Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fete a L'Orange

Our family dinner & party was a lot of fun yesterday, as well as delicious and colorful. My sister showed her photos of her recent trip to France & Germany, we caught up on everyone's news, and my family chowed down. Dinner as usual.

When thinking through menu possibilities, one thing jumped out: Orange!

For decor, I started with the French metis and linen sheets on the tables, then my favorite coral-topped Aidan Grey fragment sticks from Oma at Cargo & Company. I have gotten such use out of those sticks since I bought them last year; love them! All of the flowers and greens came from the garden: Stephanotis, ivy & juniper, piled up for volume against the fragment in the center of the table; a few sea urchin skeletons and bleached seashells plucked from the garden because my Dad loves seashells and they brought out the shades of green & grey:

The tables looked like this early in the afternoon. I set them up early, before the market, then made a few additions and occupied myself in the kitchen in the afternoon after the market:
Here you can see the coral-topped fragments better, and the pile of greens:
My friend Nick gave me a dozen spider lily plants about two years ago; they don't seem to mind neglect, and they are in bloom now with these wonderful long-fingered flowers, which stay fine without water, like the Stephanotis/Madagascar Jasmine:
I had the girls tie the napkins with jute cord, and we added a piece of fern to each one; I later retied all of the napkins a little tighter, to make a "dimple." Like a perfectly-tied man's tie, I think rolled napkins need a dimple.
We carried the flowers over onto the other tables, for appetizers and at the bar:

As always, the changing light later in the day plays with the silver and crystal. I use the same china (white Limoges with Greek Key or Gold Band), same silver, same vintage Baccarat and American crystal, and white napkins most of the time, and they are neutral enough to go with whatever I mix it up with:
here is one table, the sheets draped beautifully:
And the other, this is in the shade, but you can see the drape here too:
Later in the day I decided to throw some of Mom's clementines around; on the bar, in a topiary of fruits and toothpicks; the girls took all of these home at the end of the evening, to eat:
And sprinkled around on the tables; the orange really popped:
here you can see the little clementines and the "dimpled" napkins and the heap of greens at the centerpiece:
As evening grew dark, we added glass votives:
then started with appetizers, various cheeses, and the creamiest artichokes we have had in a long time; from Rancho Santa Fe Market; Jose sells these, we cooked them per his advice: stuff leaves with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, then steam til done; they were fantastic!
The girls helped me all day cooking, and they learned some basics like French Chantilly creme, how to truss a duck, how to sauce & prep. Our main course was Julia's Duck a l'Orange x2. Every time I make it everyone is in food filled with blanched orange rind, with a vaguely sweet & sour Port or Madeira sauce finished with Grand Marnier, and served with more orange rind and fresh orange pieces:
I would serve the sauce alone, over chicken breast, and I'm sure everyone would be in heaven. I get the ducks from 99 Ranch our local Chinese grocer; they come from LA and are fresh, $12 for a 5lb duck. What does it cost for Duck a l"Orange in a restaurant? More than the cost of the whole duck, I expect.

Roast ducks throw a lot of fat, and we used that for home-made potato chips, made from purple, red and white potatoes from Corona del Mar market; pat off the oil, dust with pepper and sea salt, and they are divine, though not lo-cal. I was right behind Nicole setting this plate down, but the hands were already moving in, top left:
Dessert was individual molten chocolate cakes with creme Chantilly and berries from Corona del Mar market, plated by the girls:
and Julia's chocolate souffle with creme Anglaise spiked with Grand Marnier (it was about orange, right?). It was super delish!
We had dinner until 11 then Mom & I stayed up late cleaning plates and silver. It was a fine affair!


  1. It's simply lovely ~ the table and decor is gorgeous. Your menu looks delicious! I need to try those artichokes.

    What a wonderful evening ~ a true gift!

    Wine and good food ~ we are going to have a great time together.

  2. Andrea, this looks wonderful! What a great time to spend with you family, everything so beautiful, I'm sure there was lots of love and laughter around your table. :)
    xo Lidy

  3. I am awestruck. Truly. You have such a gift.

  4. This is Stunning! And now I am starving, everything looks delish.
    This is one of the prettiest tables I have ever seen! You are GOOD! I had to go back 3 times and take in every perfect detail.
    Have a fabulous day!

  5. DIVINE... I want to dine like this!!!