This month we took to the living room to enact All About Eve, the scintillating classic drama about a neurotic, aging (she's only turning 40!) actress and the young upstart who schemes to uproot her life. The reading was different this time, we weren't reading from a copy of a staged play--I had found a transcript of an old Lux radio play, edited to fit the format--and actually featured the star of the film, none other than Miss Bette Davis.
As the legendary New York restaurant '21' figures into the film, I was inspired to create a menu from one of my favorite cookbooks, '21' of course, that was given to me by a dear friend years ago, with recipes by chef extraordinaire Michael Lomonaco. I set the table to mimic the tables at '21' with red and white checkered napkins, and cocktail napkins and stirrers from the joint that a bartender was kind enough to give me when I had recently visited. And of course there was a wide-rimmed martini glass for decoration.
Chilled Relish Tray (celery, radishes and black olives)
Butter Lettuces with Peas & Shallot Champagne Vinaigrette
London Broil with Roasted Shallots
"Cold Cocoa" Cups
I filled a copper gratin pan with crushed ice and placed my dish of appetizing raw vegetables upon it before we began reading, as we caught up with a few glasses of wine.
Simple butter lettuces with peas served as a wonderful salad, dressed with Lomonaco's utterly distracting vinaigrette.
A London Broil steak was cooked well enough in an attempt to evenly gauge everyone's taste for doneness. Our off-oven preparation may be found here from a great New York Times article. The recipe for accompanying roasted shallots was pulled from the '21' cookbook and tasted like we had entered a Parisian bistro when paired with the meat.
The shallots before, performing a merry dance all on their own, quite bouncing about, as they sauteed in butter...
And after, being roasted in the oven with sugar, butter, salt, pepper and chicken stock for about 40 minutes until they become such a lovely gold brown.
The meat of the matter!
The '21' flourless chocolate torte that we intended to make had some issues--Baby and I couldn't unmold it from the pan! Julia Child once lamented (more or less) that "cooking is one disaster after another!" But as with any recipe, calmed assurance, control and a touch of ingenuity must also be added to the list of ingredients. We scooped the torte out of the pan as there was nothing wrong with it except for its unwillingness to budge, and into some elegant cups from a vintage coffee service. We topped this with spurts of whipped cream and blossoms of dark chocolate curls for a truly fabulous dessert.
It started out this way, with sugar and corn syrup brought to a boil.
Ten whole eggs goes into this torte, beaten in an electric mixer to a frenzy!
Melting the chocolate in a double boiler until it turns to...
shimmering chocolate silk for the rich base of your torte!
Although our torte wasn't what we had hoped for, and it pained us to disrupt
our confection in such a way as we did, nobody was the wiser and practically licked
their cups clean. So don't tell everybody all about our
Soundtrack: Atlantic Jazz, Hits of the 50's; Jorge Bolet, Lizst, Piano Works, Vol. 1; Applause, Original Broadway Cast.
After weathering a soul-shredding career as a theatrical agent that lasted entirely too long, Mr. Sherwood left his stable of actors from the stage and screen and went on to pursue his literary aspirations. He is currently the dining editor for Next magazine (nextmagazine.com) where he writes a weekly restaurant review column which also features Manhattan's best food and drink recipes from the finest chef's and bartenders on the island. In 2010 he was published in Foodista’s Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. He toiled as web editor for industry leader Interior Design magazine for several years and has also written for New York magazine, Travel & Leisure and Woman’s Day.
A proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire, one of the nation’s top drinking schools, Mr. Sherwood also studied voice and theater abroad at Regent’s College, in London’s historic Regent’s Park, and at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent a year at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Mr. Sherwood recently published his first novel, the pale of memory, available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and iUniverse.com. He is in the midst of writing a second.
Twitter/tweet/twat him @kaleidabox