A special dinner to Anna Molinari’s home who share with us the secrets to the perfect hospitality.
What makes a dinner truly unforgettable? The food, of course, is fundamental, as are the right mix of guests, sparkling conversation and faultless mise en place. So here – just for us – are the secrets to perfect hospitality from an elegant hostess: Anna Molinari, the designer who has made the romantic, feminine style her trademark.
Can you give us an example of a menu for spring dinner with friends?
I always recommend a very light menu preferably one based around fish. I’d suggest a combination of some of my favourites: a tuna tartare starter with an octopus salad and raw vegetables, and a choice of main courses – salted prawns or sea bass fillet with steamed vegetables.
How do you decorate the table?
The table should be amazing, a delight for the heart and the eyes. So I love being creative and a perfectionist here and I enjoy matching plates, glasses, flowers and tablecloths. They should always fit with the decor and follow the season. In the countryside I create tables like real flowery meadows with roses, jasmine, ears of corn and poppies. In the city though, I use lace tablecloths or ones embroidered with classic decorations, along with Baccarat glasses and chinaware with gold detailing. But I always have flowers – my great passion – and things borrowed from my fashion collections: branded fabric or small luxury details like mini-crystals and pearls.
Which flowers do you always have in your house?
I love all flowers and in all different colours, but at home I have to have the noblest and most elegant of them, the rose, because of the perfection of its petals and its association with love and passion.
What do you love cooking for friends? Do you have a particular forte?
I love cooking for my guests and I like surprising them with tasty recipes. One of my favourites is definitely the really unusual risotto with roses. It’s made with the select Blumarine rice, which is grown in our area.
Do you have a favourite wine?
I don’t particularly enjoy wine but I always have fizz for a toast!
Do you have a favourite dessert?
Tart with homemade jam.
One essential at the table is…
Can you recommend a little-known speciality from your region we should try?
With us Emilians, every party is an opportunity to celebrate together. And you can’t ignore the riches of our local cuisine. Its smells and tastes have accompanied me throughout my life. I always recommend tortellini emiliani – it’s not little-known but it’s a true delicacy!
Tell us about a memorable dinner you attended as a guest.
In May 2011 I was invited by Princess Caroline of Monaco to show my Blumarine collection as part of an event organised in the city. On that occasion I had the pleasure and the honour to dine with the Princess, a true exemplar of style and elegance.
Do you have any rules when it comes to choosing guests?
None in particular. I’m not the biggest fan of society parties though – I prefer quiet dinners with family and close friends.
What do you love wearing at the dinners you organise?
For my summer dinners for friends at my my house in Forte dei Marmi, I like wearing a colourful printed silk kaftan from my collection. But for more formal dinners, I prefer dresses with luxurious details but which still allow me to feel comfortable.
Do you have any guilty food pleasures?
Millefoglie with chantilly cream.
Did you grandmother give you any advice about entertaining which you have made your own?
What’s most important is love for others, welcoming friends and relatives with love and making them feel at ease with cheerfulness and spontaneity.
Do you collect anything?
I like jewellery very much and I have a personal collection of it I’m very attached to. The pieces were given to me by my family to mark particularly significant events and so they represent a wonderful record of important stages in my life.
Do you have any furniture obsessions?
I really love antiques and I like being able to choose the pieces for my houses myself. So I’m always looking out for distinctive antique furniture, especially at international antiques fairs.
Which piece in your house are you fondest of?
Over the years I’ve collected various nineteenth-century paintings. One of them is a marvellous Giovanni Boldini – the Italian impressionist – called “Portrait of the painter Ruth Sterling”. Another I’m particularly attached of is a painting of a young woman at a mirror by Federico Zandomeneghi.
Would you share three favourite addresses in your area with us (maybe a restaurant, a flea market, an artisan workshop…)?
The La Bottiglieria restaurant, in the Hotel Touring in Carpi, serves elaborate Emilian and Ligurian specialities with outstanding mise en place in elegant and stylish rooms. I’d also recommend visiting the various local markets for antiques and more modern pieces – for example in Guastalla, Modena and Gonzaga. If you’re as passionate about them as I am, you simply have to stop by!