Sunday, August 19, 2012

One Heckuva

The Farm to Table Feast was over and my house guests were ensconced in their quarters.  I went back outside, some of the votives still lit, the fish pond fountain still bubbling, a beautiful clear night sky above, and plopped my exhausted self down in the big quilty chair which had been used by our musicians.  It was already well after midnight, and it had been a grand evening, and I was really tired but not yet ready to sleep.  


Suddenly, I had an idea….and I slipped off through the pool gate and had a little skinny dip in the pool.  Ahhh that’s just what I needed after a crazy week and a night spent mostly slaving in the kitchen!  After all, I knew that in the morning I would face this, my version of a scullery station, as I prepared to wash 120 dishes + glasses + utensils~


Mom and I usually sit outside the morning after a party like this and debrief about who we talked to and the news and feedback.  Today, she was chattering away about how wonderful each of the guests were, that she thought the music was amazing, and that she sat in this same seat last night with three of the bachelor men around her, including our neighbor Jay.  Many thanks to you guys, you kept her smiling and laughing all night…she had a ball, and she needed a little fun.  You can see her casted right arm here and how black and blue her exposed shoulder is.  Still mad that she fell and that she could not help with the party or clean up.  It’s OK Mom….


I saved two of the wrapped gifts to open this morning with her; LOVE both of these, the book and the bottle, which will figure into a vignette soon~


Saturday before the party we worked on the setup.  And when I saw “we” I mean BIG thanks to Della and Laura & team.  I missed the bar that is out for powdercoat, as it has space below for glasses, but this worked fine.  There was rosemary from the garden in each of the ice buckets to prevent too much clinking of glass and provide some fragrance~


There was a single long table under the loggia which sat most of the guests.  The French-style folding chairs left early this morning with Raquel to go back to the farmers market.  Mom said a few guests asked her who is the caterer and where was she able to rent all these linens and plates and crates and props?   Everyone loved the lap napkins; they were a real hit, especially with the guys.


Next to the main table, I set my pine desk, and piled crates on top with little vignettes in each cubby.  Copper, votives, vintage cooking, birds nests holding Araucana eggs, and a trio of silver teapots which would be used after dinner for the tisane.  The desk surface was used to show the wine bottles guests had brought before they moved to the dinner table, and during dinner we put all of the desserts into the nooks, and when the meal was over the desserts moved to the pine desk below. This is the “aftermath” photo this morning~


It was quite a mess, but I loved the look and will do this again somewhere~


with the votives lit, it looked something like this as we began dessert…love love love the glow of the votives and the warmth of the wooden crates~


I think I took a total of 10 photos last night; too busy cooking and talking to guests and worrying about how to keep the meal on schedule.  Though I told everyone, I would stress but your meal is free, so I’m not going to worry.  It was tough to get the five chickens and prime rib done at the same time.  Next time, a few adjustments, but it was all OK and delish in the end.  Today I enjoyed the view of the tables in the early morning sun~


I also had nothing alcoholic to drink last night, and this morning finished off the last half glass of Foley Pinot Noir from Mark & Leticia with my breakfast, still wonderful the morning after.  There were no flowers on the tables, only a long runner of trumpet vines from the garden, which you see here and I thought was perfect; this event was all about the food and the wine~


I also did not sit for dinner and did not eat any of the food aside from a few tastes as it was prepared.  Today for lunch I had the Burrata plate just like we made it last night: slice of tomato, slice of peach, wedge of cold burrata; finish with basil chiffonade, a little sea salt, pepper, balsalmic and olive oil.  Loved this, as did all the guests~


Of the few photos I took, here is the appetizer, just one of the trays of Bruschetta…many thanks to Julia for serving these~


While the appetizers were tray passed, the guests listened to the musicians, and we prepared the Burrata plates in the dining room; the plates went to the place settings at one time, as the guests were asked to be seated.  I have dropped my camera yet again, so it is buggered and this is out of focus; maybe that’s the real reason why I took so few pics~


Next up was the pasta, Pappardelle with seasonal mushrooms and fresh butter; I can’t get enough of this pasta, from Domenico’s (call the Beverly Hills Cheese Store), and every single scrap of it was eaten, several platters full~


I had meant to show you the menu before the party, but here it is now, with the origin of each ingredient~


Louie’s Artisan Bread Country Loaf
Valdivia Beefsteak Tomatoes
Berumen Boyz Fresh Garlic

Spring Hill Cheddar on Louie’s Artisan Bread
With Max’s Buckwheat Honey & Sundial Hydroponic Basil

Fresh Gioia Burrata

Sunny Cal Roasted Peaches
Valdivia Heirloom Tomatoes
Sundial Hydroponic Basil
Temecula Olive Oil Company Olive Oil

Domenico’s Pappardelle

Mountain Meadow Seasonal Mushrooms
Spring Hill Organic Butter

DaLe Ranch Pastured Beef Prime Rib

DaLe Ranch Roast Chickens

Garden Salad

Sundial Farms Hydroponic Butter Lettuce
Valdivia Heirloom Tomatoes & Green Beans
Sage Mountain Candy Cane Beets
Dill & Chives from the Garden

Homemade On the Dessert Table

Puff Pastry Galette with Sunny Cal Peaches
Black Onyx Chocolate Mousse with Eben Haezer Pastured Eggs
Scratch Coconut Cake
White Cake with Kahlua & Homemade Apricot Jam
French Chocolate Tarte
Whipped Cream with Keys Creek Lavender-infused Honey
Warm Passion Fruit Caramel Sauce
Fresh Sunny Cal Peaches & Berumen Boyz Strawberries
Lemon Tarte with Atkins Nursery Lemons & Don’s Farm Eggs
Cheesecake with Soledad Fresh Goat Cheese
Cheesecake with Soledad Fresh Lavender-Lemon Goat Cheese
Millie’s Creamy Passion Fruit Handcrafted Vegan Gelato
Millie’s Chocolate Sea Salt Handcrafted Vegan Gelato

Herbal Tisane & Coffee

If you follow my blog you know that I hate a rushed meal.  My family would have blown through all this food in about an hour; maybe just a little more. We started about 6pm with appetizers and ended serving dessert after 9pm.  Guests ate dessert and had coffee and tisane until about 10:30, and the last guests left after 11pm.  It took a crew of us in the kitchen some time to get each of these courses out and to give the guests time to savour each one.  No one seemed to complain… there was music, great conversation, there was wine; Louie our boulanger was on hand and gave a talk about the amazing bread he made for the meal…..and I think the food was allowed to digest a little between each course.  Everyone left feeling sated but not stuffed, and knowing they had eaten a quality meal.

Louie’s friend Sam is a pro photographer and he came along for the evening and took tons of photos, which he promises to send to me, as will a few other guests.  Will show you those when they arrive, hopefully shortly!  All in all, totally fun and a great evening; I have made a few notes for things to improve, but I’m going to call it a success, and with no rentals and great farmer & musician friends, it didn’t break the bank.   And no, the gates did not arrive….I just put votives on each step of the brick walk and no one missed the gates and they called it fairytale….  And yes, my Dad did come to the party, and though he didn’t really like the music (too loud for him), he did see some old friends and loved the prime rib bone I cut for him.


  1. I simply could not say enough about How fabulous the entire evening was. It was quite special and we feel lucky to have been there. The food just blew me away - the best desserts I've ever had (and I've certainly had more than my fair share). The setting - perfection and the people lovely. You are so talented. We feel fortunate indeed. Thank you doesn't seem enough.

    Jeanette and Bill

  2. Dear Andrea, when I read your blog it is a ditto of my life with my Mom and Dad when they were still alive! Uncanny! My sister has a small catering business which she quite accidentally fell into after leaving corporate banking....your photos and descriptions here could be the two of us! When Mom was alive, she always helped prep and came to every function.....the doyenne, making sure her girls got it right! To this day my memories of those catered affairs elevate my spirit and those that were present. Thank you for this very lovely post....I can almost smell and taste the deliciousness! And of course we never ate a bite either, except to taste prior to presentation! N.xo

  3. Hello Andrea,
    It's early morning in Paris as I read your post...
    I discovered your blog a few days ago and I must admit I'm totally seduced by the tone, the nice things, the linens etc.
    I just wanted to tell you BRAVO !!! for every little (and big) thing you've done to please your guests. This seems for me even better as a Party at the Larraby's... the candles, the attention to details, the musicians... you are "enchanteresse" and I don't know you yet but you're as classy as Audrey Hepburn in my mind.
    This is it. I will continue to follow you and maybe have the courage sometimes to write a little comment in english, hoping you'll smile and pardon me.
    BON COURAGE for the work you are probably doing just now (I can imagine you whistling something like the air of the dwarfs in Walt Disney's Snow White... In french it is "siffler en travaillant...").
    Have a nice day and many thoughts to your mum.
    Bisous from Paris

  4. Andrea,

    Thank you again for a wonderful evening. Everything was exceptional. It was so nice to meet everyone and you! I am sorry we closed the place down, we should have helped with the dishes....

    All the best,

  5. Wish I could have been there... you definitely should put together a book of your Martha's first book...You do have a talent for it. I might copy your menu (or part of it) for my next French Club Dinner... Yesterday it was 95 in Beaune. We had lunch in the country at LaGauraudie(?) in Levernois..and skipped dinner. We have just four weeks left of another wonderful French to Brittany on Sunday...READ MY EMAILS...please. Found some interesting copies antique maps & pictures of Beaune from the Library on place Monge...Shall I get you some???

  6. Oh my Gosh! That was some big achievement.
    What a menu, and I am wishing I had been there.
    Every thing you do, you give 100%. Beautiful.
    Now Rest up.


  7. Ah Andrea... this sounds like a fairy tale of an evening... such energy! I am exhausted just reading the wonderful menu!
    What a memory you have created for your friends!

  8. Hi Andrea
    What a hostess! I am so inspired by your thoughtful attention to detail, the dessert table idea is an incredible WOW! Well done for throwing such a fabulous party!
    So happy to have found your blog:-)
    Fiona xx

  9. Andrea, I am so glad your party went off. From the sound of it the evening was perfect, weather, food and company! Good for you!! Your efforts are noted and details are noticed, great job!!! Take a nap...

  10. Andrea dear I am so thrilled to see some of the images from your fabulous event. Enchanting in every way with the special presentations, the use of farm fresh foods, the deserts in the crated ensemble display with so much mood lighting. Music adds so much to the experience. I look forward to more pics, especially of the famous deserts!

    Again I am so sorry to have had to send regrets to the dinner party of the season!

    Art by Karena
    2012 Artists Series Featuring Harrison Howard

  11. Hi Andrea, Just discovered your blog and so love it. Your dinner parties sound like mine, no detail too small for our guests. I also, know how much work goes into a dinner like this, so cheers to you. Beautiful!

  12. Hi Andrea,
    I just popped over from another blog and I've been sucked in!! I'll be working my way through many more (if not all) of your older posts in the days to come. For now I just wanted to say, when I grow up I want to have a party like yours. (sadly, I'm 45 and some would say I'm grown up already). Time to get on the planning!!

    So nice to find your blog!

  13. what a lovely party and your photos are great! the wing chair is fabulous and chuckled over your skinny dip...well done!

  14. Oh gosh..... I MISSED A REAL PARTY!!!!

  15. Good morning,

    In today's blog you mentioned that your friend cured her breast cancer with Ashitaba. Are you able to tell me what you mean by "cure." Is this all your friend used? Did she have any medical treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy? I am most curious.

    Thank you.