 tablespoons)
- Brown sugar (need 2 tablespoons)•All-purpose flour (need 1-1/4 cups)
- Vegetable oil (enough for 1-1/2 inches in large saucepan)
- Canola oil (need 2 teaspoons)
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 1 bunch lemon grass
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1-2 lemons (for juice and garnish for 1 to 4 cocktails)
- 1-2 limes (for juice)
- 1-2 medium cucumbers (for 1 to 4 cocktails)
- 1/2 pound cremini and/or shiitake mushrooms
- 1 medium onion
- 1 shallot
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 medium piece fresh ginger
- 1 medium Thai chile pepper
- 1 (32-ounce) bottle tonic water
- 1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
- 1 (2-pound) package short-grain rice (need 1-1/2 cups uncooked)
- 1 (6-ounce) bottle Thai fish sauce
- Ground coriander (need 1 tablespoon)
- Ground turmeric (need 3/4 teaspoon)
- Curry powder (need 3/4 teaspoon)
- Ground cardamom (need 3/4 teaspoon)
- 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces
- 8 ounces chicken breast tenderloins
- 1-1/2 pounds fresh or frozen shrimp in shells
- 1 pint container half-and-half or light cream
- 1 (6-ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
- 1 (10-ounce) container whole milk
- 1 (750-milliliter) bottle vodka
- 1 (375-milliliter) bottle orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
Lemon, Cucumber, Basil Cocktail
A vodka cocktail flavored with lemon, basil, and cucumber kicks off this festive dinner.
A “light,” or rum-based, orange liqueur such as Cointreau is a good choice for this refreshing cocktail. Muddling herbs, such as basil or rosemary, into a cocktail gives it a savory undertone and balance.
- 1-1/2 ounces vodka (3 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon peeled, seeded, and finely chopped cucumber
- 2 large fresh basil leaves
- 1-1/2 ounces tonic water (3 tablespoons)
- 1 ounce orange liqueur (2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Lemon slice, cucumber spear, and/or fresh basil leaf
In cocktail shaker combine vodka and finely chopped cucumber. Let stand 5 minutes.
Add the 2 basil leaves. With muddler or back of spoon, crush basil against sides of shaker.
Add tonic water and orange liqueur. Add ice cubes. Cover; shake until very cold. Strain liquid into ice-filled 6- to 8-ounce glass. Add lemon juice. Garnish with lemon slice, cucumber spear and/or fresh basil leaf. Makes 1 cocktail.
Lemon Grass Tom Yum Soup
Lemon grass provides a zesty lemon flavor to many Thai dishes, including Tom Yum Soup, a healthy mainstay of that cuisine. When purchasing, look for pale yellow to white firm stalks with a dark green upper portion.
- 1 stalk fresh lemon grass
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 8 ounces chicken breast tenderloins, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 8 ounces cremini and/or shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
Remove tough outer leaves from lemon grass and cut off root and upper green portion; discard. Halve remaining white stalk lengthwise.
In large saucepan combine lemon grass and chicken broth. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Add chicken; simmer 10 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink. Add mushrooms, green onion, lime juice, fish sauce, ginger, and crushed red pepper. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Remove lemon grass. Season soup to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Top with cilantro before serving. Makes 6 servings.
“Curry” and “curry powder” are mostly Western interpretations of blends of spices and recipes from India and Southeast Asia. Those blends are as complex as its ancient regional histories; in modern times, curry almost always contains chiles, cumin, clove, nutmeg, mace, coriander, and turmeric. When “curry” is used in a recipe name, it usually means a curry-flavored sauce served over rice and accompanied by vegetables and a protein.
- 1-1/2 pounds fresh or frozen large shrimp in shells
- 3-3/4 cups water
- 1-1/2 cups uncooked short-grain rice
- 1 medium fresh Thai chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 shallot, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels; set aside.
In large saucepan bring 3 cups water to boiling. Add rice and Thai chile pepper. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until rice is tender.
Meanwhile, in large skillet heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallot, and ginger; cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper; cook 1 minute or until aromatic.
Whisk in remaining 3/4 cup water, half and half, and bay leaf. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Add shrimp; cook and stir about 4 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.
Remove from heat; remove bay leaf. Stir in Greek yogurt and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve curry mixture over rice. Top with green onions. Makes 6 servings.
Cinnamon Churros with Chocolate Sauce
Cinnamon is the curled, dried inner bark of a genus of trees native to southwest Asia. Cinnamon is one of the spices with the most mysterious and exotic histories. It was traded in ancient Egypt and Greece, where its origins were a closely guarded secret and where it could only be had for a fortune. Later, the Portuguese and the Dutch East India Company made the spice accessible to Europe.
Churros are light, fried doughnut-like Spanish pastries coated in a cinnamon-sugar blend. They get their distinctive shape from being piped from a pastry bag fitted with a star-shaped tip. Churros, freshly made and piping hot from street vendors, are a favorite snack in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- Pinch salt
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For Cinnamon Churros, in large bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.
In medium saucepan combine water and salt. Bring to boil.
Immediately add flour and 1/2 teaspoon sugar all at once; stir vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture comes away from sides of saucepan. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes. With wooden spoon, stir in egg and egg yolk, beating until smooth.
In heavy large saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat 1-1/2 inches of oil to 350°F.
Transfer dough to piping bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe about 4-inch long pieces of dough into hot oil. Use small knife or thin spatula to separate dough from tip of piping bag. Fry 4 to 6 churros at a time 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly brown. Drain on paper towels. Add warm churros to the cinnamon-sugar mixture; toss to coat. Serve with Chocolate Sauce.
For Chocolate Sauce, in double boiler or heatproof bowl set over pan of simmering water, combine chocolate pieces, butter, and canola oil. Cook and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
Whisk in milk until smooth. Whisk in 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon until combined. Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. (Chocolate Sauce may be made ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Makes 6 servings.