Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Big Night III - The Event

As I ended my previous post, the guests were arriving for the big party at Bobby Jay's, the restaurant making a brief appearance at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE). To refresh your recollection, the menu for the event consisted of the following:

As people arrived, they were plied with drinks, especially champagne, and a parade of hors d'oeuvres. I was quite happy with the way all of them came out, but I think the shrimp in kadaifa nests was the surprise star of the group.

Corn Soup, Crabcakes and Shrimp in Kadaifa Nests

We had taken over the entire sixth floor of ICE, so guests could wander around and observe Chef Brendan's wonderful team in the two kitchens getting ready for the final plating of the tomato salad and the firing of the main courses.

Lettuce Waiting for Tomatoes; Chef Brendan and Bobby Jay

Finally, dinner was served in Bobby Jay's. The duck breast with port and plum sauce was fine, just what I expected, but the fish (which I didn't choose as my own main) was extraordinary. Brendan chose to use fillets of striped bass rather than the smaller Mediterranean sea bass that I had called for, and it was a great decision. The sesame crusted skin was crispy, and the pungent argan oil made its presence know while not overwhelming the other flavors -- a chick-pea purée and a Moroccan melange of fava beans and other vegetables.

Duck Breast with Plum Sauce; Sesame Crusted Bass

After the main courses, J made a lovely speech, describing the history of the event, acknowledging many of our friends, particularly those of longest standing, and, touchingly, calling me "the most successfully retired person" she has met. Indeed, I felt that way all night.

Then the cheese platter from Ann Saxelby's wonderful shop in the Essex Market, followed by a series of wonderful toasts that made me blush. Next, the blueberry almond tart, a speech by Bobby Jay and, finally, the trio of chocolates, macarons and mini-madeleines.

Blueberry Almond Tart with Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream; Gourmandises

In hindsight I realize that this was not merely my "Big Night," which after all refers to the second best food movie. Given the happiness and love in evidence at Bobby Jay's that night -- evoked by a celebratory meal -- from my perspective, at least, the event was more reminiscent of the greatest food movie of all time: perhaps I should have called this series of posts "Bobette's Feast."

Farewell, Bobby Jay's

Either way, it was a dream come true for me, and I was a bit sorry to see the end of my restaurant's fleeting existence.

Bobby Jay

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