This week I turn old. To be clear I don’t actually feel old but I am certainly now at an age that my kids would consider old. As the landmark approached the question became how to mark it. For better and worse there really aren’t too many options for me so after some wrangling it was decided that we would throw a dinner party and cook some food that was a bit over the top and drink some wine we wouldn’t normally drink.
At first I combed through my fancy cookbooks picking out fancy recipes from The French Laundry, 11 Madison Park, et al. I compiled an impressive menu but something didn’t feel right. After a while I realized that the problem was I didn’t just want to cook other people’s food. I came up with a plan to take favorite dishes that I’ve made or experienced and refine them in my own way. Every course would relate to a food memory of some importance and so the planning began.
I wanted to cook a multi-course deal at as high a level as I could which meant that all of the logistics had to be taken into account during the planning. I would need to be able to finish each course quickly enough that the “crowd” wouldn’t get restless while I worked. I used turning old as an excuse to get two cooking devices that would help me pull it off: a vacuum chamber and a sous vide.
I spent the weekend before the event cooking a bunch of stocks as well as effectively completing one of the courses that could be frozen (ravioli above). Then on Wednesday the preparations began in earnest with me grabbing moments to cook and prep before and after work. I then put a full day of prep in Saturday culminating in a Blumenthal ice cream experiment (photo above) at around midnight.
Sunday was another day of cooking and finishing the house prep. One of our dearest friends came over to lend a hand doing whatever needed to be done and proved to be quite indispensable. I also decided to bake some rolls and make a second ice cream with spectators since I had a bit of “extra” time. Then the table was set. The cooking schedule was posted so I wouldn’t forget any steps as I tried to work a course ahead and the guests arrived…