As a restaurateur, Esti Parsons represents an important branch of Boston’s hospitality family tree. She owns sleek South Boston spot the Maiden with husband Drew, bassist for the band American Hi-Fi, and brother-in-law John. But her roots also run deep with decades-spanning pal and former business partner Christopher Myers: He was the “man of honor” at their wedding, and she’s now general manager at Myers+Chang, his lauded eatery with wife Joanne Chang. Parsons enjoys putting together a tablescape that integrates elements from given and chosen family. “It’s like creating strange little worlds,” she says, adding a rustic loaf of bread is a staple no matter the occasion.
1. Every year, the Parsons invite Myers and Chang to spend Thanksgiving together at Esti’s mother’s house. Her mom is an avid collector of antique curios and over the years has been gifting Parsons with these vintage deer figurines. “Some are creepy and some are quirky,” Parsons laughs. All are adorable reminders of mom’s love.
2. The established hospitality vet has industry connections akin to extended family—so naturally, she’s let in on their family secrets too. Exhibit A: Lydia Shire’s cranberry sauce, a favorite side dish. The doyenne of Boston dining once shared her father’s cinnamon and clove-bedecked hush-hush recipe as a special holiday treat.
3. These fresh flowers, including roses, dark purple Landini lilies and eucalyptus, represent Parsons’ love of gardening—a relaxing, meditative hobby for someone always on the go. “In my next life I’ll be a farmer,” Parsons says, adding she caught the hospitality bug from her parents, enthusiastic entertainers who cooked using home garden-plucked ingredients.
3 cups water, room temperature
3 1 / 3 cups white flour
3 / 4 cup wheat flour
3 / 4 cup leaven
2 tablespoons sea salt
• Mix water, flours, leaven and sea salt together in a glass or ceramic bowl until all ingredients are well incorporated. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size.
• Run hands around the edges and pour dough on to a floured surface. Cut in two, cover with a cloth, and let sit for an hour.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Once the loaves have rested and risen a second time, put one loaf directly on an oven stone. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the loaf over and cook for 10 minutes. Tap the bottom of the loaf. (There should be a hollow sound and the crust should be hard). If the crust is still a little soft, bake for 5 more minutes or until hard. Repeat for the second loaf.