How I Host: Angela Allen

 
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I've been a long-time admirer of Angela Allen's work. An abstract painter based in Nashville whose preferred palette is black and white—"Black, always the anchor." Her pieces are feminine but strong, understated yet impressive, so its no wonder that her hosting sentiments are just as fresh and remarkable. Angela let us into the downtown loft she shares with her musician husband to take a peek into her curated life. Enter: collected vinyl, stacks of the most enchanting books and, of course, perfectly placed art. Welcome to French in the city, friends. Your dinner party dreams just went up a level.

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How would you describe your hosting style? 5 words or less!

Simple, opulent, refined and approachable.

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Environment is key. What is your favorite space to host a party and why? 

In an apartment with a view of the city. My husband and I love city life and urban settings. The sparkle and movement outside provide the perfect backdrop to a gathering.

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Do you have a signature drink or dish you like to serve? Recipe on hand? — bonus points! 

Always dessert. I opt for simple, decadent sweets that involve chocolate.

CHOCOLATE SWIRL MERINGUES


Ingredients

For the Meringues

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice


For Topping

  • Melted dark chocolate
  • Flaky sea salt


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of your mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until small bubbles start to form. Then increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually incorporate the sugar, adding about 2 tablespoons at a time. 

3. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat on high for about 5 minutes. The meringue should be stiff, glossy and able to hold it’s shape on a spoon or whisk, even when turned upside down. Scrap down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute more.

4. Scoop the meringue out in rounded spoonfuls onto your prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1-2 inches between each mound. Do not flatten them or worry about their shape at this time.

5. Make sure your melted chocolate is smooth and liquid, but not hot. Place a small amount of each on top of each meringue. Then use a toothpick to swirl the toppings into the meringue, shaping the meringue as you do this. Don’t flatten the meringues out too much, as they will spread some during baking. Sprinkle the tops of the meringues with a pinch of sea salt.

6. Transfer the swirled meringues to the preheated oven and reduce the temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for about 40 minutes. The outsides should be dry to the touch. Remove the meringues from the oven and allow them to cool completely on the baking sheets, then gently peel them away from the parchment paper.

7. The meringues can be served immediately, or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

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What's your go-to color palette for design?

Black and white with touches of gold details.

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With events, it's important to touch all the senses. The perfect playlist includes...?

Music is such an important part of our daily life and we've logged many hours building our record collection. The perfect playlist includes Miles Davis, Peggy Lee, Stan Getz, Stevie Wonder, Sade, Nina Simone and Kendrick Lamar. Songs that have energy but don't overpower the mood.

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Who are your dream dinner guests?

My dream guest list includes Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Tom Ford, Pablo Picasso, Gordon Parks, Joseph Dirand, Coco Chanel and Miles Davis. I love beautiful, classic and passionate people.

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What inspired your design for "How I Host"?

My grandmother's afternoon coffee dates with her friends was my hosting inspiration. She always served coffee in her ornate china cups. I always thought it was so elegant and European. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than conversation over coffee, pastries, berries and desserts.

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What pieces did you choose and why?

I chose to use plates from the Vittorio Collection, Sande gold flatware, optic white linen napkins, black marble candle tapers, white marble serving trays and black Havelock dining chairs. Each piece created the opulence to match the vintage china cups.

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What's your best hosting tip for beginners?

Embrace your point of view and offer that to your guests. It's refreshing to see a unique style when invited to someone's home or into their hosting experience. Relax and always serve dessert.