L’art Pour L’art
In early August we presented our fourth dinner, L’art Pour L’art. We were very excited to feature guest pastry chef, Steven Ciccone, and very lucky to have professional photographer, Gustavo Fernandez, taking pictures for us. Each of them generously donated their time and talents to the event. This was obviously an art themed meal and gave us yet another opportunity for some creative fun.
For this dinner, we decided to try something different and started a bit earlier in the evening, so that we could offer a cocktail hour before the meal. We felt that this was an opportunity for all of the guests to mingle and get to know one another, and a chance for us to throw some more food into the mix. We also figured that since this was an art themed meal, it would be a shame if we didn’t offer a little bit of interactive art play for our guests. So while the guests drank their champagne and met each other, they also each got the chance to decorate their own chocolate bars. They didn’t know exactly what they were doing, they were just instructed to use the different colors of “paint” (colored chocolate) to decorate one of the rectangular molds and told that they would find out what it was all about at the end of the dinner. They all seemed to have a lot of fun with this!
While our guests played and imbibed, we passed around two hors d’oeuvres for their grazing pleasure. The first was a tray of bite sized reuben sandwiches that we added bacon and sauteed apples to, and called them Francis Bacon-Billy Apple-Peter Paul Rubens. The second, was called A Surrealist Homage To Dali’s Still Life: Watermelon (which was one of Dali’s early cubist paintings, and we thought it fitting to throw in a surrealist twist.) For these we hollowed out Green Zebra tomatoes (small, golf ball sized, tart-acidic tomatoes) and filled them with a gazpacho gelee- a gazpacho that had been firmed up using gelatin (we intentionally used a Spanish dish to honor Dali’s heritage.) They were topped with black sesame seeds that looked just like tiny watermelon seeds.
After the cocktail hour, we invited the guests to be seated, so that we could begin the meal. Here is the menu:
Dinner began with an amuse bouche that we called Jackson Pollock Cakes. These were tiny pollock and crab cakes served on a Pollock-esque sauce splattered plate. The sauces were beet puree, balsamic reduction and chive oil.
The next course was the soup, called Picasso’s Yellow Period, and as you can see, everything in the bowl was a different hue of yellow. This featured a chilled corn soup with a variety of garnishes including pickled mustard seeds, bell peppers, golden beets, freeze dried corn, zucchini threads, preserved lemon, wax beans, yellow chives and turmeric oil. The guests were served the bowl with the garnishes first, and then each given their own small pitcher of soup to pour over.
Our next course was called Pop Art Pop Tart. This was a fig and bacon pop tart cut into a classic, pop art caption bubble shape. It was topped with a piece of thin goat cheese that we painted the word “pop” onto with food coloring, and then sprinkled it with colored salt, to make it look like the colored sugar found on top of store bought pop tarts. The sauce was a puree of oil cured olives and arugula. The background for the plates was achieved by using egg tempera , an egg yolk-food coloring based medium that we then air brushed onto each plate using a dotted template for precise uniformity.
The entree was our take on a still life painting called Still Life With Chicken. We created the base, or baskets, with fillo dough,
and placed one on each plate. The baskets were then filled with buttermilk potato puree, edamame succotash, sliced chicken breast and a rosemary infused peach compote. The dish was topped off with toasted pecans and an assortment of fresh greens, herbs, flowers and champagne grapes.
Our guest pastry chef, Steven Ciccone, took over for the dessert course. He called this The Flavors of Anthony Benedetto’s Golden Gate Bridge and it was a tribute to a painting done by Tony Bennett (aka, Anthony Benedetto.) This was a warm chocolate ganache filled eclair with a baked-on macaron topping, whipped cream and macerated blueberries. It was served with mango sorbet atop raspberry coulis and garnished with some crispy, sparkly chocolate and an edible mini-version of the painting to which the dessert was paying homage.
At the end of the meal, the guests were treated to giant, dark chocolate dipped strawberries.
Then, as they departed, each guest was instructed to grab their chocolate creations, which had magically been turned into beautiful, unique chocolate bars
that were packaged and labeled, so that everybody could find their own creation.
The dinner received rave reviews from guests and art critics alike.