How To Throw The Perfect Dinner Party
With Danielle Bell and Pablo Osorio of de Porres Dinner Series
“At what age will we start to have dinner parties?” a friend asked us not too long ago, and the question gave us pause. We wanted to defend our lack of dinner party-giving prowess by pointing out that we do occasionally have people stop by for a disorganized dinner, or by saying that New York is so full of good restaurants that it’s no wonder people tend to go out to eat with friends rather than having them over. And after all, there’s the matter of never having enough space in our shoebox-sized apartments. But no sooner had we uttered our defense than we realized that these were all pretty lame excuses. We don’t know exactly why we don’t quite feel capable of hosting a large group of people and serving a multi-course meal with appropriate wine pairings on our own. Sure,it’s kind of intimidating, but we like a challenge. And besides, we’re also a little weary of resorting to going out to restaurants all the time and spending a ton of money for an experience that isn’t always as intimate as we want and usually involves some rendition of Brussels sprouts because Brussels sprouts are literally on every single menu currently on offer in Brooklyn. And we like Brussels sprouts, but come on!
So in order to psych ourselves up for eventually hosting our own dinner party, we stopped by the Bed-Stuy home of Danielle Bell and Pablo Osorio for one of the meals they serve as part of the de Porres Dinner Series. Drawing on their Peruvian (Osorio) and American Southern (Bell) roots, the couple create menus full of innovative yet unfussy foods like cassoulet Peruano (Osorio’s take on the French classic, featuring duck and Peruvian pork sausage) and fried whole sardines with lime, sesame oil, ginger and Thai chilis, as well as desserts like black walnut buttercream cake and Southern-style baked rice pudding with bourbon-soaked raisins. Basically, it’s all the foods that you wish were on the menu of your local restaurant, or all the food that you wish you could make with ease in your own home, but it isn’t and you can’t, so you have to go to de Porres.
But beyond the exceptional food (no, really, we still have dreams of the chupe de camarones), what makes an evening at de Porres feel like the ideal dinner party is that there’s always a healthy mix of people around the table—some come alone, some come in pairs, others in groups—all who talk freely with one another between courses. Add to that Bell’s facility at making everyone feel comfortable and tended to without feeling waited on, and we felt a bit like taking notes for our own, as-yet-unplanned dinner parties.
As we walked to the A train—our stomachs full, our minds a bit clouded from healthy pours of the meal’s accompanying wine, which was curated by local store Passage de la Fleur—we came to a revelation: we shouldn’t feel bad about not being able to get it together enough to host dinner parties of our own. That’s what de Porres was for—Bell and Osorio afforded us all the attendant joys of such an event, but we were able to end the night without doing any dishes. Sounds like the perfect dinner party to us.