More and more, I’m thinking that what you need for a successful dinner party is a generous spirit. A host (ess) trembling with trepidation over whether you like the salmon mousse (or these days clarified salmon agar agar jelly with charcoal powder and botargo shavings) is an instant mood killer.
Lighting is more important than how many components your dessert has and whether it’s served on slate with tear drop shaped smears that look like miniature people didn’t heed the CAUTION WET FLOOR signs and slipped and slid to their peril (the slate manufacturer is now being sued).
Last night I went to dinner party hosted by Caroline and Tobias of the Thyme Supper Club. They could give classes on dinner parties. There’s faint music, filling in any lulls in conversation – not that there are many of those as the couple separate and move around the guests acting like a light wind helping the tinder catch.
We make our way through Prosecco, white wine then red and finally port to go with the cheese: Comté, Stichelton (on sale at Kollwitzplatz Saturday Farmers market Caroline tells me), Taleggio & Cheddar.
I promise to invite them round to our house in the new year. As I write this I think I will try to emulate their style then simultaneously I think of turning a Simon Hopkinson recipe I read for a prune and Armagnac custard into a tart – maybe with some sort of praline or a bruleed top, or a scoop of home-made ice cream and some jelly…that apple jelly I made at my last dinner party having been a huge success…
Bah! Who am I kidding, I’m a long way from dinner party harmony but going to a really good one always inspires me.
I’ve got just the place to do all my shopping for it: the Perfetto Supermarkets at Karstadt. This may just be as close as I will ever get to finding a Berlin equivalent to my beloved Waitrose. As with all Berlin supermarkets, they should call in some Brand Consultants to do away with cluttered inconsistent logos and definitely some interior decorators specializing in lighting because there are some alarmingly murky corners where I can’t make out the small print on the back of the packets (or maybe that’s my impeding age).
Point is, I can find everything I need under one roof. Even fresh herbs, obscure (for Berlin) ones like tarragon! Pre made pastry. There is a fish counter, a butcher’s counter, more variations on pork schmaltz than one could ever want to bring on a heart attack. Lots of imported products from the UK, France, Italy and Spain. The excessive premiums you would expect to find at KaDeWe, Frische Paradies or Galeries Lafayette are almost entirely absent.
Karstadt has a number of locations in Berlin, to find the one nearest you click on this link www.karstadt.de/Berlin/filialfinder. I really like the one on Hermannplatz in Kreuzberg.