Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Spring Take-Away, By Erin

Last week Kimberly and I decided to meet up for a late meal and dined at our favorite go-to village pasta stop, Bar Pitti. We were the lone soles occupying an outdoor table. With no heat lamps in sight, we braved the breeze and were determined to enjoy our rigatoni al fresco. Earlier in the week I decided to visit The Home Depot in search of the perfect pots to plant some flowers and start a small herb garden on my patio. Night after night for about two weeks now, I’ve insisted on sleeping with my bedroom window open, despite the damp rain and cold winds. I mean, what gives? I see pencil-tall tulips and Easter lilies in bloom, but this weather has left me feeling like I should be shopping for a Halloween costume, instead of waiting for the cherry blossoms to burst, and I don’t like it one bit. I am hungry for Spring!

At least The Dinner Belle has a straight mind, manner and respect for the seasons; Kimberly and I have been busy attracting new clients for Spring focused events, catering everything from baby showers to engagement parties, birthday BBQ’s to custom-tailored cooking lessons, and of course, we’ve been re-visiting some of our favorite retail clients to help them launch their Spring fashion lines with style, grace, and without a doubt…good taste.

Creating events that are both stylish and tasty is no small task, and we are constantly in search of new venues to partner up with–hidden gems that provide the prefect backdrop for our guests to party and play. We recently catered an opulent 40th birthday bash at Chelsea’s famed Glass Houses and welcomed this venue to our recommended list. Sitting pretty on the penthouse floor, with views to die for and a completely open feel, we were able to work with our client to transform the blank space into a glam playground for his guests. With a dessert themed menu in mind, we created a luscious spread of both farmstead cheeses and imported charcuterie, balanced by some seductive sweets–from exotic fruit spreads to chili-spiked fondue with homemade cinnamon doughnuts for dipping, seasonal tangelo bars, bacon-studded chocolate-chip cookies, and the big reveal(!), a surprise sparkling cupcake tower featuring not just one, but a trio of the birthday boy’s favorite cupcake flavors: orange creamsicle, salted-caramel chocolate turtle & red velvet cream cheese.

Cupcakes are always a fan favorite–just ask Kimberly’s readers who recently voted her strawberry shortcakes among their all-time best recipes! And who can argue? Certainly not our clients over at Stuart Weitzman, who invited us back to cater the re-launch of their Columbus Circle location in partnership with Moms and The City. For the occasion, The Dinner Belle whipped up a streamlined spring menu featuring a trio of passed canapés, including: miniature cupcakes, truffled mushroom tartlets and The Big Apple–focaccia, apple, bacon, brie bites graced with edible flower blossoms. Guests sipped on champagne and shopped for the latest wedges, pumps and heels as the celebrity-spiked crowd cooed over our food.

From the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle, we then headed back downtown to cater an array of food-forward events at Topshop. We filled a fashion-week order for some 3,000 personalized “I heart TS” cake-pops, then prepared a full day’s spread for a press event to unveil the season’s hottest trends. While editors from the famous fashion magazines browsed the racks and picked pieces to feature in their columns, they were treated to breakfast and lunch buffets offering an assortment of homemade baked goods, sweet berries served in shot glasses, a rainbow of French macarons and finger sandwiches galore. Next week we’ll return to Topshop yet again to cater the in-store launch of their “Secret Store.” What, you may ask, is that? Well, it’s a secret, so my lips are sealed, but stay tuned for more details. You can be sure  that The Dinner Belle will once again wow our favorite Brits with classic culinary gems from across the pond!

Despite filling our calendars with corporate events this season, we always find time for smaller, more intimate affairs as well; we had a ton of fun recently, when we conducted a cooking lesson for a group up gals hosted by our lovely intern, Anna, and then turned around a few days later and did it again for a couple of couples wanting instruction and degustation in their private Soho kitchen. On tap for both menus was our Violet Kiss champagne cocktail (a simple sparkler that mixes violet liqueur, bubbly and violet blossoms) and pitch-perfect wine pairings; we served two distinct three-course dinners, featuring Chef Belle’s meatballs in a homemade cherry tomato sauce, braised fennel and artichoke hearts, goat cheese garlic bread and raspberry-almond tiramisu trifles for the first, and parchment-wrapped roasted dorade packages, asparagus and Serrano ham puff pastry, mixed microgreens with pickled spring veg and pink grapefruit cookie bars for the second.

Having done this sort of lesson before, often auctioned off as a donated prize for the charities we support, Kimberly and I are eager to do more. Bringing The Dinner Belles to your home kitchen for a private tutorial is a completely unique, hands-on experience for parties of any size. Here’s how it works: you help us plan the menu, Kimberly customizes the recipes to perfectly fit your tastes and budget, then we supply a shopping list. The day of the event, you buy all the ingredients and we show up to walk you through preparing dinner over the course of a 2-3 hour lesson, leaving you and your guests with a fabulous meal and copies of our recipes to enjoy long after we’ve bid you adieu. This sort of service makes for a wonderful gift or party idea, so feel free to contact me for more information and a price quote if you or someone you know may be interested.

With more events coming up in May, including a fancy cocktail soiree for Forever 21, an eco-friendly VIP showcase for the Italian leather notebook company Moleskin, and a Vietnamese spring roll feast, we’re currently taking bookings for the summer season and have a new incentive to offer our readers—free take-away treats! This summer only, when a new client books us on any date in June or July, we’ll make sure your guests don’t go home hungry with gift-boxed edible indulgences like our strawberry shortcakes, bacon-chocolate chip cookies or brown butter blueberry muffinsfree of charge.  Events must meet our standard minimums and must take place in either June or July of 2011. I’m hungry just thinking about this, so don’t delay—this sale starts today!

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2 Responses to “The Spring Take-Away, By Erin”

  1. Monica

    Great post! I wish you guys were here in Aus for an at home experience! Would love to have a tutorial at my place whilst catering for friends!

  2. Kimberly Belle

    So do I, Monica! I love Austin ;) Thanks to both my out-of-city readers for writing. Angela, what in the sam hill is miner’s lettuce??? XO

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