Saturday, May 17, 2014

Memento - A Literary Feast

Tonight was the final round of our current season of Memento - the meal planned backwards and eaten forwards. This round was hosted by Lizzie at Carolyn & David's house, with a theme of "A Literary Feast". Each of us picked a favorite book as the inspiration for our course, and read a bit from it when presenting our dish.

The first appetizer course was from Lizzie herself, inspired by Christopher Moore's novel "A Dirty Job", in which the protagonist realizes he's death. Her Hell inspired dish was Deviled Cheese Toasts - featuring white and yellow sharp cheddar cheese, mayo, peppers, pickles, and Franks red hot. It was accompanied by a Bloody Mary with a Bacon swizzle stick. A wonderful, playful start to the night.

Dan & I were up next, taking inspiration from a favorite book of both of us, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chomsky. It's a coming of age tale about a lonely high school freshman who finds friends in some seniors and begins to participate in life for the first time. It's a very sad story that taps into some of my own memories in ways that make me cry just thinking about it. Dan read a piece from the book that spoke to him, then I cried my way through a particularly moving passage for me.

As I read the book a second time on my Kindle, I highlighted ever reference to food in the book, hoping for inspiration. Unfortunately, it's mostly french fries and pot brownies, so not quite what we were looking for. But in true literary style, we used a pun playing off the book's title:

Faux Porks of Bean a Wallflower - two types of vegan bacon bits (Frontier Vegetarian Bits Bac'uns, 2.7-Ounce Bottle and homemade sunflower bacon bits) atop a Cannellini bean garlic parsley purée, with a homemade gluten-free cracker covered with edible bibiscus, lavender and brassica flowers.

Because it comes up a few times in the book, we served our dish with a bottle of brandy.

Inspired by the pot brownies in the book, (which is the chapter my passage was from), we also served everyone an edible flower called a "Buzz Buttons" that makes your mouth tingle and your salivary glands go into overdrive. We all had fun trying them out and then inviting the kids to try them, too. They're not a drug or narcotic, but have a similar effect as Szechuan peppercorns.

Next up was the Salad course from Marcy & James, which James had taken the lead on using his favorite Hemingway novel as his inspiration, "The Old Man and the Sea".

Their salad of butter lettuce, avocado, cucumber, and tomato was topped with pancetta, grapefruit, and some wonderful tuna (a fish referenced many times in the book), with a bright white vinegar, mustard, garlic and olive oil dressing.

Taking inspiration from a book neither had read, Anna & Jason's Entree course was courtesy of "Lolita".

The decadent dish was a Pork tenderloin with sweet spicy rub, roasted potatoes and a bacon wrapped fig with goat cheese, all drizzled with Sriracha aioli. And in her signature plating style, Anna included a strawberry and a sprig of rosemary on the plate.
Strawberry rosemary

They served it with a hearty red wine.

Although she couldn't be with us due to a friend in need, Nancy inspired the book Linda chose for the second entree course's inspiration: "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn".

Playing off the many food references in the book, and sharing some of the stories themselves, Linda served a vegetarian Meatball with Coffee Sriracha glaze, and Arugula salad with pumpkin butter vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds and creamy goat cheese, and Smashed potatoes. To accompany it she had coffee stout beer.

Carolyn & David, along with Logan & Zoe presented the final course, a dessert inspired by "The Hunger Games".

We were each presented with a plate with something under a piece of paper with the Mockingjaylogo on it, from the book. We were then invited to light the paper on fire. It turned out to be Flash Paper, resulting in a show stopping presentation to the dish (and lots of fun with fire).

Under the paper was a delicious Goat Cheese Cheesecake with a Pistachio crust and "Nightlock" berries (actually blueberries).

Tonight was also Anna's birthday, which we celebrated with a champagne toast before the meal, and then she received a 'cake' near the end of the meal with a candle to blow out. The cake turned out to be made from mashed potatoes.

It was great hearing about some books I've not read that friends really love, and enjoying a wonderful meal together. This turned into the longest Memento ever, with Dan & I getting home after midnight - a good end to a fun season.

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