Pairings

post no. 22

12 September 2013 0 comments

Curtis

Asa noticed it first. Our final meal of the spring, our twenty-second overall, was scheduled for June 22nd. Twenty-two on the twenty-second—that little jog of a coincidence gave us the inspiration to create a menu of pairings. One of the trickier parts of having these meals is creating a menu, and this conceit made for good brainstorming. We couldn’t riff on lots of traditional pairings—it was a vegetarian meal, so no pork and beans, or bacon and eggs, or meat and potatoes—but the concept was flexible enough to suggest many  possibilities.

We’d also been thinking for a while that it would be fitting to invite our CSA farmer, John Krueger,John to one of our Sharing the Table meals, since he grew so much of what we’ve served over the years, and this was a perfect opportunity. John’s season was well underway; we could use a lot of his late spring produce; and we had guests who were CSA members or who knew him from the Montclair farmer’s market.

It was a beautiful soft June evening, the second longest day of the year—the solstice took place on the 21st—and so we began the meal outside with a bite and the Tears of the Prophet cocktail. The company, the spirit, the food, a little music afterward—a perfect end to that season of meals.

Table, outside

Here is the menu:

“Soup n Sandwich” — Cold Beet Soup and Sage-Grilled Cheese Sandwich • Tears of the Prophet Cocktail

“Risi e Bisi” — Fresh Pea Risotto

“Wild and Cultivated” — Spring Greens Salad with Garden Fennel Fronds, Purslane, Serviceberries, Mulberries, and Nasturtium Flowers

“Garlic and Onions” — Rigatoni with Seven Lilies Sauce

“Hot and Cold” — Hot Fudge Sundae with Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream, and Smoked Almonds

This photo doesn’t do justice to the intense color of John’s beets, once turned into soup:

soup n sandwichOr the beautiful nasturtiums John grows to add to his salad mix:

SaladOne more item that didn’t make it on the menu—a delicious, floral sangria filled with apples and other goodness, brought by one of our guests, Amy:

Amy and JohnBy the way, serviceberries, aka Juneberries, come from a native American shrub called the amalanchier. It’s also known by about a dozen other names, including my favorite, shadbush, because it blooms when the shad start their run from the ocean upriver (which was a big deal where I grew up, on the Delaware). We have several in our yard, including one that’s been trained to grow as a tree, and once its berries ripen our spindly amalanchier is assaulted by birds, who pick it clean in a matter of days. It’s a curious thing to watch birds eat. They land, nervously, then peck at a fruit, and immediately fly away, even though there’s another fruit right next to it. Also, some of the branches are so delicate that even the weight of a bird bends them precipitously, so the birds are forced to snatch the fruit while in the air.

Our charity that night was Toni’s Kitchen. Here are a few more photos, with even more, as usual, on my Flickr page.

Grace and Kevin outside

 

whole table laughing, my pov

 

Emily

 

Elise and table laughing

 

Riddy, looking upAmy and Charles etc singing

heart-shaped rocks

 

 

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For Peter

post no. 21

7 September 2013 1 comment

Sharing the Table 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Workman died this spring. I worked for him and with him for nearly twenty-five years. He was brilliant, generous, difficult, loyal, entrepreneurial, visionary, and on and on. An amazing person. He was also an inspiration for Sharing the Table. He embodied the spirit of charity—he was a true giver. And, he loved to eat and drink. Once we figured out this idea of having dinner parties for charity, I couldn’t wait to tell Peter about it. It took a while to get him out here, but when he did join us, he arrived with all of his grace, humor, and curiosity. He really knew how to embrace the moment.

One of Peter’s favorite charities was the Goddard-Riverside Community Center on Manhattan’s upper west side. After his death, we had the idea to have our next dinner in honor of Peter, invite people from Workman Publishing, and have the money go to Goddard. It took place on May 18, and it was a lively, lovely evening. Here’s our menu, designed for a group that included a vegetarian and a guest or two who don’t eat red meat. The dessert—aptly nicknamed “crack pie”—was courtesy of Peter’s daughter, Katie, a great cook, writer, food blogger, and—clearly—a genius at coming up with simple, incredibly tasty recipes.

Chicken Liver Crostini • Fava Bean and Pecorino Crostini • Tears of the Prophet Cocktail

Poached Egg over Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto with Lemon Butter and Bread Crumbs

Seafood Sicilian Lifeguard Style, over Israeli Couscous • Ratatouille with Mushrooms, over Israeli Couscous

Katie’s “Crack Pie” with Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar

Cooking highlight of the dinner: serving fourteen beautifully poached eggs. The secret: poaching them the day before, with no pressure, then reheating in hot water—thank you, Thomas Keller:

Sharing the Table 21The seafood dish came courtesy of Mario Batali. It’s a mainstay of the Babbo menu, and included in the cookbook:Sharing the Table 21

One thing we fell short on was taking pictures, but there are a few:

Sharing the Table 21

 

Sharing the Table 21

Sharing the Table 21

Sharing the Table 21

Sharing the Table 21

Sharing the Table 21

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Eating for Renaissance

June 16, 2013

We pay an unseemly amount of property tax for the privilege of living in Montclair and being able to send three kids to the public schools. Yet those schools still need help, and every family’s calendar is marked with auctions, bake sales, toasts-for-the-teacher, and more. A few years ago during one of our kid’s school’s […]

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Ode to Franny’s

June 10, 2013

A good recipe is a little bit like a good poem—the inspired arrangement of the familiar (words, ingredients) to produce pleasure and surprise. The effects, when they work, are subtle, unexpected. The experience is nourishing, but fleeting, something you want to share with others though it’s probably not going to change your life. But if […]

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What Is It About Ice Cream?

April 29, 2013

Picture above, staged and ready to go, part of a dozen “One Night in Bangkok” Sundaes, the overall idea and recipes courtesy of our dessert secret weapon, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. The ice cream—spicy, salty, sweet Bangkok Peanut. The sauce, praline. The base, a ripe banana. The topping, fresh whipped cream. And the garnish—more salty […]

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Sweet Seventeen

February 17, 2013

Our seventeenth dinner. Seventeen! A lot of menus, a lot of planning. Especially for this group of guests, more than half of whom were repeats…four of them multiple repeats, in fact. So the challenge of 17 was how to keep it fresh. Foodwise, Sharing the Table is the opposite of a restaurant with its core […]

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Sharing the Table, Sharing the Music

December 16, 2012

Our last charity dinner of 2012 came on an auspicious date, December 8th: It’s the date of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, honoring the Catholic dogma that from the moment Mary was conceived, she was free of original sin. It’s also Bodhi Day, celebrated by Buddhists as the traditional date of the Buddha’s enlightenment. […]

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Sharing the Table – “Veg au Vin”

November 23, 2012

Our third vegetarian dinner. Like the previous two, it forces a different way of thinking. How to satisfy the carnivores? How to surprise the vegetarians? Will there be enough food? And as in the previous two, we added an extra course, drew more on seasonality, thought a little harder about the progression of tastes, worked […]

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It Starts with Pissaladiere (Sharing the Table XIV)

October 21, 2012

The story of this meal is about being hungover, still, from Truro. For example, we’d met a friend and his family for a day at the beach, then returned to our house. Earlier that day I’d picked about a dozen stout leaves of Tuscan kale from the garden planted by Kalu, the sherpa working on […]

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Sharing the Table XIII

October 2, 2012

Months passed between this dinner and our previous Sharing the Table. For the second year in a row we had to cancel our June meal; in 2011 a flash flood knocked us out (let’s say it started by killing our water heater), and this year, family illness. And so we had a four month layoff. […]

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