Monday, July 16, 2007

Hidden Kitchens

This is a great story from Chocolate & Zucchini about Hidden Kitchens. There is something innately human about the whole thing. The sense of giving, the risk, the humility. My wife and some friends once had a 'hidden' dinner. We used an Art Center that once was the summer home of the Ticonderoga family (the pencil people). A beatiful old building still with wood covered walls and massive staircases built to move grand piano around, back when people move grand pianos around their houses.

We split the menu up, since it was my idea I made a main. Half a Pheasant stuffed with Quince and wrapped in Pancetta, and a appetizer/palate cleanser, a grilled fresh pineapple slice. Trying to get a charcoal grill going while cooking 7 birds was bit of a challange. There were 5 courses and our friend the magazine editor (and home baker) did all the desserts. My wife made a pate piped onto a plate and covered with shitake mushroom caps (the pate being the stem). And a chestnut soup made from scratch. We in invited some close friends, maybe 10 people. My brother in law made a seafood risotto that was amazingly light for having soaked up so much stock. A teenaged friend made filet mignon with a red wine sauce, he later became a chef at one the top 10 restaurants in the Philadelphia area, he was 15 at the time.

We all cooked our recipes before the Fall Feast itself, I highly reccommend this step if you think about doing this. I once had a New Years eve dinner which was a disaster because I was not familiar with the dish I was cooking. This was so much fun, from start to finish, the ordering, the tracking down of Quince, etc, the shopping, the prep., the cooking, the smells! Everyones tension ratcheting while getting their dish ready for the table on time. The guests clapping for us when we came out to enjoy coffee and desserts with them. Anybody else ever done something like this, bit off more than you could chew and pulled it off?