Lingering over dinner with good friends produces some interesting conversation.  As the candles shortened and sputtered, the wine glasses refilled,  three of us  talked into the night.  I was spending time in Moon River in Muskoka, Ont. .   My hostess  –  a world traveler and  professional photographer.  The other guest at the table a gorgeous brunette  bank manager,  and lover of Mennonite food and Mennonite quilts.  It was she who asked me  “if I was planning the perfect dinner menu what would  it be?”  I answered  “I would start with the dessert first.  The last thing you eat you never forget.  Dessert would be a classic crème brûlée.

And so from dessert  I went to the first course –  Foie Gras (a generous amount).  The main course a perfectly roasted free range  chicken with tiny potatoes sautéed in butter. Next a salad of the greenest little butter lettuce leaves and a simple vinaigrette dressing.  No appetizers  just a bowl of cashews with flutes of Veuve Clicquot.

The brunette bank manager  asked me who I would invite to this perfect dinner.   “Eight is the perfect amount of guests at the table”,  I replied.

My first choice Eleanor Roosevelt.

Sitting beside her would be D.H. Lawrence. I believe Eleanor would discuss “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” or “Women in Love” with David Herbert.

I would have M.F.K.  Fischer sitting next to me.  We would talk about food and discuss How To Cook a Wolf.

Across the table would be Georgia O’Keeffe and Pablo Picasso.

Before the evening ended Pablo would fall in love with Georgia AND the glamorous photographer.

Beautiful, brunette bank manager, carried away by the moment, would offer to bankroll a chic little restaurant in the tiny town of Bali.  Would I be interested?

What a glorious evening.   We would finish with crème brûlée, and  snifters of Courvoisier L’Or.  The sunrise would glisten and glitter on the Moon River. The call of the loons would fade away.   The perfect dinner party would regretfully come to an end.

Now you plan your perfect dinner party.  Tell me who you would invite and what you would serve your guests.


  1. Firstly, I am drooling just reading your perfect menu. I would love to be a fly on the wall at your dinner party. The conversations would be so interesting to listen to.
    Regards Florence x

    • Florence, that night the conversations became so intense that our darling hostess got out a “talking stick”. Whoever was holding it talked – the rest of us had to stop. We were talking over each other. It was a night to remember. Virginia

  2. Out here people do not invite each other to their houses to enjoy a meal. i really do not know why and if i invite them they either do not turn up or say they will get back with a date or whatever.. they love a cook out or beers on the verandah .. but not a dinner party. So the only dinner parties I have here are when people come to stay, usually from Nz (they know what cutlery is and do not look askance at my linen napkins)
    AND i almost always cook a roast chicken stuffed with lemons and shallots.
    We do start with nut crackers and home made fresh cheese and sometimes end with beautiful teacups of hot custard topped with tiny meringues. In the saucer is an even tinier tart apple sponge cake, as small as a chocolate. That is my favourite anyway. Last time my guests took baskets and picked their salads, and dug the potatoes and onions and beets after shopping in the freezer for lamb.
    When i go home to NZ in december it will be dinner party after dinner party with me cooking. Already my children are putting in their requests. Before i leave to board the plane my last communication with them is always a grocery list!.. oops this has gotton too long!

    • Celi I love your menu especially the dessert. You are a cook after my heart. I am not sure where this resistance to sitting down to dinner with friends comes from. Perhaps lack of exposure to this way of sharing food with friends and family. It doesn’t always have to be “gourmet” – Even a pot of baked beans and an apple pie shared with friends makes for a lovely evening. I promise you when you visit me you will be rooting through piles of Irish linen napkins . Oh – and I travel with my favorite chef knife (in my luggage of course). Like you when I go to Toronto it’s dinner parties with the grand children and guess who is doing the cooking! Virginia

      • That is excellent. Snap! I don’t think our husbands are cousins I think WE are! I travel with a little vege knife and my handwritten falling apart recipe book. My sons all have very good carving knives but I just love my little vege knife for everything else. It was not even expensive but I have had it for years, its wooden handle is quite worn, but well oiled and I keep it sharp! It has travelled all over the world. I keep laughing with delight at how alike we are.. c

  3. Well Virginia….after long and thoughtful consideration….I decided the menu would be easier to come up with then the guest list. When I grew up…we never had much…but we had enough. We had extended families under one roof…so meals had to stretch with rice or beans or veggies…so the comfort foods of my youth were always very simple..not gourmet. One of my favorite meals was rice with ground beef, spaghetti sauce and corn. I know it doesn’t sound like much…but we never had the option to be choosy with our food….if we were hungry…we ate what was put in front of us. My children now turn up their noses at that meal because they don’t understand doing without. Even before we became vegetarian I didn’t make that meal for my family….since I was the only one who would eat it… I haven’t had it in over 30 years. So I would choose comfort food from my youth. As to the guest list….I have to say I choose to live in a very small world…surrounded by those people with whom I interact with in daily life. It would never appeal to me to dine with a celebrity. I would like to sit at a table with myself 20 years younger and 20 years older…just to see where I’ve come from and where I’m going. I’d like to dine with my grown children to see the fine men they will become. I’d like to share a table with my Father…I’ve never met him….he died when I was a baby. I would like to share a meal with my Husband on our 75th wedding anniversary. Reveling in the stories of a life well lived and well shared. And last but not least I would truly enjoy the fellowship and a table shared with you my dear friend Virginia. And a toast with a lovely bottle of wine. What a wonderful memorable evening that would be : )

    • Ginny, I think that dinner would be the finest of all. I grew up at the tale end of the Great Depression. We were fortunate in that my father had a paying job. But many around us, including doctors and lawyers, were happy to receive vegetables and chickens in lieu of dollars. From an early age we were taught the value of a dollar. That lesson never left me and to this day I recycle, reuse, reinvent and Thrift Shop for almost everything. I don’t feel I’m hard done by – I think I am rather clever to have a beautiful home and gorgeous clothes for practically nothing. Viva for the thrifty shopper. Virginia

    • Ginny I so loved your reply to the perfect dinner party I read it aloud to The Good Husband. I must admit I was moved to tears. Would I had Oswald’s magic coat and could do a trip to your fair part of this world. Virginia

  4. Oh how very, very divine!!!! I fell into your words and became so very involved with the dinner and the plans that it felt as if this were really happening.
    I do believe that I would invite those that I miss most in my life: My Mother, her Mother, My Oma (she would have to make the main course her famous Chicken and hard German Dumplings) The of course, my Partner, the love of my life of 37 years would have to be there as there are times I felt my Mother and Grandmother loved him more than me! Then, of course, Eleanor Roosevelt would have to come over to my home after she has rested up from your marvelous dinner, Thomas Jefferson would bring his famous bread pudding for dessert and a couple of bottles of wine from his vineyards at Monticello (well perhaps 8 bottles, he knows me well!) Bette Davis would arrive……..late of course she always wants to make an entrance, much to the chagrin of Marlene Dietrich, who is always prompt due to her German nature. Cher would seat herself between them and Bette would be so annoyed by all the feather plumes as she tried to light her cigarette.

    We would begin the evening with some Veuve Cliquot that my dearest friend, Virginia, Princess of the Lotus Blossom, insisted on bringing along, her ever so charming husband following right behind with their fav champagne flutes in hand.

    We would end the day, and begin the new one out on the deck, watching the sun rise, each of us reflecting on the marvelous conversation of the evening past, as we munched on piles of fresh figs filled with gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto and sipped on beautiful foaming cappicunios. Virginia would entertain us with her marvelous stories and President Jefferson would wonder what his tenure in office would have been like with her as his Vice President and how much more he could have accomplished. Ahhhhhhh what a lovely evening, thanks for coming and bringing you wonderful husband, and of course the Veuve Ciquot!

  5. Virginia, I don’t know how I missed this wonderful post! Perhaps I deleted it when I meant to delete another! I just found it when you posted what some had written. I love your guest list! What an evening that would be!

    • The evening when all this came about was quite amazing. Three woman talking until the dawn came up. The talking stick was waved around a lot. Finally as the sun came up we walked down the water and slid into its silky coolness – still talking! Virginia

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