There are few people we’d rather be dining with and few places we’d rather be dining than with Ruthie Rogers at the River Café in London. Thanks to our “Dining With” editorial feature, we can enjoy the next best thing by discovering the legendary American-born British chef’s best kept entertaining tips while enjoying some of the seasonal best River Café dishes through her newly launched online shop.
As we slowly start to ease back into seeing friends and gathering around the table to make memories, there is no one better from whom to take tips than Ruthie to pull off the perfect dinner party. From the best cocktail to the ultimate playlist, it’s time to take notes
Dress up or dress down?
Although I love getting dressed up for a party, I take the lead from two best friends. If Paddy Mckillen says he wouldn’t dream of telling people what to wear in his hotels; Claridges, the Berkeley and the Connaught, why would I? And Josh Berger once came to Thanksgiving dinner in his pyjamas. Need I say more?
Cocktail hour means?
I love a cocktail, but really only have them on holidays or in the River Cafe when we go there for dinner.
I was recently with a group of American friends who reminisced about the cultural importance of cocktails in their families, and though we had finished our first course we decided to have Negronis in between!
In our new online shop we are doing our own River Cafe Negroni in a bottle.
On my playlist?
Still stuck in the music I grew up with - Motown, and more.
My dinner table is never without?
Sea salt, black pepper and Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.
Favourite dinner party flowers?
I usually don’t put flowers on the table but always have large vases of them in view. I ask Whitney and follow her advice. This applies to everything actually.
What’s for dinner?
Well, my favourite meal is taglierini with slow-cooked tomato sauce, followed by seasonal vegetables...
Home-cooked or catered?
Um, what do you think?
“Invite the people you love”
Best kept party secret?
I’m not good with secrets, just invite the people you love.
Greatest recipe ever copied off a restaurant menu?
Good question. Just after we started the River Cafe, Richard and I had the unique penne con zucchini at Maria Grazie in Amalfi. I called Rose and described it to her and when I came back it was on our menu.
Dream dinner guests?
President Obama and Michelle, more than ever right now.
Slow-cooked Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible into rounds
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers
2x 1kg jars peeled plum tomatoes, drained of their juices
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or frying pan, add the onions and cook over a low heat until they are very soft. This will take at least 40 minutes - the onions must eventually disappear into the tomato sauce. Some 5 minutes before the end of cooking, add the garlic.
Now add the tomatoes and stir to break them up. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for at least 1.5 hours. When the sauce is ready, it will be dark red and extremely thick, with no juice at all, and the oil will have come to the surface. Serve hot.
Truth or dare?
What’s for pudding?
Very soon, peach sorbet.
Herbal tea or nightcap after dinner?
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