Last night I attended a lovely dinner party on the Upper East Side. The Chef and host carefully prepared a menu I could eat. Thank you again, Bill! It was a totally delicious and decadent spread.
There were some cheeses and rolls of meats laid out upon our arrival to keep up entertained as our Chef prepared the salad course. [I don’t know which since I didn’t get that close to the platter].
Once we sat, we all started with some Veuve Clicquot and a toast to our host.
The salad was a very delicate yet manly: watercress, Asian pear and pomegranate seeds in a basic vinaigrette dressing. I don’t usually eat vinaigrettes outside of the home because restos use the same bowls to mix e.g. if there is a salad with walnuts mixed before mine, it’s a potential problem. But this was fine. No nuts anywhere.
The entree was a platter of double lamb chops, marinated in paprika, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs. The Chef seared them, and by seared I mean there were shooting flames from the indoor grill--spectacular--and then into a hot oven to finish. They were made to order; mine was perfectly medium well and tender. I couldn’t help but bring the double bone to my lips to get every lamb-y charred bit.
The sidekick entree was prime strip steak, marinated in olive oil, salt and pepper. One steak was medium, one was medium rare and both sliced against the grain. Such a flavorful cut of meat, I helped myself to a few slices and then to a few slices more.
There were some grilled skinny asparagus in garlic and olive oil—looking green and tender.
There was more vino rosso.
And then thankfully there was a mini-break, as dishes were cleared and washed and the chocolate was discovered to have gone on walkabout.
A guest, Kenny, kindly went to the store for replacement chocolate which was melted over a double boiler and left warming as fresh fruits [strawberries, mango, pineapple, pear, and banana] were dipped, scooped, scraped, dredged and otherwise coated by happy chocolate-finger-licking guests.
We finished with some prosecco that I brought—the only thing I bought at Trader Joe’s that day. [For $6.99 it was very decent—dry and light, not as complex as a champagne but refreshing--just what it should be.]
And I was treated to a brief belly dancing lesson from Stephanie, which if my belly weren’t full of meat, might have gone a bit more smoothly.
As you might suspect, dinner parties can be hazardous for an allergic person. As clearly as I spell out what I can or cannot have, sometimes a cook just thinks oh, a little won’t hurt. Or doesn’t realize that not washing one’s hands after touching an allergen can make all the difference. Or a thousand of other little things like the host serves something store bought, throws away the container, says it’s pesto without nuts and actually it’s filled with walnuts [hasn’t happened to me but it could, easily].
Educating one friends and lovers about one’s allergies is a long process but an important one. Sometimes friends can be well meaning but not as careful; in those instances you simply eat before you go. Many times friends are very careful and considerate once given the parameters of what one can and cannot eat. But mostly it’s up to you, to speak up and to be wary. And bring Benedryl and your Epi-Pens.