We enjoy a memorable evening with laughter, wine, good food, wine, family stories, wine, and well, you get the idea.
I start the planning with the decorations, naturally. I visit the Greenmarket for plants and natural and organic creations to fulfill my idea of creating a warm, candle-infused, magical evening of good food and friends.
The River Garden stand where I purchase my eucalyptus -- and this year's elegant lamb's ear wreath:
I found charming beeswax candles shaped into angels and christmas trees -- and in gold -- perfect colors to match the kitchen!
All the girls chip in for the food and I plan the menu with Celeste from Marquette Restaurant (www.DiFioreMarquetcafe.com), located around the corner on 12th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place.
Celeste is a doll! She makes the entire catering experience fun, easy and exciting.
The restaurant is so charming - I think I'm back in France when dining there - and there is art on all the walls. Heavenly.
Celeste too keeps a file so that she can pull up what the menu was I ordered in previous years.
For this party, I like to serve a hot soup -- like fennel carrot -- or this year's no-cream cauliflower.
I serve the soup in fun, interesting terrines that look like squash, pumpkins, and other winter vegetables that I got from Williams Sonoma a few years ago (www.williams-sonoma.com and www.wshome.com) Perfect size too.
I put two or three of the terrines on the buffet kitchen table and use clear glass expresso cups for soup servers - so the guests can scoop the soup into the cups and walk around while sipping the delicious soup. I find this is a very social -- and healthy and delicious - appetizer.
Celeste and I enjoyed a lively discussion about food possibilities. She knows how to work with a budget too :)
And she is most creative. For example, I had an idea for sweet potato "cupcakes."
Celeste and her chefs were able to deliver beyond expectations. The "cupcake" concept or "caper" :) was not a dessert but rather a side dish or vegetable -- Just a whole lot more interesting and elegant. Celeste and I talked about how we/she could do this. But in the end, she took the concept and as always -- just ran with it and achieved a culinary wonder!
We also agreed on a scallop and a crab meat creation with a roasted red pepper sauce.
I LOVE what she wrote and did with the salmon. Celeste suggested poached salmon and a Scotch salmon. Why, I asked. What is the difference between the two salmon??
It is the "look" she instructed me. She said there is an old saying that "The eyes eat before the stomach." She said it in a much more eloquent way.... But you get the idea. Celeste explained that the two different shades of pink in the salmon is glorious and visual.
It made me think the seduction of the glamorous salmon, as she explained it, was indeed perfect for us!
We then agreed on the more, ahem, mundane items, such as the salad with endive, and the cheese platte.
I love a goat, a brie, a stilton and especially this time of year, a cheddar.
Marquette also provides great baguettes for my cheese fondue that I love to serve at these kind of fetes. It's decadent (who eats cheese like this any more?); goes perfect with wine :) and from my school days and holidays in Switzerland, I embrace the social and convivial experience fondue offers.
I also added our caviar that is, in turn, a gift from our long time friends, the DiMasi's. They are truly amazing friends and parents ( more about that later). But I get to sing their praises every year with a select few family and friends, as we share the unbelievable good fortune of this spectacular treat.
And make no mistake. I LOVE caviar more than you can imagine.
Accordingly, we must offer great champagne to accompany the caviar.
And god forbid there is any left over - ha - we will carry over to the chocolate dessert. And this year - I went with the social fondue theme and we enjoyed chocolate fondue with strawberries and dried fruit, including apricots.
Thank you Celeste.
And my Tannins.
Glorious, glamorous, memorable evening.
And New York cleans up from Christmas faster than anyplace I know... Too soon...
Coming back into town after New Year's, I saw the trees on the curb for take away. So pretty.
But they must not realize there is a mulchfest every year the city provides to turn the trees into mulch...
Nevertheless, the trees still look beautiful to me as they await their next chapter: