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Good Friends, Good Food

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  The week of extravagant dinner parties.        You know how they say that it pays to have friends in high places? Well, it doesn’t get any better than being invited over to dinner at a home that just happens to be owned by a former chef who is best friends with a former […]

July 30, 2007


 
The week of extravagant dinner parties.
 

     You know how they say that it pays to have friends in high places? Well, it doesn’t get any better than being invited over to dinner at a home that just happens to be owned by a former chef who is best friends with a former chef and oh, yeah—they are both heads of Chaine des Rotisseurs. For those not too familiar with this acclaimed group of gourmands, let’s just say that what Harry Potter is to book sales, they are to the culinary world of high standards. So no wonder we started with Beluga caviar and smoked salmon that led into a fabulous pasta dish from Lenny’s Italian Momma’s Kitchen—a light but extremely flavorful dish of al dente pasta with the most addictive leek sauce I have ever licked the bowl after. Follow that with Larry’s absolutely perfectly grilled veal chops with porcini mushrooms and a hint of truffle, plus a tease of fabulous cheeses and port that will be available in November at C’est Cheese (more on that later). The wines—well, I can’t even begin to describe that level of holiness—but let’s just say that we finished with espresso and Louis XIII cognac and (now these are some good friends) they wouldn’t even let me wash the dishes.

 

Balliage masters Larry and Lenny cook up extravagent cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere for this lucky food writer.

 

     On a much lighter note,  a few days later I gathered the great editors in my life for a small dinner party while I had the house for a week without testosterone (we won’t count Chester the greyhound), as Paul and Eric were on their annual father/son trip. Trust me, I can cook, but I am not Martha Stewart when it comes to setting the table. I keep things light and simple, as I’m always focused on exorbitant amounts of food being prepared all at once (Jewish Mother Syndrome). A simple yet fun table setting is to place a favorite pantry item of yours at each place setting for your guests to take home. Each setting was different; from Alessi roasted yellow peppers to Kozlowski blackberry chipotle glaze, my wonderful dinner guests seemed to truly enjoy their pantry goodies, and I shared a few tips about using each one.

(Take a peek at these sites for more: www.chaine-des-rotisseurs.net (Larry Krams Bailliage); www.cestcheese.net)

 

Marsha Fottler, Susan Burns and Kay Kipling help themselves to our
editor’s spread.

 

Simple dishes like sliced sirloin steak, bruschetta-style, make for a flavorful spread when entertaining buffet-style.

 

   I certainly meant no harm when I questioned why Lobster on Main had only one lobster dish, but apparently I wasn’t the only one—they already closed. It looks like a long season ahead, as Bamboo on Cooper Creek Boulevard has closed as well and I have yet to see a diner in Lan, the new but obscure restaurant on Main Street that tells me nothing from their white awning. Hmm…could it be another “I love to eat so I thought I’d open a restaurant?” Will we be seeing a “For Rent” sign soon?

 
Do you have some creative ideas for dinner parties? E-mail me at judig@sarasotamagazine.com . Don’t forget our new section on the Web site—send your culinary and restaurant questions to "Ask Chef Judi" on www.sarasotamagazine.com.








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