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We are pleased to present a new “Dining With” editorial feature just in time for the beginning of spring with hostess extraordinaire, Sofia Barattieri-Weinstein.
As an authority on all things fashion, décor and lifestyle, Sofia's party tips and delightful tulip tablescape are sure to inspire you to create your very own version of the perfect dinner party. Recreate this look at home just in time for spring with a selection of British grown tulips, rich double tulips and Bailey Bud vases from FLOWERBX.

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Dress up or dress down?

It is truly a matter of personality and there is no right or wrong here. I love a hostess that looks grand and does it with style. I personally don’t like to be the most dressed up woman in the room when I host a dinner. I like to think that I am elegant yet understated, rather than grand and intimidating. I like to make guests feel at home.

Cocktail hour means?

For cocktail hours, guests should be served food and drinks in a manner that makes them feel at ease to conduct conversations. This is the time when the hostess needs to do a bit of magic by introducing guests and initiating interesting and light-hearted conversations to get the mood going. Delicious margaritas are always a good help!

On my playlist?

Music at dinner is as important as the background music in a film and sets the tone of the night. The type of music I play when I entertain is determined by the guests of the night and spans from Vivaldi to Ella Fitzgerald to Black Coffee.

My dinner table is never without?

What a question, flowers! They are an essential part of decorating a beautiful table and they allow me to change the look of my table every time. I can go from a delicate and romantic spring look into a more rich and passionate mood. I personally feel that setting a beautiful table is setting the mood of the night. It is the stage where the emotions unfold. I think that the flowers and food are equally important. I have had a great time in dressing up my tables with the FLOWERBX’s team.

“What a question, flowers!
They are an essential part of decorating a beautiful table”
SOFIA BARATTIERI
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Favourite dinner party flowers?

Frankly, I love many different types of flowers, as my personality is quite eclectic. Therefore Freesia, Hyacinth, Narcissus and Tulips are among some of my favourites. However, I have to say that my least favourites are Roses and Orchids; I rarely use them. One of the flowers that I have used recently to decorate my table were Hydrogens and the results were outstanding.

What’s for dinner?

I love healthy, delicious food and the latest menu I served is one of my favourites. As the guests arrived, we served canapés of crab bonbons served with delicious figs, goat cheese puffs and foie gras. As a starter, we had delicate lobster cappuccino and for the main dish we served guests a seared beef with celeriac and parsnips boulanger and jerusalem artichoke chips. To finish the dinner, we gave guests an option of lemon and thyme sorbet or apple tartin with vanilla cream. However, one of my all-time winners is pasta with sea bass and cherry tomatoes; a dish that I inherited from my Neapolitan grandmother.

Home-cooked or catered?

If I have 18 or more people for dinner, I wouldn’t even dream of a home-cooked dinner, I need a caterer and actually, I need an army! But I equally love to host small dinners where there will definitely be home-made food. Our menus are always a combination of clean food and rich vegetarian dishes combined with traditional Italian cuisine. One of my favourite dishes is spaghetti with clams and cherry tomatoes.

“I don’t think this is really a secret, but I think that the best recipe for a successful dinner is a great seating plan.”
SOFIA BARATTIERI

Best kept party secret?

I don’t think this is really a secret, but I think that the best recipe for successful dinner is a great seating plan. I like to spend a lot of time trying to match people that can have fun sitting next to each other. It all comes down to the type of guest you have: the shy, the flamboyant, the chatterbox, the international. I like to draw up my seating plan two days earlier and revisit it the morning of the dinner. If I still like it, it means that it is going to work. A good mix creates the right chemistry and the night naturally turns into a success. So far so good.

Greatest recipe ever copied off a restaurant menu?

Frankly, I haven’t yet copied a recipe from a restaurant menu. I have a very old book filled with recipes that I have gathered since I was a teenager from my family and friends and different countries and cuisines. It is my go-to last minute dinner plans resource.

Dream dinner guests?

My dream dinner guest is tall with salt and pepper hair, walks in with effortless elegance and is called George Clooney, just kidding! The dream dinner guest is someone that contributes with great conversations to the night, someone that appreciates the effort that has gone into organising the evening and is ready to enjoy it heartily.

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Truth or dare?

Dare: I would love to steal Tom Aikens homemade bread and butter recipe!

What’s for pudding?

I love warm desserts like pear with zabaglione cream or apple tart with cream, but I think that a tiramisu done properly is always a recipe for success, literally.

Herbal tea or nightcap after dinner?

A Nightcap definitely. One of the greatest aspects of having home dinners is that the guests can move to the living room and the evening goes on!

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