We had the pleasure of sitting down at the dinner table with artist, designer and incredible cook; Annalisa Ferraris. A dear friend of Poho and a ...

We had the pleasure of sitting down at the dinner table with artist, designer and incredible cook; Annalisa Ferraris. A dear friend of Poho and a talented host, she shares her top tips on how to throw the ideal dinner party and talks all things flowers!

Favourite season to host, produce wise?

Late spring, because that’s when zucchini flowers and artichokes are in season- which make for such beautiful entree’s. 

They also please most dietary requirements, which is always good! 


Is there a certain genre of music or artist you listen to when preparing to have guests?

Usually classical music, French singer Emma Peters, Pavarotti or Fontaine’s DC. 

It’s a real mixed bag. 


What are the pillars of a great menu?

Consistency of theme, and making sure you dance between lighter courses and heavier ones. 

If I start with something fried (like olives or zucchini flowers) I’ll follow with something fresh and light- caprese salad, crudités or king fish carpaccio. 

Continuing that balance throughout, so you’re left feeling satisfied but not heavy. 


Any hard and fast rules on seating plans?

If it’s a big dinner party I’ll generally keep couples together, but the only hard rule is I’ll always sit myself closest to the kitchen so it’s less disruptive when I have to dash in. 


Do you have a certain fragrance you wear when you're hosting as opposed to hitting the town?

Depends on the vibe of the evening, if it’s a more casual party with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres  

I’ll wear my going out scent which is Le Labo Santal. 

If it’s a formal dinner party, I’ll wear something a little softer like BDK Nuit de Sable from Libertines. 


Another scent related question - do you light candles, or incense or would you prefer the aroma of what is cooking to take over?

Oh I love this question! 

I’ll light my oil burner or incense once I’ve finished cleaning the house, before I start cooking. 

Then once I start cooking, I like to have the aromas from the kitchen filling the house without having to compete with scents. 

And once everyone is sitting down, 

I think it’s important to only be able to smell the food, as that marks the beginning of the meal. 

There’s nothing worse than scented candles on a dinner table in my opinion. 

I’ll keep a scented a candle or oil burning in the bathroom for the duration of the evening, for both scent and ambience. 


What is a special memory associated with cooking/food from your childhood?

Oh I have so many! 

But, a stand out would be making ravioli with my Nonna. 

At three years old , I would be by her side standing on a chair helping to make ravioli. 

Nonna would make hundreds at a time up until she was in her nineties, and I attribute my ability to make them entirely to her. 

We would also have tomato bottling day at her house (think Looking for Alibrandi.) 

Big drums of boiling water, tomato’s everywhere, cousins, aunts, cousins cousins, and Nonna cooking and yelling at us all from the kitchen. 

It was a day of endurance, in both physicality and eating. 

To pace one’s self was the key. 

What flowers are you drawn to when dressing your home for a dinner party?

I’m always partial to a hydrangea, and amaranth. 

They have an elegance to them whilst also being sculptural which I love. 


Do you ever include a petal or a flower essence when cooking?

Oh yes! Definitely! 

If it’s a spring menu, I like to start with flowers and end with flowers- 

I’ll create a menu that is an ode to spring and takes you through the season from beginning to end. 

And, regardless of which season it is, I think dessert always lends itself to a petal or two. 


When entertaining in your home at Whale Beach is there anything you incorporate from the garden?

Up here I’m lucky to have a garden full of hydrangeas and a reserve next door- 

So I’ll often head into the garden with my snips and come back with bundles of hydrangeas, rambling foliage, and some wild Nasturtium’s to decorate a tart, or throw into a salad.

There’s also a magic little corner of Whale beach that is home to hundreds of green and white calla Lillie’s, that I’ll often raid before guests arrive! 

The odd seashell is likely to make an appearance on the table too. 


Biggest gripe when it comes to a guest's etiquette?

Turning up to someone’s house empty handed. 

Lastly, Shoes on or shoes off in the house?

I’m partial to an outfit looking complete so I prefer to keep shoes on- it’s aesthetics over comfort for me. 

(cc: Carrie Bradshaw, at Kyra and Chuck’s Baby Shower) 

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