While the cold winter weather and too many sugar cookies may have some of you in hibernation mode, The Dinner Belle has been burning up calories, adding many new and exciting logs to our growing fire this snowy season.
Kimberly and I were both fortunate to spend our New Year’s celebrations in Vermont, albeit at different ski chalets, where she cooked up a storm, slicing and dicing in the kitchen, while I practiced my “shredding” on the mountain. It was a wonderfully reflective time to look back on what we’ve accomplished over the course of this past season, and a prime environment to glance ahead to all we have to look forward to in 2010.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. When last you left us, leaves were falling and we had just wrapped our spectacular 2nd Annual Macy’s dinner, cooked in a West Village townhouse that we can only hope is the mirror image of our future kitchen and work space. A girl can dream, can’t she?
While I spent three glorious weeks in Europe with my Man, Kimberly mended her broken heart back home in Buff, all the while, gearing up for our busiest November yet, as we tackled three enormous events that all together served more than 700 guests!
First up was another successful soiree with our good friends over at The Society. Set in the home of famed fashion designer Naeem Khan (yes, he’s the man who dresses Michelle Obama!), The Dinner Belle revisited Andy Warhol’s glory days, providing some of our most artistic canapés to date. Celebrating the book launch of POP: The Genius of Andy Warhol, guests were invited to explore Naeem’s home, decorated with Warhol’s famed Diamond Dust series, and nosh on our own version of POP art, including Harvest Tomato Soup served in miniature Campbell’s cans, and hand crafted Banana’s Foster Bonbons, proudly displaying Warhol’s iconic banana art.
From there we moved on to a new and exciting transatlantic client from Spain, The Secret Sherry Society (how très international of us)! Kimberly pulled out all the stops on this one, creating seven elemental tasting stations that paired with seven of Spain’s top sherries, ranging from the driest Fino to the sweetest Cream. From Truffled Mushroom Tartlets to handcrafted Pedro Xiemenz Sherry-Spiked Raisin Bonbons, these stations were not only sublime to taste, but were also spectacular to see in the Altman Building, which was transformed into a fashion showcase with models wearing sherry inspired costumes down the catwalk.
Moving a bit north from Spain, The Dinner Belle continued to shine in the international relations department, and had the pleasure of catering another huge in-store event for our favorite Brits, Topshop. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to bake 7,000 assorted biscuits and Jammy Dodgers this time around, but rather, had the tasty task of serving a traditional British Breakfast to the first 300 customers who walked through the retail giant’s doors on Black Friday. Shoppers had their pick of a savory Irish Bacon Roll or a Scottish Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel, with a warm cup of Cadbury Hot Chocolate or English Breakfast Tea (but of course!) to wash it all down.
From London, we headed east–way Far East, as we paired up with new client Opera Solutions, to help cater an internationally themed luncheon for 70 bankers in their Jersey City offices. The cuisine was Singaporian, something quite new to me, as someone a bit lacking in the adventurous palette department. Shopping in Chinatown for this event definitely succeeded in putting a worried look on my face as we encountered seafood that can only be described as “monstrous!” You can imagine my relief when I learned that Chef Belle was serving poultry as the main course, not some unknown sea urchin! I have to say, I learned a lot on this one, and was impressed by how well the homemade Bee Hoon (a tasty noodle stir fry dish) and Ong Choy (sautéed water spinach) came out. Clearly, the proof was in the pudding (or in this case, in the Agar Agar!), as well as in the never-ending line at the buffet table!
From Singapore, we journeyed back to the homeland, where another favorite repeat retail client, Journelle, hired us to provide drop off platters for two beautiful lingerie trunk shows at their Union Square location. Kimberly and I masterfully (if I do say so myself) created not only luscious, but beautifully crafted savory and sweet take-away trays, containing a wide variety of Mediterranean charcuterie and sweet treats. But don’t take my word for it…just check out the image (below) we captured of one of these puppies!
The holidays were a busy time for The Belles, as we answered well over a dozen party inquiries and had the extreme privilege to participate in two meaningful charity auctions. First up was the Chez Panisse Foundation, created by Alice Waters (only Kimberly’s goddess and role model in the real food movement!), which supports an educational initiative that uses food to nurture, educate, and empower youth through the advancement of school lunch and gardening programs. We also donated the same “Dine with The Dinner Belles” package to the Stephen Siller’s Children’s Foundation, a charity set up in honor of its namesake’s fallen 9/11 hero, with an aim to help the “forgotten” children of this world. It is a cause Kimberly and I both felt incredibly moved to join forces with, and we were awed to have our auction item raffled off by former Mayor Rudolf Giuliani this past December. Along with the auction item’s winning bidders, we’ll go shopping at Jeffery’s Essex Market Butcher and Whole Foods on the Bowery next week, before returning to our clients home for a hands-on cooking class and dinner party for six lucky invited guests.
With spring right around the corner and all of those weddings coming up (I’m sure you have at least one save the date for 2010!) I’d imagine, dear readers, that you might be in need of a clever wedding present idea? Well, why not “gift” the newlyweds a dinner party? That’s what one private client of ours did this past December. She purchased a pre-packaged, fully catered dinner from The Dinner Belle and had us send a beautiful gift card to her good friends who had just gotten married. It’s easy–you pay up front and then we get in touch with the lucky gift recipients and help them choose a date and menu items for their three course feast. Then they get to sit back, relax and let The Dinner Belle do the rest! Seriously folks, contact us if you’re just plain sick and tired of the same old registry crap. Gifting a dinner party is giving an experience; one I’m sure you’re friends and family will remember for a long time to come.
As The Dinner Belle traveled the global table this season, we’ve taken pleasure in every inspired dish and every new client. Until next time…I wish you all warming winter recipes, including Kimberly’s Hot Toddies and Cold Pudding Cups. Eat it Up!