Halloween has always been, after Christmas, my most favorite holiday to entertain. In years past, I did a lot of entertaining and prided myself in setting a beautiful table. I think I thought of myself as the next Carolyne Roehm, my hero.
I don't know how I packed so much stuff in my apartment. There were plates and glasses and tablecloths and flower arrangements hidden all over the place! I had quite a large archive in my brain of where everything was. Now, as I unpack in a much larger house, I wonder how I ever did it. I don't entertain like that anymore, just don't have the stamina, or the money, for that matter. Maybe now that I live with my daughter, the artist, I will get a second wind, but for the time being, here are some of the memories:
For the pumpkin, I usually called a kid, a nephew, a niece, a neighbor, anybody to carve the pumpkin. Then I started to build from that. On that particular year, I was gaga over my black candles, and I was debuting my new china in orange tones I had literally carried from Gien, France. Some raffia ribbons, lots of goodies from Marshall's, some old silver, and orange and black M&Ms in little Halloween clay pots and poof! magic!
The menu was French (my idea of being quirky), and every year I invited only 8 people. Small, intimate, sit down and easy to cook for. No costumes or funny drinks! But yes, place cards, and menu cards staggered around the table. Champagne with cocktails for those who liked it and a good French wine with the main course. In those days, with the dollar almost at par with the euro, it was affordable to do so. Nowadays, it's prohibitive and a little ostentatious, if not politically incorrect!
Creme de Potiron
(Creamy Butternut Squash Soup)
Breast of Duck with Corn Cake
And Spinach Puree
Munster Avec Confiture d' Eglantine
Warm Chocolate Tart Jean Georges
That year I had gone to Alsace and come back loaded with confiture d'eglantine, a jam typical and only found in Alsace.. I really can't describe or translate eglantine, nobody, for that matter, can!. It;s a small red fruit, not terribly sweet, loaded in vitamin C. The taste is very hard to descibe, the only thing I can compare it to is guava...same color, but a totally different fuit. At the hotel where we stayed, they served it with the cheese course which, in that region HAD to be Munster. Here is a clip of eglantine confiture, in French but easy to follow.
Another year, 2002, I had just come back from Normandy and Brittany so Halloween was spent "in Normandy"
Terrine de Coquilles Saint-Jacques
Soupe au Marrons
Cailles Aux Figues Fraiches et Au Miel
Puree de Poireaux
Tarte Chaude aux Pommes