Living Entertaining:

Ode’ to Companionship

Photography by Winnie Au. Shared on

Dinner by Danny Amend. Wine paired by Franciacorta

What is it about the act of gathering around the dinner tables that makes us let down the guard we often carry with us? Is it the sharing of ideas and stories that make us laugh, cutting through the day-to-day BS, or is it simply the peaceful companionship? Throughout history, spanning across the world and every culture, the act of breaking bread has been known to feed more than the physical body. It also nourishes friendship and generosity. To eat with someone implies a level of comfort with that person; it’s a true and vulnerable moment.  As I began to sluth out a bit on the topic, I learned that the word ‘companion’ derives from the Latin com meaning ‘with’ and  panis meaning ‘bread’ – essentially teaching us food is the fuel of friendship!

I don’t know about you but I find this fascinating and it reiterates why I love to cook, gather and entertain. It brings me more joy than any one thing. The Franciacorta wine dinner I hosted for 10 dear friends captured the essence of this idea – perfectly intimate, relaxed and jovial all at once. It was also an amazing treat; I mean how often do you have the incredible chef Danny Amend cook a five-course meal for you in your home and pair it perfectly with delicate sparkling wine! It brings me right back to the word ‘companion’, of course every seasonal flavor and food has its perfect Franciacorta wine counterpart, bringing out the best in it just the way a true friend does!

As my friends began to trickle in – designer Max Osterweis, Claire Distenfeld, artist José Parlá, fellow foodie Laila Gohar, Leandra Medine & Abie Cohen, Hannah Bronfman & Brendan Fallis, and Kerry Pieri – we started our evening on the terrace around the fire. Our nibbles included cured diver scallops on rye crackers with cucumber and preserved kumquat paired with Franciacorta Saten, La Montina to highlight the bright citrus notes. Taking inspiration from the abundant spring menu, I created edible arrangements of Good Water Farms pea tendrils and scattered them throughout the terrace.

When the night turned crisp the ladies moved inside and left the men to enjoy the stunning skyline, shifting from bright blue to midnight blue. When we gathered around the table we all took a moment to celebrate Claire, who had gotten engaged the day prior – raising our glasses and sparking a beautiful conversation surrounding love. The meal continued with a delicate pea and sunflower shoot salad followed by the swooniest of flowering greens and a taleggio risotto paired with Franciacorta Brut, Majolini which boasts a fully-developed, dry taste ideal for appetizers and starters. Finally the star of the meal was grilled swordfish served with lily bulbs and spring peas and matched with Franciacorta Rose, Villa Franciacorta which beautifully captures the rare elegance of cherry, black currant and citrus flavors. On the palate it is fresh, balanced and savory making it a great companion for Danny’s final full flavor dish.

As we discussed Claire’s engagement and Max’s wedding planning, we each began to tell our own tales of courtship and love. Stories of companionship! Each story had its own zest and laughter was abundant! I couldn’t help but tell how a particular girl named Milo sparked a jealousy in me that gave me that needed push to take mine and Victor’s relationship from platonic, to much much more. Whatever it takes! It was an incredibly intimate and special dinner – a gathering of true companions breaking bread – what more do you ever need?

Flowering Greens Risotto

Chef Danny Amend


serves 4-6

  • 2 cups carnaroli rice (I used acquerello, the best!)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 8 cups flowering greens, tender stems and leaves cut into ¼ inch pieces, buds and flowers trimmed and set aside.
  • 1 cup green garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups spring scallions or onions, thinly sliced
  • 12 ramps, bottoms thinly sliced, tops cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Prep

  • In a large saute pan, add the 1/3 cup olive oil. Turn the heat on high and add half of the green garlic (½ cup). When the green garlic begins to sizzle, add half of the scallions and saute until the mixture is lightly golden.
  • Add the ramps and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the greens (minus the buds and flowers) and saute until the greens stems are just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Set aside and reserve
  • In a small sauce pot, bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Turn off the heat.
  • Now begin the risotto… Heat a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan or shallow pot over medium-high heat and add the remaining olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the remaining green garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  • Next, add the carnaroli rice to the pan a reduce the heat to medium. Constantly stir the rice until the it begins to stick to the bottom of the pot and the green garlic begins to become golden brown. Add the white wine.
  • At this point, the risotto will need to be stirred constantly. Keep cooking the rice until the white wine has virtually no hint of alcohol. Add a good 2 pinches of salt.
  • Add ½ cup of the hot stock, and continue to stir until most of the stock is absorbed. Repeat this process until there are 1.5 cups of stock left. This should take about 20-25 minutes.
  • At this point, the rice should almost be perfectly al dente. Check the rice by eating a grain or two. The outside should be firm, but give and the inside should have a little bite, or tooth to it. If the rice seems a bit under done, add ½ cup of water at this point.
  • Add the final 1.5 cups of stock, the cooked greens, lemon zest and the rest of the scallions. Stir constantly for 1 minute.
  • Turn off the heat and add the butter, parmigiano reggiano and stir for another minute, creaming out the risotto.
  • Fold in the flowering greens buds and flowers and the lemon juice, check for salt and add some freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately!
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