The New York City Dinner Party Scene

New York City might be filled with some of the best and trendiest restaurants in the world, but an invitation to a dinner party in a private home is the kind of thing you dream of. Why? As a singleton, it's really the best way to meet new friends. Dinner party guests are more often than not the cream of the crop out of the host's/hostess' social circle. 

My apartment is sadly not designed for entertaining a dinner party, so I feel like a lucky girl when I'm welcomed into someone's home. These invitations come by-way of friends, acquaintances, or even through people that I've met years ago and somehow I made it into their circulation. In any case, it always makes me feel honored. Attending a nice dinner party is a way more meaningful night than staying in bed and eating Greek yogurt, that's for sure. (Although, I wouldn't dare knock that, seeing as how I'm currently in my bed, digging into a little container of Fage Total 2% with Strawberry in between thoughts.)

Every dinner party has been memorable in one way or another. I once attended one on the Lower East Side where "dessert" was quite the spectacle. The hostess built an edible Empire State Building creation from store-bought pound cakes and spackled loads of homemade frosting to stick the blocks of cake together while everyone had a post-meal mingle. So imaginative.

Here's a video I made of a recent dinner party at a beautiful apartment in West Chelsea:

 

 

And here's a little peek at one that I attended a few months ago in SoHo:

Click through the slideshow for captions.

On the Dukan Diet

Pictured here is a griddled beef patty on top of a green salad from Bill's Burger—no dressing

Last year, I decided to try the Dukan Diet, otherwise known as "The Kate Middleton Diet." It's a four-phase protein-centric/low-carb diet that has garnered a reputation as France's long-time secret to staying slim. There are two steps for losing the weight and two steps for keeping it off forever. I had heard about it from my friend Ashley.

"It's so amazing, Jess," said Ashley, as she divulged the details over one of our #singlegirldinners, "I've lost five pounds so far. For breakfast, I'll have a Greek yogurt and boiled egg. At lunch, I'll have a steak, and, for dinner, grilled fish with a green salad."

Well, that sounded reasonable enough, so I bought the book and went to DukanDiet.com to figure out my customized plan. It generated a chart that outlined a 42-day plan to get to my true weight. For me, it was a matter of losing four pounds. For others, their customized plan may take hundreds of days and even years in order to achieve their true weight, as this diet was originally designed for the obese. 

My meals looked something like:

Breakfast

Fage Total 2% with strawberry

1 boiled egg

2 slices of bresaola

2 slices of lean ham

Lunch

Sliced steak with charred scallions

6 sticks of surimi 

Beef jerky

Dinner

Shrimp cocktail

Tofu shiratake noodles with bolognese sauce

or

Grilled salmon with a micro-greens salad

I lasted all of 21 days. (I believe it was a corn dog at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island that pushed me over the edge.) The hardest part for me was giving up on pasta–I would dream of oodles and oodles of noodles. To this day, I'm shocked that I made it that far without succumbing to the spaghetti carbonara at Otto. Shocked, I tell you.

But it did work. I was able to maintain my new weight of being three pounds lighter while I was doing it. (I know three pounds sounds measly, but it makes such a difference on my frame.) This was, of course, in conjunction with regular exercise and other stipulations in the diet, such as eating oat bran daily. I was on a mission. My body looked leaner, tighter, and toner. I even saw it in my face.

While I didn't complete the 42-day plan, my big takeaway from the experience was that the secret of maintaining weight loss lies in:

1. Making lean protein and non-starchy vegetables the basis of a regular diet

2. Incorporating regular exercise

3. And, this can't be underestimated, you have to really want it

Simple as that. Just something for me to think about as I enter 2013. After all, New Year's Day and diets go hand-in-hand.

Tyann's Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

Back in August, my friend Vi, the talented designer behind Dolly Pearl, hosted a potluck dinner in her gorgeous Greenwich Village apartment for all the girls. One of my favorite dishes was a kale, frisée, and fennel salad that my friend Tyann made, which was tossed in a deliciously creamy Caesar dressing made from a fat-free Greek yogurt base. It was positively addictive and guilt-free. 

*Follow Tyann on Twitter: @tbaybj


6-ounce single serving of Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt 
Grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 table spoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

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You're going to have to go by your tastebuds on this one. Use the above measurement as a guide, but taste as you blend the ingredients and adjust accordingly!

Mixed Berries in Cream with Orange Blossom Honey

I'm not much of a baker. When it comes to dessert, I usually leave it to the professionals and pick something out from a nice bakery. This, however, is just the kind of dessert recipe that I can easily handle--no fuss, and with just a little bit of muss.


Mixed berries
Brown sugar or agave nectar
Plain Greek yogurt
Sour cream
Orange blossom honey

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1. Rinse the berries and drain. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle some brown sugar or agave nectar over them. Add a splash of water and gently fold. Set aside for about 15 minutes or so.
2. In a bowl, mix equal parts of the plain Greek yogurt and sour cream until well-blended. The quantity, of course, depends on how many berries you have.
3. Spoon the berries into a bowl or onto a plate, add a good wallop of the cream mixture on top, and splatter the honey over everything.