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Shelf Life (A Genius, On-the-Fly, Fairway-Sourced Dinner Party)

I have millions of rules for the kitchen. Unlike other parts of my life where I am a happy anarchist and break all the rules all the time, the kitchen is a palace of purpose.

Of course, it should be noted that all the rules in my kitchen were made up by and are enforced by me, so its not like I’m living in a foreign dictatorship or anything. The regime is self made, and self imposed.

RULE number one: no externally prepared food allowed except for dessert. (dessert requires too many rules to make correctly but that is another story entirely).

So when I got cajoled at the VERY LAST minute to have a dinner party because my friends could not agree on a restaurant for tonight, I found myself in a state of annoyance and after reviewing the restaurant conversation in my head, also a place of paralysis. 

Each of my friends has particular dietary needs. They range from the aesthetic, to the gastronomic, to the health imposed, to the bizarre.

Lets go to that place that has snake.” Arnie

“No I don’t want to go there. They cook stuff they find walking around when the lights are off. Lets go to Vermillion. I like the chairs.” Veronica

“Its my turn. Everyone said we would go to Doshi’s Dish next time and I am living in the present so that means now.” Vishnu (aka roger)

“Well we’re not. Because I want a decent wine list and I can’t eat places where it stinks of that wheatgrass stuff…I’ll go there with you for lunch some time when I’m in a coma but not dinner.”  Marla

“Why don’t we just come to my house?”

What the hell made me say that?

The chorus: that would be fantastic/awesome/what time?

I had to do math now.

How long would it take me to look up some recipes, settle on what I thought would be tasty, fun,  wonderful for everyone, put the vision together, figure out the ingredients, and most importantly,  get to FAIRWAY??

Where else could I possibly  go under these pressured circumstances?…Just wish they sold furniture…but whatever…

I decided on a fun and delicious meal that would look great, taste better and let everyone feel that there was something special on the table for THEM.

I was going to do a few different foccacias –both vegan and non. The only problem was…there was no way i could either shop, nor schlep nor COOK all that i would have to in order to have my makeup on and apron off in two hours.

I would definitely need some shelf help.

And given the high expectations of my know it all friends, I confess, I  made a beeline for a sure thing– the Fairway foccacia–this was the perfect foundation on which to build both the vegan and non vegan culinary circus that would be this evening around our table.

For the non vegans, I covered a regular tomato and garlic focaccia with  a layer of fresh tomato and  a layer of fresh Fairway mozzarella, which I put in the oven until the cheese melted and then topped with room temperature prosciutto di parma, over which I  scattered baby arugula and ripped basil. Not bad.

I made a separate recipe without the cheese or meat….added more t

omatoes, a layer of sauteed garlic spinach, to

pped with a heap of creminis seared in a hot pan…and garnished with the fresh arugula. (Good thing I made two of these as the non vegans were digging in with gusto and pretending shock when told that they were indeed vegan preparations….oh, I thought vegans could only eat cardboard and apples.)
As a salad side, I baked three types of pears, cut and fanned from the cornucopia that is the Fairway farm..aka the produce section. They were one sweeter than the next and provided their own syrupy dressing from cooking in nothing but kosher salt and Fairway lambrusco vinegar.

I  arranged  them on a large platter of lovely large leaves of butter lettuce, radicchio and endive. So delicious that still no one  pointed a knife at Vishnu to suggest he was responsible for a dish devoid of meat or cheese.

Dessert? Easy. An array of incredibly outrages FAIRWAY cheeses from the Steve Jenkins world o’cheese, figs, sorbet, strawberries, VEGAN cookies, rich FAIRWAY chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

So yes…

Here’s to breaking rules, even your own. But the trick is, if you’re gonna break them, you better have a good back up plan. Nobody can do it all hershelf…not even the galivantor.

See you somewhere soon. Maybe even Fairway.

I’ll be by the foccacia.

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