Here's a recent menu used for an event I worked on, along with miscellaneous notes:
Roasted Yukon gold potatoes filled with creamy asiago cheese & basil aioli-I keep meaning to ask the Chef, let's call him Chef Handsome, at what point in the prep does he sprinkle crack cocaine on the potatoes. They are so addictive, guilty staff members have been spotted popping them in their mouths as soon as they come out of the oven. The creamy garlicky goodness is worth any and all burns.
Grilled shrimp brochettes with tarragon, saffron and orange-No skewer soaking, which surprised me. There weren't any splinter complaints or sightings, though. Chef Handsome had me blanch then chop the orange zest, to make it more palatable and tasty. My fingers and nails became dirty from cleaning and pulling the tarragon, but the kitchen smelled wonderful and aromatic. While I enjoyed the layered flavors, another staff member poo-pooed it because of the saffron. Silly her.
Seared beef tenderloin brochettes with a red wine glaze-Tender, succulent, medium rare beef was a particular favorite of the male guests.
Summer veggie soup topped with a Parmesan crouton-NEVER put purple cabbage in a soup. It will quickly erase any and all evidence of golden, beautiful stock, and perfectly diced vegetables. Instead, you'll have a grayish-purple goopy looking mess that is impossible to fix or cover up. A crouton is only so big, you know. Put that purple cabbage to better use in slaws and garnishes.
Ceasar Salad-Although this was a zesty, fresh looking dish, many folks only nibbled on it. Chef Handsome was concerned, but I think the problem wasn't the salad. Maybe a serving of that purplish vegetable soup left them feeling like they'd already had enough veggies and good stuff? Tough to say.
Grilled New York steak with grilled asparagus and red onion, and mashed potatoes. Chef Handsome used white and green asparagus spears, and each guest received five total. Then came a pinch of the carmelized onions, and a pretty scoop of perfect mashers. Chef Handsome shared his trick for light, fluffy, perfect mashed potatoes, "Save some of the potato cooking water. Use that instead of stock. You won't need as much butter, and the water will provide saltiness." Mmmmmm.
I asked, "Do you let the potatoes sit for fifteen minutes, to cool before mashing?" Another Chef I know is adamant that that is one crucial step for texture and flavor alike.
"Yes," he said. I will repeat his potato water trick soon.
The steak was such a hit, that one female guest wandered into the kitchen, looking around. With a somewhat regal air, she asked Chef Handsome, "Where are the rest of the steaks? I'm looking for food for my dog. He's sick. Poor thing. Is there a steak I can take home for him, on a plate? Or in a doggie bag?" I thought to myself, "Lady, you've totally got priority issues. WTF?" Even though we had a handful of leftover steaks cooling and hidden under foil, Chef Handsome mumbled some sort of apology and shrugged. I was so glad he was saving those steaks for the clients. They needed to go to humans, not sick dogs. The regal woman shifted her weight and looked around some more and said, "Oh. Well. It was really good steak. He would've loved some." No doubt.
Chocolate cake with summer raspberries. Caffe Trieste Coffee & assorted teas. Steak, mashed potatoes, and this chocolate cake could easily pass as my last meal on Earth. While I'd go with a huge smile on my face, I am so over raspberries or mint as a garnish. However, there may be a dearth of options. Aside from tuiles and mini cookies, it's tough to come up with other dessert garnish options, eh?
Bar Menu: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. Sammuel Smith's and Corona. Crystal Geyser and Pellegrino. Coke, Diet Coke, and 7-Up. Sorry I didn't note the producers and vintages on the vino.