Chow, Baby wants to par-tay. To dinner par-tay, to be exact, like in the movies, where beautiful people drink champagne and snag exotic cheese bites and hors d’oeuvres from trays held by passing waiters. However, since I live in a place about the size of a socialite’s walk-in closet, it didn’t seem likely … until some friends left town and roped me into house sitting. In a pretty big house. With a good kitchen. Great Gatsby, here we come. Expect your Evite any day now.
For my guests, I’ve decided to recreate some of my favorite classy dishes from local restaurants. I have a darling pair of chef pants and a toque — what could go wrong?
Every swanky get-together has a cheese plate. It’s in the manual. My favorite cheese and charcuterie plate, ever, is at Ellerbe Fine Foods (1501 W. Magnolia Ave.), but I’m finding it hard to duplicate, since Costco doesn’t carry the same artisan cheeses that Molly McCook serves. If Mr. Costco is reading this, I’m officially requesting that he stock the following items: the lusciously creamy St. Pierre, a golden-brown French goat cheese with speckles of gray-blue mold (the good kind); the Humboldt fog, textured with a little canal of ash separating the layers of morning and evening goat’s milk; and the Spanish manchego, a buttery sheep’s milk cheese. While we’re on the subject, also order some prosciutto. I’ll run down to Ellerbe’s myself and beg them to part with some of their house-marinated Cerignola olives. I must make one deviation from Ellerbe’s plate, however: no toast points. McCook uses flavorful garlic bread for hers, but like every other toast point ever toasted, it was way overcooked and useful only for slaying a vampire.
For the entrée, I want a wow factor, and nothing says old-school fancy like the chateaubriand ($75) with a tangy béarnaise sauce at Ray’s Prime Steak & Seafood (3206 Winthrop Ave.). Ray’s version is sliced and sauced tableside. I think I’ll have to skip that part — the creamy béarnaise would surely break if I were presenting it in front of an audience. I’d also like to try my hand at Ray’s light-as-a-cloud garlic and rosemary whipped potatoes. Rosemary usually makes me feel like I’m eating pine needles, but Ray’s kitchen found a good balance between the fragrant herb and the garlic on a recent dinner visit. The accompanying grilled asparagus was a little limp and light on flavor — I’ll try to do better.
Dessert is the most important course of any dinner party, since it’s the last impression my guests will have. I’m going for the gusto and will attempt a chocolate soufflé like they serve at Cacharel Restaurant & Grand Ballroom (2221 E. Lamar Blvd., Arl.). Infused with orange liqueur, the soft cake oozes rich, lava-like chocolate at the slightest touch of a spoon. The little buggers are notoriously temperamental (the soufflé, not the kitchen staff at Cacharel), but I’ll try and get mine to rise and stand at attention correctly (the dish, not my friends whom I’ll dragoon to act as waiters).
So many things to do: Clean the house, get the Chow, Puppies groomed, buy scented candles for the bathroom — and practice making all these dishes. And what to wear? Should I ditch the chef outfit and slip into something a little more chi-chi? What would James Bond do? Or Ann Romney? Soi-rée! Soi-rée!
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