It is snowing this morning.
I’m on my way to a job uptown. It’s a birthday party for a family of eight. The menu is a classic:
croudite with aoili
wild mushroom risotto
pan seared chicken with tomato confit, roasted potato, garlic string beans
arugula and bib lettuce with toasted walnut, pear, and dolce gorgonzola
flourless chocolate cake
all the beautiful vegetables that I can find, steamed or served raw, tossed with a little olive oil and served with great big fresh shrimp and an aioli (garlic mayonnaise), then a mushroom risotto, then seared chicken breast (frenched, which means to cut the breast into halves, remove the wing tips at the first joint, leaving the rest of the wing intact, and then clean all the messy bits off so that the breast looks like a perfect triangle. Once the breast is seared and roasted, the rib bones are removed, and the meat scraped from the remaining wing bone, so that you have a beautiful piece of chicken that you can slice on the diagonal, with all the flavor of meat cooked on the bone, but no mess of the bone at service.) The chicken is going to be marinated in Dijon mustard, fresh parsley, fresh thyme, whole heads of garlic, great big pieces of lemon zest and olive oil for at least 4 hours. I am going to make a tomato confit to garnish each breast (peeled, blanched, shocked tomates that are arranged on a sheet pan covered with foil, drizzled with olive oil, and then each tomato is topped with a sliver of garlic and more olive oil, then baked for 4 hours at 275 degrees.
I would do mashed potato and string beans with garlic, to serve with the chicken, but the birthday girl doesn’t like cream or butter, so I’ll do roasted potatoes instead. (one point for me)
For the salad course I’m going to do bibb lettuce tossed around with arugula, some lightly toasted walnuts, bartlet pear, and sweet gorgonzola. When I asked the birthday girl about the cheese, she said no one (anywhere) should eat cheese, and I’m going to offer it anyways. (Remove the one point for me). I have no place doing jobs like this, where the idea is to do as someone asks you to do. It’s not my family, I haven’t even met them before, and yet I feel I have the right to serve sweet gorgonzola regardless of the rules. The thing is, what’s a pear salad with walnuts without the cheese? It’s teeth without a jaw. This is where my own ethics get confused with business and why I have never been able to hold a job working for anyone else.
For dessert I’m making a flourless chocolate cake made with over a pound of chocolate and covered with (more) chocolate ganache. Ever so lightly whipped cream on the side. I might candy some rose petals to decorate it. If I have already served cheese for salad, I may as well go all the way down hill and serve sin for dessert.