The Dish on the Menu
In the interest of the reading public, the editor of InCommon recently helped a committee of selfless volunteers approve the menu for the Celebration Ball, which includes a five-course dinner with an academic theme.
Executive chef Chad Licsko, who supervises the kitchens at Moravian, prepared the meal, which had been chosen by the committee.
We passed four of the six hors d’œuvre (which also will be passed— on trays). We gave A’s to the sausage and cheese-stuffed mushrooms, the cocktail shrimp on a fork garnished with a lime-shallot remoulade, the tiny vegetable spring rolls, and the seared polenta triangles.
The soup du jour was carrot-ginger, thick and golden, slightly pungent and slightly sweet. It and a roasted red pepper soup will be displayed in beakers and served in test tubes as shooters, in honor of Chemistry. The soups were accompanied by tiny breads: Roquefort puffs, jalapeño-corn muffins, and buttermilk biscuits.
At the ball, diners will proceed to the French table, which holds two kinds of crêpes roulades: smoked salmon (a.k.a. lox) with caper mayonnaise and grilled asperge avec Boursin. It also offers endive stuffed with fromage de chèvre, a baked Brie with fruit and crostini, and wild mushroom strudel. It is not necessary to pronounce crostini and strudel with a French accent; under Napoleon, the French ruled Vienna and much of Italy.
The salad—and here we abandoned all pretense to things academic—sent us all into a swoon: seared sea scallops and crabmeat over a slice of melon carpaccio, cucumbers julienne, and fennel.
Our palates by this time needed refreshment, so we were given a tiny snifter of raspberry Cabernet sorbet, after which no one wanted anything but more raspberry Cabernet sorbet.
By then we were stuffed, so we forced ourselves to eat our bœuf Wellington, which came with a fanfare. (“Ta-da!”) In Chef Licsko’s variation, a petit filet mignon was topped with a sun-dried tomato and wild mushroom ragoût before being wrapped in puff pastry garnished with a Moravian star (also of puff pastry) and basted with a Cabernet demi-glace.
Also on the plate was a filet of pan-seared butterfish, set in a pool of butternut squash purée; mashed purple potatoes; and baby carrots avec stems. For vegetarians, there were individual squares of mushroom and roasted vegetable lasagna.
Most of us set aside at least half our bœufs Wellingtons in order to save room for dessert. The dessert sampler included butter pecan tartlets, chocolate mousse in tiny chocolate cups, and a wedge of lemon marble cheesecake, definitely the pièce de résistance.
Afterward we rolled home or went back to work. We would need some time to take off the five pounds we’d just gained. That must be why dancing follows dinner.