Monday, December 2, 2013

Lunch in a garden

On the day of my mom's 80th birthday party, in a week of raging summer winds, the southeaster lay down and died. 

The corgis were brushed, the tables were beautifully set, the carport had been turned into a kitchen, presided over by Elaine and Elrika of Food Fanatics, the Playing with Fire musicians led by my friend, clarinetist Matthew Reid, gathered on the shaded deck beneath the plane tree. Moët (pronounced moo-WET, please, not moo-WAY) corks popped and waiters passed around trays of quails eggs and asparagus toasts. 

It was warm.

The place cards came from a pretty little shop in Grand Central. I can never remember its name.

I had done the table flowers with roses from Chart Farm, garden flowers and herbs, and extras from the beautiful selections at Pick 'n Pay and Woolworth.

My mom had arranged the menu moons in advance with Elaine, and had enjoyed the tasting lunch arranged some weeks ago, very much. If you want good food at your party, Food Fanatics are the people to call.

 And this time I did not have to stress about making a speech - as my brother Francois's number was up.

The deconstructed gazpacho was based on a recipe from the restaurant at Creation, a wine estate in the Hemel and Aarde (heaven and earth) Valley above Hermanus.

The salad was inspired by the one my mother and I ate at The Round House in June. On its heels came a chicken liver terrine, a Raymond Blanc classic with a beetroot and onion marmalade. Up to this point all the courses were served individually, before platters of salmon and later beef came to the tables so that everyone could help themselves.

Loved the salmon - served with lemon aioli and fennel confit.

Tipsy Titoti...

Jazz from under the plane tree.

A guest declared, This is the best lunch I have had in my whole life! and meant it.

People started to leave at 5.30pm.

The Frenchman took lots of better pictures. 

Hopefully he got some good ones of dessert. I was too busy eating it...

Today is my mother's actual birthday and I'll roast a little lamb leg with crispy potatoes underneath (you put the leg on a rack above the potatoes and they catch its drippings.)

And then that will be that, for a while.


  1. Dear Marie,
    this sounds and looks wonderful! And feels a bit like a tale from another time (feeling enhanced by the fact that we just had our first snow...) I am intrigued by the menu, it does sound delicious, especially the salad! (And the fish, and the main course and the dessert!)
    At first I was a bit confused by the soup but I'm glad that you cleared it up that the "Hemel and Aarde" bit makes reference to a restaurant. I know "Hemel and Aarde" as a German dish made from apples (Himmel) and potatoes (Erde), often served with blood sausage. So to combine that with gazapacho would have been quite a stretch, even in fusion cuisine :)
    The best wishes to your mother!

  2. What a gorgeous way to celebrate : ) Given the opposite weathers of far away places, it is almost other-worldly...

  3. Just perfection. Everything looks lovely and so well thought out and composed. Thank you for the picture of Tipsy. I send best wishes for your mother's 80th birthday.

  4. Hooray for MOO-ET! I am always scolded when I pronounce it the correct way...........even my French friends think it is MO-AY. Oh well, it's nice to be right all the time. :)
    Looks like you are having a beautiful trip. xo

  5. Happy birthday to your mother! What a perfect luncheon--gorgeous surroundings and heavenly food! I agree with Christine about "a tale from another time". Wonderful to see Tipsy again :)

  6. I am obsessed by those asparagus toasts and have returned to this page several times now to ogle them. I have a little question: straight toast? garlic toast? I would love to make these.

    1. I didn't ask specifically, but it tasted like (toasted) brioche, to me.

    2. Gracias, Marie. And I have to say, those little yellow rose bouquets are the most heart-meltingly beautiful things I've seen all December! Enjoy your stay - it's lovely to armchair travel along your South African highways and byways, and share food with you at these exotic places. (And I have purchased 66 Square Feet for my daughter, so we can enjoy it together. And recommended it to a Princeton cousin who has now purchased two copies for Brooklyn & Manhattan daughters-in-law! Delighted it's such a success. You have worked so hard to fill the book with beauty.)


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