Great Small Feasts
We are all used to a feast being an epic gigantic memorable affair. My feast, hosted this past Sunday for just TWO guests, begs the question:
Are VERY small feasts worth hosting?
Total headcount: FOUR! The proverbial double date. Wouldn’t it have made much more sense, money-wise, time-wise, labor-wise, to make reservations at the best restaurant, and call it a day?
In theory, the answer is, yes, of course. Even the most expensive restaurant would have been more cost-effective and would have left us with a free Sunday; and more to the point, we would have returned to a tidy home. We all host Shabbos meals, and we are all know: The more guests, the more we amortize in all areas. Cooking for a baker’s dozen: This is more my speed, and it is no doubt yours too!
So far we all agree on the math. So what was I smoking? The answer is:
Some hosting situations defy math and logic.
This time , the exception that confirms the rule has to do with our long fulfilling years at Levana Restaurant. I am proud to have been, with my partners, not only the pioneer in Kosher Upscale Dining, but the longest-running Kosher Restaurant. Hardly a day goes by without someone gushing to me how much they missed our restaurant, and how regrettable it is that so few Kosher restaurants have kept our tradition of serving specialty meats alive: Bison, dear, quail, to name just a few delicacy that have look all but extinct since we closed our doors. And I honestly think our annual wine pairing dinners have not been topped, or quite matched.
I should keep a list of Levana Restaurant nostalgists!
The couple we hosted one of those great small feasts for were right on top of that nostalgists list. They got engaged at Levana Restaurant, for Gd’s sake! The trigger was funny: When we discussed where to meet for dinner, the husband said, oy, what would I give to have the sweetbreads you used to serve at Levana!
I love me a good food challenge!
The sweetbreads did it! I decided right there and then that the venue will be, Sunday night Chez Levana. So yes, it was a lot of work. But on the practical side, the next day some friends came to visit, and we served them a complete dinner. Such is the great blessing that comes with a good home: We never run out of good food!
As great Small Feasts go, this one was in the Major Leagues.
All right, here is my menu. WITH RECIPE LINKS! YAY! Oh yes, just one more comment before I dig in: When you serve an expensive meat, I recommend choosing the simplest possible recipe, so as to offset the price. A very labored and very expensive dish will likely disappear from your repertoire, whereas if you keep it simple, you will be encouraged to do it again!
Kani and seaweed salad with baby kale, fresh corn, watercress and peanuts.
I served this dish with my Lychee, Sake and Vodka Punch
Let’s see what we’ve got on this fabulous board!
I displayed it charcuterie board style
Seared Duck Breast. You’ll find the link a great primer on all things duck, and the breast is right there!
Dry Spice Rub seared Boneless Chicken Thighs
Heirloom Tomato and Roasted Pepper Salad: Just olive oil and pink salt.
Saute Baby Bokchoy
Sweetbreads in Lemon Mustard Sauce. The aforementioned Trigger! Here I just followed the recipe for my Salmon in Lemon Mustard Caper Sauce.
But with a couple preliminary steps: I soaked the sweetbreads in ice water and vinegar for a good hour, then I discarded the soaking water and rinsed them, then diced them and went on with the recipe.
Creamy Polenta topped with stovetop “roasted” portobello and tomatoes. I need to remember what the heck I did, and write the recipe. Well worth sharing!
Blueberry Cake: Because, how could I not?
The Grand Finale.
The ones I would travel miles for.
Oh. Em. Gee