A Casual Spanish Supper

I guess it's natural that, as a lover of all things edible, I tend to pass my time with people who are like-minded.

But it never ceases to amaze me when I go to a friend's house for dinner and find myself gathering inspiration and aspiring to the same level of hostlydom. Perhaps because, as one who entertains and cooks, I know the effort behind the perfect table.  And making it seem effortless.

So what's a dinner at a friend's on a Thursday night look like in Spain?  How about, to start, some small-batch vermouth with salty Spanish-style potato chips on the side.  Charcuterie and cheeses on the side, please.

It's summer, so a salmorejo-gazpacho hybrid is in order. Another key to throwing a seamless fête? Whatever you do, own it.  Is your gazpacho not exactly gazpacho? Well, you meant it to be that way. Overtoasted your crostini? You prefer them crunchier. Et cetera.

The simplicity is what killed me at this dinner. Just octopus and potatoes. With a smattering of paprika. Room temperature, perhaps slightly warm. But perfect. And then I just about melted when a tiny bowl of recently whipped-up aioli arrived to the table. Yes! Yes!

Right off the pages of Gourmet. Arroz con almejas. Then sweet, homemade rosquillas.

Another key to throwing the perfect dinner? Abundance. There is luxury in letting leftover ice cream melt as everyone sits over their remaining wine, hashing out conversations about washed-up actors, porn and politics. Don't rush it back to the fridge. Just sit back and pick at the sweets, for hours, as wine turns to café turns to gintonic.

That's a sign of a good dinner party.