How did your upbringing in Spain influence your entertaining sensibilities? I grew up in Asturias, northern Spain. My grandparents had a house in the countryside and a little farm where I used to spend the summers and many weekends. The milk, eggs, vegetables and meat we ate came from there. As you can imagine, when it comes to entertaining, the quality of food has become really important for me. My grandmother and mother are excellent cooks which has set the bar high. In the countryside, any celebration was relaxed, fun and creative. A close friend of my family who is an artist used to paint the menus like miniature works of art or make portraits on napkins late at night. I think when Spanish people entertain we are more focused to make sure that the guests are having fun rather than achieving perfection.
What are your preferred elements for a perfect al fresco meal? Fresh flowers, playful tablecloths and one of a kind pieces that I usually buy at flea markets, charity shops or directly from artisans like hand-painted pottery.
What are some of the differences you’ve observed when it comes to entertaining in the U.S versus the UK? The eclecticism of British interiors translates into the tables often. They are not afraid to mix and match (and they know how to do it!). Entertaining in the US seems to be more formal, although I think in the last few years this is changing and people like to experiment more. The American way to entertain is well thought out, I love the attention to details and admire how they celebrate each season accordingly.
What do you love most about the culture in Madrid and London, respectively? Madrid is a friendly city with a lot of charm. Unlike many other cities, there are still many independent businesses like boutiques, patisseries or restaurants that have been opened over centuries. It has a regal character, people still like to keep traditions alive without forgetting having fun.
London is a vibrant city where many cultures collide. I love its openness and I always feel inspired when walking around as every day you can discover something new. I also love that most of the Museums are free. During my first year there, I spent many afternoons at the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert and the Tate. As an Art Historian myself, it was a real treat.
Favorite interior designer? The late Spanish interior designer Jaime Parladé
Chintz or animal print? Both!
If you were to receive a dinner invitation from anyone, who would you hope to invite you? Tory Burch, she seems to be a very gracious host and her tables (and homes) are divine!
Favorite indulgence? Churros with hot chocolate.
Who sets a perfect table? When I need inspiration I always tend to look at Alberto Pinto’s tables, he was a master. I also love event designer Fiona Leahy tables, she really knows how to set the perfect table for each occasion and her imagination seems to have no limits.
What are some of your favorite tableware pieces? Traditional hand-embroidered linens from Lagartera (Spain), French wooden flatware and two hand-painted vases that I recently bought.
Most memorable moment around a table shared with friends? There are a few but the most recent one was a month ago at one of my closest friend’s wedding. I was surrounded by some of my favorite people in the world, food was superb, and we just were having so much fun.