Dinner at the Long Table captures the energy, comfort, and good food that are the hallmark of Andrew Tarlow's big and small dinner parties—not to mention his New York food dynasty: 6 restaurants, a bar, a hotel, and a bakery.
He and his co-author Anna Dunn shared some of their family-style entertaining wisdom as it relates to making Thanksgiving a little warmer for everyone (you already have the food covered, right?). It's maybe the only time any of us serve 15 at once, but for them, it's Thursday night.
Make space. Create room within your rooms. Move the furniture around and find new places to sit and gather.
If you can, start a fire and bring in some wood. Encourage your guests to tend to the fire. The smell of wood smoke on a crisp November day is always welcome.
No fireplace? No worries. Build a help-yourself bar cart and set out some snacks and cocktail fixings. People need something to do at the beginning of a party. Let them make their own Negroni. Include different bitter and vermouth options.
You may not know this, but every Thanksgiving should end with dancing.
Make several shorter playlists. Make the first one mellow and instrumental, so that people will begin talking to each other and not get caught up pondering familiar lyrics. Once everyone is seated, play one that is a little more lively. Get some rock and roll and soul in there. And finally after dinner, move the table aside. You may not know this, but every Thanksgiving should end with dancing. Ask your kids what they want to hear—they will be the heart of the party. Whatever you play, make sure it has a good beat and consider closing with the Talking Heads, “This Must Be the Place” or Bowie and Mercury’s classic, “Under Pressure.” Always end the night on a sentimental and sincere note.
Here's the playlist—created by DJ Josh Wiles—we play at dinner parties on our book tour:
Listen, forget lugging food across town. There's nothing worse than trying to balance a Bain Marie of curried squash soup while a NYC taxi takes a left turn onto the BQE. Instead, invite everyone over early and cook together. Have a meeting in the morning and decide who will prep and carry out what dishes. You know the bakers, and you know who will want to be at the oven door every ten minutes. Assign everyone the appropriate station.
And if you don’t have a long table, build one—together.