Last year, me and one of my neighbors, who is also Italian and a good friend, agreed to be auctioned off at a big Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Fundraiser in Pittsburgh. We promised to prepare an authentic, multicourse Feast of the Seven Fishes Dinner for up to 10 people along with appropriately paired wines for each course. The dinner would be served in both of our historic homes across the street from each other, and we would do all the cooking. Both Bill and I have reputations for putting on one of the best Seven Fish Feasts every Christmas Eve, and we have been doing it in our respective homes for more than 35 years. So we have the recipes, the experience, the know how, and the energy–no problem.
At the fundraising event that Sprng Saturday evening, the auction bidding for our Feast began and mounted a crescendo that near the end included two bidders that had ‘raised’ the price to nearly $15,000. Bill and I are aghast with delight and apprehension while this is all going on!! The auctioneer, a sly and experienced operator, saw an opportunity to double the benefit for the Foundation, and asked from the podium if we would be willing to do the Feast twice, assuming both bidders were willing to ‘win’ the bid at $15,000 each!! We responded like anyone answering a question like that in front of 1000 people–Of Course We Would!! The gavel came down–“sold to the winning bidders–thank you and good luck Lou and Bill!!”. We couldn’t wait to cross the room from our respective dinner tables to give each other a high five!! About an hour later when we were a bit more sober, we crossed the room again with a different question: “‘what the hell will we serve to someone who just paid $15,000 for a dinner for 10?!!” The pressure was on.
Bill and I and our wives, who kicked in to help out in a very big way, spent weeks digging through and comparing recipes, talking, emailing, agonizing and finally settling on the menu which was served to the first winning bidder last summer. (The second bidder will get their dinner this summer). While this menu has many of the traditional items from the Christmas Eve Feast using recipes from both our family traditions, it has many other of our favorite house recipes we knew our guests would love.
It took us three days to shop for ingredients and wine, and the preparations and cooking began 4 days before the event. Our wives were specatacularly tolerant of our anxiety and last minute crises, and they were incredible in the kitchen at their own recipe contributions. After the evening was over, we heard many of our guests proclaiming Bill and I as the Kings of the Sea.
Enjoy the Menu…and I’d love to hear your comments.
Summertime Festival of Seven Fishes
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Gli Antipasti–A Taste of Christmas in July
Fritto Misto di Pesce—Flash Fried Calamari, Smelts, Shrimp served with lemon
Baccala Matecato—Freshened and Poached Salt Dried Cod Fish, dressed with parsley, garlic and EVOO
Cozze e Vongole Meuniere—Clams and Mussels steamed in shallots, butter and white wine
Acciughe e Cipoline–Carmelized Onions with olives and anchovies
Gazpacho Martini with choice of Poached Shrimp or Jumbo Lump Crabmeat
Moletto Vino Spumante Prosecco Treviso—Motta di Livenza, Itally
Trenette con Aragoste—Handmade Trenette Pasta with Fresh Mint and Basil Pesto, Arugula and Lobster Parmesan-Reggiano Alfredo Sauce
Bastianich Sauvignon “B”—2009—Fruill-Venizia, Italy
Swordfish alla Favarella presented with Green Olive, Rosemary Buerre Blanc
Fresh Salmon Filets grilled with garden herbs presented with Salsa Verde
Fagiolini al Pomodoro–Steamed Locally Grown Green Beans dressed with Tomato, Basil and Garlic
Cavolo Verde—Sauted Cabbage
MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Chardonnay—2007—Sonoma Coast, CA
Castello Di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico—2005—Siena-Tuscany, Italy
Romaine Lettuce, Red Onions, Grapefruit Sections, Gala Apples with house made
Danish Bleu Balsamic Vinaigrette
Fresh Baked House Made Ciabatta
Zabaione con Limone–Lemon Tapioca Custard
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte—White Chocolate espresso with Hazelnut Praline
Crostata de Chocolate e Raspeberry—Fresh Raspberries, bittersweet chocolate and toasted almonds
Ricotta Aubilocche Torte—Ricotta Cheese and Apricots in pastry
IPSUS, Duca di Castelmonte, Passito di Pantalleria—2007—Trapani, Italy