Something very special happened this past Thursday and I’ve been waiting a few days to tell you about it because it’s so big and interesting and exciting that simply posting it on a Friday would have been bad showmanship. No, I waited until tonight–Sunday night–so you could start your Monday with this dazzling account of a true, exotic, magnificent Chinese feast prepared by my friend Elyne at the home of our friend Brian. Here they are making wontons:
Yes, it started with the making of wontons. I arrived at 5 pm, as per Elyne’s instructions, so I could watch the process. Elyne purchased wonton wrappers from Chinatown (I missed the Chinatown shopping spree) and prepared a mixture of shrimp, water chesnuts and scallions that were then spooned into the wrappers and folded, wonton style, as documented in the feature film “Elyne’s Chinese Feast” which you can view at the end of this post. The wontons were placed in a huge pot of boiling water and after only a few moments they floated to the top, we scooped them out and here they are:
Yes, they look a little bit like brain matter but they were utterly delicious. In fact, they were so delicious that guests at the party stuffed their faces with them so enthusiastically, they had no appetite for the rest of the meal! (Whole dishes were scratched from the menu, including a whole fish that was to be cooked in a wok–(this was a huge disappointment, I was totally psyched to see that)–and an eggplant tofu dish (that one I wasn’t so sorry about)).
Let’s examine the dishes that WERE made…
Stir fried duck served in endive (you can’t see the endive here and Elyne acknowledges that endive isn’t particularly Chinese, but they worked terrifically well–call it fusion, if you must):
Spicy chicken with cashews (not photographed)
Shitaki mushrooms and bok choy:
(The mushrooms were stewed for two hours in a mixture of vegetable stock and sugar that came from what looked like a sugar rock, I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I don’t know it–sue me.)
With dessert, we drank my contribution: Litchi wine that I purchased from a wine store with Asian characters on 23rd street near the subway.
I love lychees–I think they’re my favorite fruit (though my friend X, who shall stay unnamed, rather uncouthly suggests that they look like—and prepare to be offended—mini-abortions)–and this wine captures their subtlety and perfume without being overpowering. I think everyone enjoyed it.
Finally, Elyne prepared rice dumplings in cane sugar syrup (that’s what it was, cane sugar, editor: please fix that in the mushroom paragraph):
Look at Elyne with her tray and her rice dumplings in cane sugar syrup, isn’t she adorable? Let’s give her a round of applause and then watch her in the guaranteed smash hit “Elyne’s Chinese Feast” featuring the hit single “Slow Boat To China” as performed by Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby.
Thanks Elyne and Brian for a fantastic meal!