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This is the fourth of arielleclementine's Big Feast posts. Read about her blueprint for the Science! themed feast, all about powdering olive oil (and bacon fat!), and her adventures in spherification.
(Me, in the thick of party preparations, the night before the big feast.)
A week or so before the party, I made a to-do list of everything that would need to be done in the 48 hours leading up to the party. Absolutely everything that could be done in advance was scheduled for Friday, and the last minute stuff was listed in the order it should be done on the day of. But now that it was actually time to start cooking, I was nervous. My normal MO for dinner parties is to serve dishes that I've made before -- many times if possible -- to make sure that I really like what I'm about to serve, and to help me feel more confident that I won't mess it up. For this party, I had only made two of the seven courses before: the herbed beef skewers, and the chocolate cake, figuring that even if things go horribly, we'd still be able to eat steak skewers and a lot of cake! I just had to keep reminding myself that, for this party especially, the whole point was to serve new and surprising dishes, and if they weren't quite what I was expecting, then we'd at least had a fun time trying them. I adopted this as my mantra.
As we actually began to cook, there was so much to do that I sort of forgot my nerves. I kept my head down, tackling one task at a time, and using the strikethrough command on my to-do list when I had finished a job (so satisfying!). My sister Helen, my best friend Molly, and my husband Andy were all instrumental in the process. Molly helped cook and took care of all of the decorations (and had to tell the birthday boy Dustin an increasingly elaborate lie to explain her near two-day absence), Helen took hundreds of pictures of the preparations, and Andy was left to entertain baby Henry. But after many hours, we got it done! Here's how it played out:
Friday (The Night Before the Party):
Filling the petri dishes with the blood orange gelée.
Molly baked the cake while I worked on the decorations. We had originally planned to make a complete periodic table cake, but that's 118 tiles, folks. Instead, and to make it more birthday-y, we spelled out
H Ar P Y B I Rf Dy Ds Sn
(Sn = Tin!, perfect for Dustin!)
Molly makes approximately one million platonic solids from folded cardstock for decorations. Time to get some sleep!
Stay tuned tomorrow for the full report on the day of Arielle's Big Feast!
Le Creuset has generously offered to reward our Big Feasters for all their hard work, and as our first Big Feast, Arielle will win, in the color of her choice (flame, cherry, fennel, or cassis): a 4 1/2-quart round French oven, a 10 1/4-inch iron handle skillet, and a 2 3/4-quart precision pour pan. Pitch us your Big Feast at [email protected] for a chance to win $500 in Le Creuset booty.
Inspired to play with molecular gastronomy at home? Check out a very cool Molecular Gastronomy kit from Molecule-R, available in the shop now!