Monday, February 05, 2007

The Great Bistro Feast of '07

For the past 4 years we have donated a "French bistro feast for 4" to the auction at The Child's old school. Except that by special arrangment, it is purchased every year by the same group of people and there are more than 4 of them. They bring the wine, we do the rest.

We have always had a superfantastic time at this event (and it looks like we'll do it again because this year Sandy procured it before the end of the first course) but this year seemed like the most fun yet. I don't even know what it was in particular but we just laughed all night long and it was beyond enjoyable.

Plus, and I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but dang! This year I surprised even myself with the general tastiness of the meal. Seriously, if I'd had this meal in a restaurant I would be telling everyone to get themselves post-haste to Chez Whatever. It was that good.

Apertif was, as always, green olives that have been sprinkled with orange zest and gently warmed. Goes great with champagne.

For the first course, I baked a little loaf of honey-wheat-walnut bread. This was toasted and served with a rough country pate (no, I didn't make it myself...Trader Joe's has an excellent one), a little smidge of Dijon mustard and cornichon.

The entree was a beef daube that was so superfantastic I want to make it every week. First came a mix of tomatoes, onions, garlic, capers, anchovy paste & cornichon that was then layered with thin slices of chuck roast. Add a bouquet garni and cook all afternoon and voila! a pot of sheer ambrosia.

We served it with a gratin of potatoes, parsley and cream plus a little dollop of a carrot-yellow pepper puree (mostly just for color but it was really tasty).

Here's the progress of the gratin: first a buttered dish and a bay leaf.

Then potatoes, each layer sprinkled with parsley and salt. Pour cream over it all, top with dollops of butter and another bay leaf and bake.

Couldn't be easier.

Sometimes I got so engrossed in hostessing that I forgot to take pictures of the food. Can you believe that? But after the entree we had a delicious salad of arugula, pancetta, Kalamata olives and large shavings of Parmesan, tossed in a lemon/olive oil dressing. Very refreshing and tasty. Then there was a cheese course with more of the walnut bread and table water crackers. 3 cheeses, manchengo, chevre with warm honey and a blissfully good Stilton with cranberries.

For dessert, I made crepes which were rolled around vanilla ice cream and frozen. They were served with raspberries and a hot fudge-rum sauce.

This leaning tower of ramekins gives you an idea of the state of the kitchen afterwards.

But we didn't care because this is what it looked like in the other room:

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Blogger Dariush Alavi opined...

Stop! Stop! I'm trying to control my calorie intake here! And I've just had dinner... and a very nice dinner it was too, but it was just a regular weeknight dinner, as opposed to the smorgasbord you've just inflicted on my salivary glands!

Darn it... I've just noticed, out of the corner of my eye, my secret stash of Polish fudge... decisions decisions... would one tiny little piece hurt...?

February 05, 2007 11:34 AM  
Blogger Leroy opined...

In the past, I have eaten often and well at Chez Thomas. This year you out did yourself. That daube was so good it should be illegal. If that weren’t enough, the potatoes & dessert were artery busting delights.

I can't remember when I've laughed harder or longer. Thanks for a memorable evening.

In gratitude, I award you two circles and a snap.

PS – Next year, we’re bringing Trudy.

February 05, 2007 11:55 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Gosh, Dariush, sorry. But you know, that fudge is just full of antioxidants. It's good for you!

Leroy, glad to know it wasn't just me. It was big fun. I think it's because we're all so clean and articluate. ;-)

February 05, 2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

Good for you. Maybe you should open a "Fabulovna" restaurant and hire chefs to follow your recipes.

February 05, 2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

I just want to hire minions to clean up after the party.

February 05, 2007 12:42 PM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

You can never have too many minions.

February 05, 2007 12:43 PM  
Blogger Seattle Coffee Girl opined...

I wonder if any of these menu items are a precursor of what we might see at Carnival...

Yummers. Somehow, this makes my recently-consumed Trader Joe's organic veggie chili seem quite bland and lackluster.

Crepes with ice cream are a personal favorite of mine. Nice touch!!

February 05, 2007 12:46 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Ain't that the truth, Iwanski.

SCG, Ice cream crepes, you say? Hmmmm.....

February 05, 2007 12:48 PM  
Blogger jp opined...

I agree with Iwanski. "Fabulovna" is a great name for your new bistro.

And Sling can pour drinks and I can... play eighties videos?

February 05, 2007 2:11 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

JP, only if Sling and Guido can get another flat screen tv. And assuming you have a permission slip from those bastards at Viacom.

February 05, 2007 2:14 PM  
Blogger gina opined...

Wow, amazing looking meal, but even better, great looking party! How fun! I miss my days of entertaining friends, making them heaps of food, and sitting around visiting, laughing, and just having a blast. Some day, when The Spouse retires and isn't on the road 14 hours a day, we'll do it again.

February 05, 2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger Jon opined...

Oh. My. God. This meal make Babbette's Feast seem like a Southern Baptist potluck supper.

When you open "Fabulovna" can I at least be a dishwasher? I'm looking for a job you know. . . .

February 05, 2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Gina, Y'all are just gonna have to get yourselves out here in the meantime.

J: "Babette's Feast"? That might be a stretch. (No tortoise were involved in the making of this meal). But yes. If I ever fall into a bucket of money so I can open my own restaurant on my own terms and not have to make money or work weekends, you can so work there.

February 05, 2007 9:51 PM  
Blogger Nicole opined...

If the name of the restaurant is Fabulovna, then I think it should be a tiara wearing kind of place.

I know I can eat in bistros whenever I want to but I'd still rather eat at your house.

February 06, 2007 5:07 AM  
Blogger jLow opined...

Holy Canoli!! The meal looked so scrumptious and the conversation looked like it was pretty tasty too!

You can hostess at my house anytime!

February 06, 2007 7:09 AM  
Blogger jLow opined...

and I second Nicole's idea:

You can never have too many tiara-wearing eateries.

February 06, 2007 7:11 AM  
Blogger Red7Eric opined...

I gained five pounds just reading that.

February 06, 2007 7:53 AM  
Blogger gina opined...

Lorraine - I'm all over that invitation! I'll email you my expected time of arrival. How does this weekend sound? ;) My stomach is growling.

February 07, 2007 8:05 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Any time, Nicole. The door is always open.

Jlow, I think we should always wear tiaras, all the time.

Red: Salad for you this week.

'K, Gina. 6:30 Saturday. Bring wine.

February 07, 2007 8:42 AM  

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