Experiences Over Things: Dinner Party with IfOnly

Posted on: Friday, April 8, 2016

Dinner Party with IfOnly - Empty Table

“Spending money on experiences ‘provide[s] more enduring happiness’…Experiences tend to make people happier because they are less likely to measure the value of their experiences by comparing them to those of others…Those waiting for experiences were in better moods than those waiting for material goods.” – Excerpt from Buy Experiences, Not Possessions article

You’ve likely seen things like the above pop up in your newsfeed in the past, all about why you should spend your time and money on experiences vs. possessions. While I love getting a new purse or pair of shoes (#notsorry), it never quite competes with an amazing experience, whether that’s a concert, vacation or cooking class. The whole topic of gifts vs. experiences has been a topic of conversation around our house lately, as yesterday was Eric’s birthday. For birthdays and holidays, we’ve been mostly sticking to gifting one another experiences – we’ve done cooking and pickling classes, concerts, surprise weekend trips in sweet Airbnbs, etc. – and thinking about each brings back really fun memories. Of course, tangible gifts are always good too, but experiences seem to have more longevity in terms of what we end up talking about and remembering.

I recently discovered IfOnly, an online marketplace where you can book different cool, one-in-a-lifetime experiences — from jam-making classes and wine tasting trips to sailing trips around the Bay and meeting cool athletes, musicians and designers. One cool difference between IfOnly and other experience-based sites if that every experience booked also gives back to a specific cause. They work with TONS of nonprofits (check out the full list on their site).

I had to chance to try out an IfOnly experience and decided to have a chef come to our house and cook dinner! E and I really love inviting people into our home to drink wine, enjoy a meal and just spend time together, but usually we are the ones cooking! This was the first time I’ve had someone cover over and cook FOR us at our apartment. I picked this Californian cuisine “A Feast for the Senses” meal and invited a few friends over for dinner last Sunday evening. The experience included a three-course meal, as well as all of the fresh ingredients, set-up and clean-up and gratuity.

The chef who cooked our meal (also known as an IfOnly luminary) was Marisa Cole and she was SO kind and talented. She was helpful beforehand running the proposed menu by me and super accommodating when I shared that we would like a pescetarian meal and no mushrooms. She went above and beyond to make it such a fun and special night, even doing little things like decanting the wine, putting together a cheese plate for us prior to the ‘official meal’ started and bringing a dessert wine over for us to drink after dinner. I’m pretty sure we were the most unprepared and un-fancy group of people she’s cooked for (I had to run to CVS to get real napkins after realizing we only had paper towels…) and that our kitchen was the smallest she has ever cooked in, but she was super relaxed and go-with-the-flow about everything.
Here’s what we ate and some photos! Also…my iPhone photos don’t do her food justice, especially given it was dark by the time we had our entrees and dessert. (And make sure to scroll to the end of the post to see a $50 discount code off your next IfOnly experience!)
APPETIZER: Radicchio, olive, and fennel panzanella salad. This was absolutely delicious. Marisa plated this salad as a tower – so beautiful!
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Above Shot
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Salad 3
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Salad 2
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Salad Top Shot
MAIN COURSE: Seared diver scallops with tangerine beurre blanc served with gnudi (similar to gnocchi, but not made with potatoes and just made with ricotta cheese, eggs and flour) with asparagus and spring peas. These scallops were fresh from the ferry building that morning!
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Entree
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Entree 2
DESSERT: Ginger-nut strawberry tart with chocolate custard. This was gluten-free and there was no sugar in the crust! So delicious and healthy!

Dinner Party with IfOnly - Dessert

I highly recommend hosting your own dinner party with Marisa – my friends all texted me the next day saying how delicious and amazing everything was (and we ate the amazing leftovers the next day!).

Check out IfOnly for unique experience ideas – you get $50 off your first experience purchase using the code LUCKY! If you’re an artist/chef/local expert on a cool topic, you should sign up to be an IfOnly luminary…it’s a great way to inspire others, grow your clientele, make some extra $$ and give back to a cause you care about!

  • Lauren

    I loved seeing your experience! All of the food looks so delicious!! My experience was meeting a grizzly bear at the SF Zoo :)



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