Happy Friday, everyone! I’m excited to share some photos with you all – taken by my friend, the talented Sara Beth Turner – from a beautiful spring dinner party I had the privilege of cooking for recently. The hostess, my friend Rebecca Strauser, is a fabulous cook herself, but she was happy to take the evening off to focus on the décor. The setting was absolutely stunning. I mean...the table settings, the flowers, and that lighting fixture (swoon!). It was an all-girls affair, and even though I was the chef for the evening, Rebecca insisted that I come sit down between courses and eat with everyone. Given that I knew most of the women there, it felt more like play than work!


I made a spring menu of some of my favorite recipes from the cookbook: for an appetizer, I made my favorite naan pizzas with ricotta and shaved asparagus, plus a platter of prosciutto and olives. First course was spring pea risotto, followed by honey-Dijon-roasted salmon with an arugula, radicchio, and fennel salad. And for dessert? Gluten-free almond cake with wildflower honey, Greek yogurt, and fresh berries. The wines were paired by my sommelier friend Jean-Luc le Du: he chose a sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley (La Grange Tiphaine Nouveau Nez 2012) to pair with the pizzas and the salad, and for the salmon, a beautiful Loire Valley Chinon - the Philippe Alliet Chinon Vieilles Vignes 2012. Both wines were fantastic, and paired perfectly with the menu.


As much as I loved being a part of this evening, I loved even more knowing that this dinner was held in support of life. For the past several years, I’ve donated a private chef’s dinner to help raise funds for Avail, a NYC-based non-profit that provides free care to women facing unplanned pregnancies. From early pregnancy tests to one-on-one counseling, Avail offers a safe and supportive place for women (or couples) to figure out next steps when facing an unexpected pregnancy. Many women come to Avail feeling like there's no way they can handle having a baby, but they leave feeling empowered knowing that there is a support system in place, should they choose to continue their pregnancy. They offer ongoing pregnancy support, with parenting prep classes and practical resources (like baby clothes, diapers, and doctor referrals), as well as connections to adoption agencies. And for women who have had an abortion, they also offer post-abortion support groups and counseling.


Every year, it's incredible to hear the stories of women who came to Avail, terrified and resigned to ending their pregnancy, but who ended up choosing life. The gratitude they express – for the support and compassion they received, and for the gift of their unplanned child – is just incredible. I am really proud of the work that Avail does, and so happy to support it. I’ll be at their auction tonight, with another dinner party up for grabs – we’ll see who wins this year!


Have a great weekend everyone! See you Monday.

Xo, Anna

P.S. I am announcing the winner of the Bowl + Spoon giveaway in my newsletter this morning! Make sure to check your inbox!

(Photos by Sara Beth Turner)