Monday, September 13, 2010

Even if you try, you will never be TOO ready...

...was the big learning coming out of Thursdays at Worth Street, dinner #14. After the experience of dinner #13. where I will say we "lacked organization" to keep this as free spirited as possible (it really was a bit chaotic), we decided to get a head start and do the grocery shopping as well as the dessert, one night before the dinner. This was MONUMENTAL, we were surprised at how ahead of the game we were, we felt we had it all figured out, we were ready to go, our upcoming Thursday dinner would turn out to be impeccable! It had to! We were inviting editor and creator of Tribeca Citizen, who wanted to write about us and had even asked if he could take notes and pictures. The pressure was on, and this time, I wasn’t about to use wine as a resource again (another learning from the last dinner). We also had invited Lee, the director of strategy at 360i, who I had only met once, and his wife, an art historian and now interior designer, who I was going to meet for the first time. The other two guests were good friends of ours, there to ease some of the tension and bring with them a familiar element. So there we were, Felipe and I, 7:30 PM on Thursday, already prepping for the food with dessert done and an appetizer that was almost ready to go. We couldn’t believe how little we had to do and how small the chances were that things could go wrong with the plates. To be completely honest, we had also played it a bit safe with the food, making figs and balsamic vinegar two of the overarching ingredients (how can one go wrong with figs!).

The night started out beautifully. Since we had done much of the prepping, we were able to take the time to enjoy the guests, ease drop on the conversations, contribute on the topics of discussion, and sip on the beautiful bottle of Champagne Lee had brought over. We sat down for dinner at a very reasonable hour for us (9:30!) and opened up the dinner with an appetizer that was small and perfect to open the appetite. Things were going so smoothly, I began feeling we were really starting to get a hang of this, we were discovering the right combination, the right process to go about these dinners, the perfect formula! After making some time between plates, I got up and began picking up the plates so that we could start serving the second course. And as I was almost on the last plate, I turned around to see Felipe wave to me, asking me to come closer. He had a small, mischievous smile on his face so I figured he was just as relaxed as I was, and was just enjoying the night. As I got closer to him, he asked me to get closer, close enough to whisper in my ear. As I leaned over, I heard the words which I was not expecting at all: "Honey, I forgot to put the chicken in the oven". I pulled back, we looked at each other and all of a sudden, we were both caught in an uncontrollably, non stop laugh attack. It was a nervous type of laugh, it was also a laugh of disbelief, how can that have happened! There was so little we had to do, putting the chicken in the oven was if not one of the only cooking activity, the main one for sure. After we were done laughing, I asked Felipe exactly how much more time he needed and he replied 13 minutes, which I calculated would really be about 15 to 20. So after trying to figure out what to do, we decided to just be open and honest about it. We held hands as we walked to the table, where all our guests were wondering what in the world was going on with us. Felipe sat down to deliver the confession and began with - “we got something to tell you”, which scared everyone for a moment and also made everything that came afterwards so not a big deal (good strategy Felipe!). People cheered and were happy to keep drinking and talking.

The chicken turned out tasting delicious and the night ended up being a remarkable one filled with great company, great wine and food, and great stories. We left to go to Mexico early the following morning, and the chicken became the topic of conversation. What turned out to be an ordinary stuffed chicken made it into conversations overseas, lucky chicken and lucky us!

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