Have you ever had a meal that you wish could go on forever and a day? Have you ever planned an entire menu that was better suited to another time – say in the spirit of the Edwardian in era?
Have you ever dreamed of a crazy dinner party that involves both? Remember when the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic sparked a rash of elegant parties to capture that final night as a first class passenger with recreations of their last meal?
What if you took all that lovely elegance and really had fun with it. Instead of having an extravagant dinner party for six or eight people all in one place, why not transform it into a moveable feast? Think about it – a dinner party that wandered from house to house among your nearby friends. How wild is that!
The idea is simple enough – find other couples that are just as wacky crazy and who like to entertain. Divvy up the various courses and move the feast from home to home. (I would HIGHLY recommend finding people who are within walking distance if alcoholic beverages are to be served – or arrange transportation, be it a designated driver or taxi service). Maybe party-goers could even dress up for the occasion – not necessarily in vintage clothing – although that would be fun, it could also prove to be expensive. Dressing up could be as simply as accessories – top hats for the gentlemen, big frilly hats for the ladies.
For a dinner party of this magnitude, menus – how many “courses” and what to serve – are all big questions. It could be as simple or over the top as you and your fellow travelers want to make it. The first big hurdle is to create a participants list. If you are the organization committee; then call up a bunch of your friends and neighbors, have them over for a casual barbecue and see just who is interested. For the Moveable Feast to be a success, there needs to be a firm commitment. Once you know how many are willing and able to participate in such silliness; you can build your courses from there; adding, deleting or combining as necessary. The next big hurdle is to pick a date that will work with everyone’s schedule and family needs. Once those hurdles are met; the final menu can be created. (A second get together might not be a bad idea to work out the details). Personal tastes and culinary skills will be key factors in the recipe selection. Below are the framework for a ten, eight and six dinner to help you along.
TEN COURSE DINNER – SERVED EUROPEAN STYLE
1st COURSE – APERITIF
Champagne with a splash of raspberry liqueur, cosmopolitan or sparkling wine with splash of fruit juice.
2nd COURSE – CANAPÉS OR AMUSE
Salmon, shrimp or cold duck are good choices.
3rd COURSE – SOUP
Clear Soup – French Onion or Consommé or a cream soup such as Cream of Asparagus. Rolls or bread sticks may also accompany the soup.
4th COURSE – FISH
Poached Salmon with a Mousseline Sauce and Cucumbers or a grilled Dover Sole Piccata would be nice
5th COURSE – SORBET
Usually citrus – lime, lemon or blood orange Sorbets are a good choice. These can easily be found in the ice cream section of most grocery stores.
6th COURSE – 1ST ENTRÉE – MEAT, FISH OR FOUL
Any type of meat dish will do, including poultry or seafood. Consider a special meat dish, such as chicken Marsala, as opposed to a straight meat dish. Balsamic Glazed Cornish Hens make for a nice presentation. Filet Mignons or Tournedos of Beef with Pepper Corn Sauce or any roasted meat in a reduction sauce is also impressive.
7th COURSE – 2ND ENTRÉE – MEAT, FISH OR FOUL OR VEGETARIAN DISH
This course can include meat as well, but something with a different preparation approach than the first. If your first meat dish was baked, the second may feature a meat dish that is broiled. You can also serve a pasta dish or a vegetable dish (such as eggplant parmesan) in place of meat. One or two vegetables are also served with this course.
8th COURSE – SALAD
Generally mixed young greens with a vinaigrette and shaved cheeses such as Parmesan or asparagus with a vinaigrette. Consider a simple Cucumber , tomato and onion in a vinaigrette dressing.
9th COURSE – DESSERTS
Serve something memorable that rounds out your eight-course meal. Chocolate mousse, pastries or Vanilla Panna Cotta with strawberry Coulis. Fruit tarts or cakes with a champagne icing.
10th COURSE – COFFEES AND AFTER DINNER DRINKS
Coffees served in demi-cups, teas & dessert wines served away from the dining table in a relaxed setting. Cognac and sweet liqueurs are also appropriate.
EIGHT COURSE DINNER – EUROPEAN STYLE
1st COURSE – APPETIZERS
Two or three selections, one or two pieces per person. An aperitif or sparkling wine would be a nice touch.
2nd COURSE – SOUP
Soup – either a clear or a cream soup. Warm bread or bread sticks should accompany the soup course. In the summer, a cold soup may be served. Keep it small and simple.
3rd COURSE – SORBET
In the winter, a citrus sorbet such as a lime, lemon or blood orange is to be served. In the summer, a sweet sorbet such as a Raspberry or Mango sorbet is considered to be refreshing.
4th COURSE – 1ST MEAT COURSE – LARGER ENTREE
Beef, chicken or fish served with potatoes or pasta and a small serving of vegetables
5th COURSE – 2ND MEAT COURSE – SMALLER ENTREE
Beef, Foul, Fish or Chicken with a small vegetable. Any vegetable served during this course is simply as a side “garnishment”. Example: Tornados of Beef may be served with three or four cubes of well-seasoned potatoes and two or three spears of asparagus.
6th COURSE – SALAD
A salad of mixed greens, croton and a light vinaigrette dressing. Or Asparagus with a vinaigrette. This is another palate cleanser, thus creamy dressings should be avoided.
7th COURSE – DESSERTS AND SWEETS
Frozen desserts, creamy desserts or tiny cakes are a good choice as are individual tarts. The dessert should be memorable and well presented. Serve a nice, crisp dessert wine that is not overly sweet.
8th COURSE – COFFEES AND AFTER DINNER DRINKS
The final course is the closure of the evening’s affairs. Café drinks and teas are offered, as are brandies and after dinner drinks. This course is served away from the dining table – in a relaxed and leisurely fashion.
SIMPLIFIED SIX COURSE SUITABLE FOR FORMAL OR CASUAL DINNER
1st COURSE – APPETIZER OR ANTI-PASTA TRAY
Appetizers should be kept simple, the anti-pasta tray a colorful selection of marinated vegetables and cold deli meats
2nd COURSE – SOUP OR PASTA COURSE
Either a clear or cream soup or Pasta with a light cream sauce or simply buttery-garlic. Warm bread or soft bread sticks may accompany either.
3rd COURSE – MAIN ENTREE
Select one or two types of meat, a starch such as potatoes and one vegetable.
4th COURSE – SALAD
Baby greens with a light dressing is a good choice
5th COURSE – DESSERTS AND SWEETS
Consider a cream dessert such as Chocolate Mousse or a Custard Tart with fresh fruits.
6th COURSE – COFFEES AND AFTER DINNER DRINKS
Either café style coffees or hot teas and a port wine or Cordials. Grapes with an assortment of cheeses are also a nice touch.
Another “twist” would be to have everyone prepare their particular course based on a childhood favorite. An example of childhood favorite could be for the little tuna fish or egg salad sandwiches for an appetizer or canape selection and an ever popular childhood favorite such as chicken noodle soup for the soup selection. For the history buffs among you, the dinner could move through time, beginning with the first course in a style the furthest back in time, and the final course today. (Music of particular periods would help set the mood). Or perhaps the “theme” of the evening could be world travel – with a bucket list of countries to visit, if only from a culinary perspective.
Over the next several weeks; I’ll do my best to scour up some recipes for your consideration. As always, take with you what you like, build from it or not. If you have any suggestions or links you would like to share; feel free to do so. I’ll be sure to include it in any future posting in the coming weeks.
Thanks for stopping by – y’all come back now, hear?