One year ago, in the midst of contemplating the demise of Open House and taking our first steps to tentatively exploring what life ‘after’ might look like, I wrote a piece. It was an ode to life around the table, to the power of good food and wine and the element of magic that has the potential to reveal itself whenever people gather around a meal together. I called it ‘The Enchanted Table’.
It was never published, left to gather dust when new directions flourished around the community and our family spent the year in survival mode preparing for and welcoming Harvey.
The swirl of magic never quite dimmed. It lay dormant for a while, whispering in hazy dreams, showing itself in the rising steam of fragrant stews and the twisting aroma of sweet baking. One evening, it exploded into force – a longing so visceral awakened by the pages of a French cookbook.
We threw a French feast and travelled into another dimension for a few magical hours – transporting ourselves through food, conversation, wine and laughter. It sparked something deep within me and I’m not letting go.
I can see the threads now, weaving themselves before me. From the enchanting feasts concocted by Chef Daniela when I was barely 19, tangled in a relationship with an older man and inducted into a world of lavish, open-hearted entertaining. Potent affogatos on a candlelit, ivy-twisted balcony, a fondue soiree – an endless floor ‘table’ with scattered cushions stretching the length. My first taste of oysters, wine, extravagant desserts. Mysterious invitations with instructions to arrive at 5:18pm. I was carried away and completely bewitched.
In our early years of marriage, the leisurely explorations of fresh food markets, selecting intriguing produce to whisk into a menu for dinner parties. Testing new recipes, strange cuisines, smoothing out the pages of recipe books and using my hands to create.
I’ve designed progressive dinners, thrown dinner parties, made woodfired pizza more times than I can count. And I have loved (almost) every minute.
When I was introduced to the concept of Neighbor’s Table, tears formed in my eyes. People gathering together around a table, sharing food, life, love and laughter – it hooked me. Dave was similarly moved and we set about creating a space for these occasions. An endless table, inviting outdoor space, woodfired pizza oven.
Now, we are ready to begin.
But I’m adding my own flavour in, weaving a pattern that inspires me. The Enchanted Table is about discovering new cuisines together. Evoking a parallel culture and bringing feasting customs to our homes. Each feast will be designed (music, menu, decorations), the price of entry being the provision of a dish or two to share from a particular cuisine. There will be deep conversation, delicious food and the promise of connection, belonging, friendship.
It will be messy, beautiful, chaotic, a learning experience. There will be incredible taste sensations and epic dish failures. Through it all, it is my hope that we will unearth an empathy in ourselves for the ‘other’, an understanding of each different culture that we visit and a depth of connection, life and love.
So, are you in? I can’t wait to see you there.
I’m creating a group on Facebook from which to manage the logistical details of the feasts and setting out more of the practical details of how each one will work. If you would like an invitation to this group, let me know down below!