The Art of Hosting, The Arjé Way
Your Step by Step Guide
The Art of Hosting, The Arjé Way
Your Step by Step Guide
The Art of Hosting: Hosting is more than a simple act; it's an intentional embrace of connection, a deliberate choice to celebrate life's moments big and small. We find joy in the seemingly ordinary, transforming the mundane into a sensory feast. Hosting a gathering isn't about the perfection of details but rather the honesty and originality of the experience. It's about the people we invite, the old and new friends we welcome into our space, forging connections around a shared table. It's in the authenticity of hand-crafted dishes, the spontaneity of cooking in the moment, and the delight in creating something truly special from simple, in-season ingredients. We invite you to explore our guide to embracing the intentional, instinct-driven art of hosting.
We share the elemental building blocks, the very foundations that have set the tone for each of our gatherings.
1. Connect with the Season: Let the season guide your menu, embrace its hues in your decor, and capture its essence in hand-picked, artisanal delights. Go to your local farmers market to find fresh heirloom tomatoes, fragrant basil, juicy peaches, or whatever the season's bounty offers in your region.
2. Honesty in Cuisine: Simplicity doesn't mean boring. A loaf of freshly baked bread or a home-churned butter is simple but extraordinary when made with care and love.
3. Embrace the Imperfect: A slightly torn linen, a chipped plate, a simple dish - these aren't flaws but honest reflections of life. These unique pieces tell a story, each a part of our history and traditions.
4. Hand-in-Hand with Nature: Our relationship with nature is instinct-driven, and we honor it by choosing sustainably-sourced ingredients and embracing the natural beauty of our surroundings. Adorn your table with wildflowers, large bowls of in-season fruits and vegetables, sculptural branches or unique forms. Let the elements of nature become your co-host, work with their colors and forms as centerpieces. By connecting with nature, we cultivate a space that invites authenticity, warmth, and the joy of shared experience.
5. Consider the Origin: When choosing your ingredients, know where things come from, and celebrate that journey. Choose organic wines from local vineyards, introduce a cheese made by a local family-owned farm, hand-made olive oil from your favorite olive grove in Puglia, Italy or canned sardines from that special bodega in Madrid, Spain.
6. Share the Story: Perhaps it's a hand-made ceramic bowl from your travels to Umbria, Italy, a set of glassware from your grandma's table or a family recipe handed down through generations. Share these stories with your guests. It adds a richness that transcends the physical.
7. Encourage Participation: Cultivate connection through creation. Let your guests be a part of the creation. Whether it's a shared cooking experience, setting the table together, or asking guests to concoct their own cocktails, the joy of creation binds us all. Embrace the collaboration as a beautiful dance of friendships, a chance to laugh together and deepen connections.
Setting the SCENE
When you gather people at home, you're not merely hosting; you're inviting them into your world, into a carefully curated experience that's more than just a meal. It's a chance to inspire, to share, to create something extraordinary. When all the details align—from the flavors on the plate to the ambiance of the space—something special happens. Even in the most impromptu of gatherings, the effortlessness is intentional, the hospitality genuine. It's these cues that transform an ordinary night into a memory and a moment to treasure.
1. Color Theme: Choose a color that speaks to you. Maybe it's inspired by an ingredient, a vessel, a flower, or a plate. Start with that hue and build around it layer by layer allowing it to guide the entire scene. Our starting point is always warmth— embracing colors that radiate as if kissed by the sun. We weave them through our tablescape, menu, drinks, setting and even what we wear, creating a harmonious and complete atmosphere.
2. Setting The Table: Think of the plates as part of the meal. We always aim for intentionality, choosing sizes and colors that echo the ingredients and set the mood. In the summer, it's all about warm tones, rich glazes, and hues that radiate the season's glow. We love the idea that the plates can be as beautiful as the food, creating a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Mix and match glassware for water, cocktails, and wine. We're drawn to handblown glassware, especially the unique shapes that seem to spark conversation with each sip.
3. Lighting: When it comes to setting the scene, lighting plays an essential role in guiding the mood. Reduce the glare of overheads by dimming them. Utilize warm bulbs in table or floor lamps to create pockets of warmth, subtly highlighting areas for conversation and connection. Integrate candles where you can - the more the better. The key is to balance different light sources so they enhance rather than overpower the setting, crafting an atmosphere that's both welcoming and true to the moment.
4. Choose candles with character: Nothing creates an ambiance quite like candles.Go for beeswax candles, in different heights each uniquely hand-dipped, adding a warm, golden glow. Play with staggered heights of holders alongside tea lights in textured holders. You can never have too many candles.
5. Foliage: Think wild and in-season. Visit the local flower market or farmers market and select sculptural, beautiful stems that defy the ordinary. Let a vessel inspire the shape and form of your foliages. The weirder the better.
6. The Playlist: Sound is an overlooked treasure in hosting. It's not merely background noise but a delicate complement to the flavors, sights, and textures of the gathering. We often explore different moods with our playlists, letting the music ebb and flow with the event's natural rhythm.Our go-to summer playlist, Verano Para Sempre, is on repeat this month. Consider having music in each room to allow a gentle transition from one space to another—kitchen to dining room to living room. Explore our carefully curated playlists for an impromtu evening - organized by mood or create your own. Whatever your choice, let the music be another guest at your table, enhancing the conversation and connection.
If you have time, we suggest to personalize songs for your guests - add in a few memorable songs that resonate with the group. That favorite classic that you all danced to last summer, or the jazz standard you know a friend adores. Connecting through music is like sharing a secret smile; it deepens bonds and adds a sprinkle of magic to the evening.
On The MENU
Our Classics for Impromptu Gatherings. These dishes are more than recipes; they're our time-honored favorites. Simple, satisfying, and un-intimidating - these are our perfect end-of-summer meals for impromptu gatherings.
Upon Arrival, Aperol Spritz:
Summers spent in Italy have left us with more than just memories; they've imbued us with a love for Authentic Italian aperitif like Aperol Spritz. Aperol is the essence of summer, an orange glow reflecting the warmth of long days. As our guests arrive, we love to serve this classic Italian aperitif in hand-blown amber glassware.
For Appetizers, Pan Con Tomate:
When its mid-August in New York City, the tomatoes we've been waiting for all year - have arrived. This dish is a tribute to simplicity and the magic of the season and requires no experience, only a love for honest ingredients. We pair vibrant tomatoes with homemade sourdough from the farmers' market. Toasted bread, rubbed with garlic (get your guests to join in), drizzled with olive oil, and adorned with freshly grated tomato—served on handmade glazed plates.
Pan Con Tomate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Rustic bread, sliced (6-8 slices)
2-3 large soft, mature tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Sardines (optional), for garnish
Prepare the Bread: Slice the rustic bread into thick pieces, capturing the hearty essence of this cherished dish.
Toast the Bread: Place the bread slices on the stove in a dry skillet, toasting them on both sides until golden and crisp.
Rub the Garlic: Gently rub a garlic clove against the toasted edges of the bread, infusing it with a subtle and aromatic hint of flavor.
Embrace the Tomato: Take the soft, mature tomatoes and cut them in half. Hold one half and rub it gently yet firmly against the bread, pulling out all the juice and drench the toast.
Drizzle with Olive Oil: With an assured hand, finish with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Add the Sardines (Optional): If you desire a note of the sea, add sardines, positioning them with artful care as an additional layer of taste.
Season: Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, perfecting the flavor profile.
Serve Immediately: Serve immediately on unique, hand-crafted plates that complement the vivid red of the tomatoes and the earthy tones of the bread.
Pair Thoughtfully: Elevate the experience by pairing with a chilled glass of your favorite beverage, be it a crisp white wine or sparkling water with a twist of lemon.
For Mains, Spaghetti allo Scoglio:
Spaghetti allo Scoglio is more than just a dish in our home; it's a tradition. If you follow us on instagram you know it's our go-to recipe, and friends so often ask for it when they come over, one would assume its all we make! You may think it looks complex, but it's not as tough as it seems. Quality seafood is the key—get that right, and you're halfway there.
We love cooking this dish as our guests mingle over appetizers and serving on a beautiful centerpiece platter. It's not just about the food; it's about sharing the process, the experience, and yes, sometimes even inspiring our friends to try it at home. A favorite from our kitchen to yours.
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 can purée
8 small shrimps, peeled, no heads
2 small squid, cut
1 pound mussels
1/2 pound clams
Generous bunch of parsley and cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
Boil water for the Spaghetti.
SAUCE - In a deep pan, sauté chopped onion and garlic with olive oil.
Add halved cherry tomatoes and stir until softened.
Add seafood: squid and shrimp first, followed by clams and mussels. Cook on high heat.
Pour in white wine, cover, and cook for a few minutes. Shake the pan with the cover on.
After 3-4 minutes, add the tomato purée. Reduce to low heat, stir, cover, and simmer for 7 minutes.
SPAGHETTI - Meanwhile, boil the Spaghetti for 10 minutes until al dente.
From the sauce, remove 50% of the shells of clams and mussels to create space.
Season with a pinch of salt and peperoncino.
Drain the Spaghetti, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid, and add both to the sauce. Stir well until the spaghetti combines nicely with the sauce. Finish cooking.
Garnish with chopped parsley and cilantro.
Serve hot in a beautiful large serving bowl for the center of the table. Serve into individual bowls, allowing guests to partake in the communal spirit of the dish.
For Dessert, Apricot Crostata
An impromptu dinner deserves a simple yet fresh ending, and that's where our in-season Crostata comes in. This Apricot Crostata, warming with its hues of reds and oranges, is our joyful nod to the fading embrace of summer and the last thread to tie the meal together.
Sometimes, we've got frozen dough at the ready, and other times we whip it up from scratch. And yes, store-bought dough can be our ally when we're in a pinch. The star here is any in-season fruit - you can use peaches, plums, apricots - anything bursting with flavor.
Apricot Crostata Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Ingredients For the filling:
Make the Crust by Hand: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold, diced butter, and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until the dough just comes together.
Form and Chill the Dough: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until it forms a cohesive ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Prepare the Filling: In a large bowl, combine the apricots, brown sugar, and nutmeg or cinnamon if using. Mix well.
Preheat the Oven: Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
Roll the Dough: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 15-inch (38-cm) round. Carefully transfer to a large baking sheet.
Serve: Cut into wedges and serve warm.
As the evening unfolds, the drinks flow, and the laughter rises, keep these lasting notes close:
Drinks: Let water be a refreshing companion with lemon slices or blood orange and fresh mint gracing the table throughout the evening.
Wine: This summer, we've embraced Orange Wine - vibrant and intriguing. A rare, organic choice that is not just a drink, but a conversation starter. Crafted with passion and patience, its complexity is a nod to ancient winemaking techniques, connecting us to the hands and hearts that shaped it.
Liquor: And as the night wears on, perhaps a fine amaro or a fragrant limoncello to linger on the palate. Serve chilled in our smaller handblown glassware, a delicate touch to close the meal.
Non-Alcoholic Options: Always have options available, such as a refreshing mint-infused lemonade or a sparkling elderflower mocktail, to ensure everyone feels included in the celebration of taste.
Conclusion: A Gathering is about more than the food on the table; it's the warmth in the room, the laughter that lingers, the memories that endure long after the sun has set.If these recipes have stirred your culinary curiosity, you might find joy in exploring our FIFTH SENSE BOOK STACK. It's a collection we've curated, filled with the cookbooks that inspire us all year round.Includes: Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone; Home Farm Cooking by Catherine & John Pawson; Gjelina; and Silver Spoon Classic - They're a perfect gift for the gracious hostess or a cherished treat for yourself. May they bring warmth and life to your gatherings, just as they have to ours.