Friday, November 18, 2005

Don't be a chocolate hater

November 17

6:00 P.M. Opening party of Peacock Alley at the Waldorf-Astoria

Big hair’s back. Not the Farrah Fawcett style of the 1970s and ’80s, but the grand, poofy hair of decades before. A couple of women’s coiffures caused gasps from younger attendees. The gasps combined delight and horror as we regarded one elderly woman with a spider plant of teased hair-sprayed strands arching up and then hanging down from her head. Another woman in late middle age had her hair molded into a sort of grand, lopsided puffball. Both hair-dos clearly required so much work as to seem anachronistic, but they were also kind of cool.
“The Peacocks are out!” marveled one friend, a nice reference to the origin of the name Peacock Alley, which is where New York’s upper crust would come to strut and in general put themselves on display.
“If you’re that homely, you have to have a personality,” said another friend, perhaps too loudly.
I would have stayed until the party was over, but I was having dinner at the Beard House again.

7:30 P.M. James Beard House. Featured chef: Steven Peterson, executive chef of MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.
The MGM Grand brought its own plates, which apparently is what the MGM Mirage group does when one of its chefs comes to the Beard House. I’m not sure why. I and the other journalists were seated with the hotel group’s publicist at Table 11, not Table 5 where press usually sits.
Table 11 is great because it’s in James Beard’s former bedroom, as evidenced by the mirrored ceiling.
It was a good group – a mix of trade writers, writers from celebrity magazines, and one from Life. I was the only man at the table, which is not unusual, but three of the seven women detested chocolate, which is pretty odd.
I’m coming across more and more people who aren’t big fans of chocolate. This confuses me.

What I ate and drank:

Kobe Beef Tartare in Parmesan Cannoli
Crispy Prosciutto Grissini with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Italian Parsley
Big-Eye Tuna on Sesame Rice Crackers
Marinated White Anchovies on Dried Tomato Crostini
Foie Gras on Warm Brioche
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV

Eggplant and Asparagus Martini with Oxtail Gelée, Olive Oil–Potato Purée, and Truffled Lobster Salad
Prager Hinter der Berg Federspiel Grüner Veltliner 2001

Chayote Squash Salad with Cava Vinegar
Ca’ del Bosco Franciacorta Brut NV

Braised Sweetbreads and Caramelized Scallops with Fennel, Celeriac, Verjus, and Baby Arugula
Baumard Clos du Papillon Savennieres 2001

Tasting of Four Story Lamb with Pomegranate, Porcini, Onion Daube, and Lamb Charcuterie
Coto de Imaz Reserve Rioja 1999

Butternut Squash Gratin with Crème Fraîche Ice Cream and Spice Cake
Alois Kracher Cuvée Beerenauslese NV

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