BY CARLA RUBEN PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARILI FORASTIERI | June 1, 2009 | Food & Drink
The Sky Room at the New Museum is a perfect room with a view of downtown Manhattan.
As far as I'm concerned, every party is a surprise party. That’s what I love about my business: No matter what kind of affair I plan, I’m always dreaming up ways to introduce an element of the unexpected, from location and décor to food. And an early-summer bash provides many opportunities for out-of-the-box thinking. Consider the word “entertaining.” When you host a party, you’re inviting guests to be entertained—by you. They’re your audience, and like a great actor, a great host knows how to turn his or her singular sensibilities into an unforgettable experience for an audience. Never forget that every choice you make should reflect your personality, and that every choice counts.
PASSED HORS D’OEUVRES
Scottish smoked salmon, chive crêpes and crème fraîche
Apple tart filled with foie gras terrine and caramel
Yellowtail ceviche in anise-seed cones
Five-mushroom-ragout tartlet with truffled crème fraîche
Artichoke fondue in oregano-pistachio puffs
Filet mignon bruschetta with red-wine mayonnaise and shallot rings
Parmesan pudding on roasted-tomato crackers
Chicken summer roll of curried vermicelli and Vietnamese basil in rice paper
Chilled English pea soup with basil sorbet and pea shoots
Lobster-filled filet of beef, smoked drawn butter, twice-baked fingerling potatoes and chives, and charred asparagus
AMUSE OF SWEETS
Chocolate soda and passion fruit soda shooters
Toasted-almond panna cotta
Coconut tapioca with passion fruit gelée and caramel puffed rice
Mini vanilla cupcakes with coconut frosting
Mini chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting
Whiskey pineapple with crème fraîche
Cherry mousse with macerated cherries
Chocolate-rosemary ganache financier
Assorted petits fours
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Whiskey pineapple with crème fraîche and cherry mousse with macerated cherries; mini vanilla cupcakes with coconut frosting and mini chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting; lobster-filled filet of beef on charred asparagus with smoked drawn butter and twice-baked fingerling potatoes
When choosing a location, remember that it can be fun to bring guests someplace they’ve never been before—a new part of town or a new space. But even if you’re throwing a party at home, you can make the setting feel new by designing for contrast. If you’re entertaining at a downtown loft, use tables and serving stations to create a flow of intimate spaces. Or warm things up with color: I like soft gray as an anchor, accented with yellows.
When it comes to food, it’s tempting to go a little crazy. I can’t tell you how many parties I’ve attended where each dish seems overthought and a touch tortured. Take food seriously. Bob Spiegel, my business partner, is a highly respected chef who is passionate about the food he prepares. He’s traveled the world in search of the best cuisines, techniques and ingredients.
“I love local, seasonal ingredients,” he says. “Fiddlehead ferns, ramps, fava beans, savory herbs for flavoring.” (He’s also a fan of using herbs to spice cocktails, so please, think past pink drinks!) For a gorgeous start, offer a plate of simply grilled veggies. “Seasonal produce like chive asparagus and cranberry fingerlings puts a ton of color on the plate,” he explains.
Food isn’t just what you’re giving your guests to eat. The way each course is served dictates how people interact, and the food becomes part of the atmosphere. Give guests time up front to intersperse and mingle, but give them a proper sit-down dinner, too. Let small talk turn to real conversation. When people are in one room for a night, tempo changes are important.
Dessert is an opportunity to switch up the pace, and a dessert bar is a perfect way to do just that. Think creatively—dessert presentation can be a conversation-starter and an excuse for guests to get back on their feet after dinner. The energy comes up instantly. And what better way to end things than on a high note?
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Passion fruit soda shooters; filet mignon bruschetta with red-wine mayonnaise and shallot rings; yellowtail ceviche in anise-seed cones; Bob Spiegel and Carla Ruben of Creative Edge Parties.
FILET MIGNON BRUSCHETTA WITH RED-WINE MAYONNAISE AND SHALLOT RINGS
Poached Beef Filet and Shallot Rings
2-pound filet of beef, center-cut
Gray sea salt (or kosher salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
5 large shallots, sliced into 1⁄8-inch rings
2 cups corn oil
Cut beef into 11/2-inch logs. Liberally salt and pepper meat. Place in a plastic bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. (Scotch tape can be used to secure ends.) Repeat the procedure with another bag to create a double seal. Heat a pot of water to 130 degrees (use a meat thermometer). Place bags in water and poach for 15–20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat corn oil to 350 degrees and fry the shallot rings until brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and cool on a plate lined with paper towels.
1 ficelle, sliced into thin rounds
2 garlic cloves, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toast fi
celle rounds on a cookie sheet for approximately five minutes. Rub each toast round with garlic, then brush with olive oil and season with salt.
1 bottle Zinfandel or other full-bodied, fruity red wine
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups olive oil (not extra-virgin)
Put red wine in saucepan and boil at high heat until it has been reduced to a syrup. Be careful not to burn. Allow to cool slightly. In a food processor, combine the wine reduction, egg yolks, mustard, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and salt. With mixer running, add oil in a thin steady stream until the mixture emulsifi es. Transfer to a squeeze bottle.
Pull bags of meat out of water, unwrap, and cut filet into 1-inch slices. Pat meat dry and put one slice on each toast round. Liberally squeeze red-wine mayonnaise on top of beef. Garnish with one or two fried shallot rings.
YELLOWTAIL CEVICHE IN ANISE-SEED CONES
1-pound sushi-grade yellowtail, white meat only
2 teaspoons gray sea salt (or kosher salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 shallot, diced fine
3 shiso leaves, cut fine (chives can be used as a substitute)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest from 1 lime
Roughly chop the yellowtail until pieces are the size of cooked rice grains. Mix in salt, pepper, lime juice, shallot, shiso and olive oil. Set aside.
2 teaspoons anise seed
11/2 cups granulated sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 oranges, juiced
Scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with Silpats (silicon nonstick mats). Combine all ingredients and stir well until dough is thick and sticky. Chill for 30 minutes. (Keep dough cold while filling baking sheets.) Use a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip to pipe 1-inch drops of dough onto baking sheets or a melon baller to make balls of approximately 3/4 teaspoon each. Place at least 2 to 3 inches apart, as dough will spread considerably in the oven. Bake four to five minutes in preheated oven until cones begin to caramelize, rotating sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Dough will continue to brown after removal from oven. While dough rounds are still warm and pliable, remove them from baking sheets with a metal spatula and roll each around the base of a cone-shaped Dixie cup. Set cones aside to cool.
Fill cones with yellowtail mixture. Garnish with lime zest and serve immediately.
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
A few of Creative Edge Parties’ favorite things.
Tía Pol (205 10th Avenue, 212-675-8805)
Best Lamb Shank
Kif (219 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-852-7273)
Best Organic Fare
Union Square Greenmarket (East 17th Street and Broadway)
The Lobster Place (Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue, 212-255-5672)
Best Wine Shops
Astor Wines & Spirits (399 Lafayette Street, 212-674-7500)
Le Dû’s Wines (600 Washington Street, 212-924-6999)
Best Tabletop Wares
The Future Perfect (115 North Sixth Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-6278)
Global Table (107 Sullivan Street, 212-431-5839)
Best Catering Space
New Museum (235 Bowery, 212-219-1222)