A Table Built for Dinner Parties
by Young Victorians
Once upon a time, I was a very young twenty something in New York City. Three Manhattan years blurred together into a fugue of parties one doesn’t show up to before midnight, dinners at poorly lit, highly rated restaurants, fur coats paired with impractically high heels. I forged a family of other young twenty somethings. We brought each other Chinese delivery soup when one of us was sick and toasted each other with champagne for birthdays, promotions, and broken hearts. There seemed to be much more of the latter at the time. And then one spring morning, the kind of spring morning when anything seems possible, my boss asked me to relocate to San Francisco. I packed my bags, boarded a plane and said goodbye to all of that. Why not? Palm trees and a year round tan awaited me 3,000 miles West.
It turns out, however, the too-oft repeated Mark Twain quote on San Francisco’s weather rings true. I spent a very chilly San Franciscan summer missing New York, and even more acutely, craving the company of my far away friends. Not to mention my Boston-based boyfriend. Instead of dancing away my Saturday nights, I read in bed. Meal times were the most challenging. Did I dine out alone, feigning confidence to hold down a table for one? Problematically, my culinary repertoire was limited; in New York, the only thing I made in the kitchen was the proverbial reservation. In San Francisco, I had no choice but to learn to cook. Slowly, due to the winning combination of the proximity to world-class farmer’s markets and a dearth of social engagements, I started concocting elaborate meals for one. After all, Meyer lemons were more abundant than party invitations.
One evening, after a particularly complicated and rewarding dinner, I marinated on how I was going to carve a life in San Francisco. Likely due to a food-induced craze, my solution was to convert the living room of my “cozy” one bedroom into a dining room to host dinner parties. My social rolodex certainly could not support such a plan. But with my cooking abilities progressing nicely, I somehow justified commissioning abundantly talented local furniture designer Jeremiah Nielson to build a dining room table from Californian reclaimed local wood to seat 8.
Within a year, I had accumulated enough friends to host a semi-regular Sunday night dinner party. Some of the recipes turned out better than others. Perhaps more importantly, I have yet to burn down my apartment building.
When Juliette and I decided to find an apartment together, I had three requirements: in-unit washer & dryer, a dishwasher, and a formal dining room. Some people want a nursery for their baby or a large backyard for the pet. I require a separate room for my farm table. Something as beautiful and as conducive to happiness deserves it.
(photos by the lovely juliette tang)