A Connecticut Chinese New Year

Last weekend The Supper Model packed up and hit the road, bringing Chinese New Year to snow-blanketed Connecticut. Despite the wintery weather and white-out roads, nothing was going to stop this show from going on!

So in celebration of the year of the dragon, said to be the luckiest of all the 12 years in the lunar calendar, TSM put together a decadent dinner party fit for any king, queen, and dragon a like.

And as New York City gears up to celebrate the arrival of this seminal year with Chinatown’s legendary Lunar Parade and Festival (kicking off tomorrow morning),  I’m bringing you all the decorations, delights, and, of course, duck to prove that this annual holiday is truly a festival for friends, family, and especially foodies

Red lanterns turned this country setting into a distant destination. Gold and red balloons lined the dinning room complimenting the red and yellow votives that cast a glow evoking a sense of an Orient that only Hollywood could create and make popular in the 1940s.

Swirling ribbons and tall candelabras looked like dragon tails were ablaze in the air.

 We used a combination of modern zen china with 1950s spode chargers along with the client’s own collection of peach blosom trapezoid salad plates from the 1940s. It was a fun combination of old and new and really brought the table setting to life at each course.

Mid century silver complimented the red and black close-pin like chopsticks from CB2, while gold placemats by Chilewich jazzed up the red and white hemstitch napkins and tablecloth. A Gold ribbon tied it all together…

The client’s collection of antique Waterford glasses seemed a perfect fit amidst the metallic tinsel firework decor, while custom scrolls for each dinner guest provided interesting table discussion on everyone’s animal year, throughout the course of the evening.

 Gentle sweeping red tulips were a whimsical natural touch and fit nicely on the buzy sparkling table. It provided a contrast that did not compete with the vibrant decorations, and allowed guests to talk easily across the table through out the evening.

A dinner this intimate was made all the more special with a gift from the client’s friend’s winery. Cocktail hour was highlighted by this bold red from the Cachapoal Valley of Chile. The VIK 2008 was a perfect companion for each duck course and held up masterfully against some of the Asian spices. Find out everything you need to know about the VIK holistic winery, and best kept Connecticut secret here.

A feast of fresh and healthy Chinese food was the goal for this menu: Crispy Chinese Duck, Duck Miso Soup, Asian Pear and Spiced Bacon Salad, Shrimp Potstickers and 5-spice Poached Apricots rounded out a meal that screamed Chinese New Year Connecticut-style. For a household where clean-eating is the norm, I found inspiration from the farmers market and from my favorite famous foodie, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Shrimp potstickers with sweet chili dipping sauce were served warm, straight from stove, and brought everyone in from the cold to surround the buffet table.

When it came time to plate the 4 courses we began with a special Duck Miso Soup (find the recipe in tomorrow’s post). On such a cold snowy evening this cleansing and yet hearty soup was a total hit.

Fresh cilantro, mushrooms, and soba noodles reinforced the depth of flavors of this intricate broth. 

Next up: mixed baby greens and herbs with fresh asian pear were tossed in a roasted black garlic vinaigrette and adorned with Sweet and Sour Chinese 5 Spice Bacon bits and crumbles of Danish blue cheese. This cleansed the palate but was hearty enough to stand on its own as a real course!

The main course seemed a welcomed surprise: I decided to bring everyone up from the table to breakup the evening and lured them to the glowing buffet for a modern take on the tradition Pekin Duck Pancake course. We made gluten free sesame pancakes, shaved cucumbers, leeks, carrots, and celery, and sliced fresh avocado to compliment the slow roasted and crisped Chinese Duck. To top it all off we offered homemade hoisin sauce and scallion crema as sauce options.

One guest likened it to a Chinese Taco Bar when describing it to his wife… I think he was quite right!

For dessert we plated vanilla, anise, and 5 spice Poached apricots on crisp puff pastry with bay leaf ice cream and fresh raspberry sauce. This dessert was an Asian take on the Peach Melba, one of the client’s most favorite desserts.

As the night grew colder a blue haze cast over the icy snow across the hill and lake outside.

We watched from the kitchen as night crept in and the room turned wonderful shades of hot red and warm gold… 

and were thankful to have this opportunity to escape cooking in the city for a moment in this wintery wonderland. It was a night only Hollywood could have created, and we are proud to have been apart of it.

Red sky at night…

Sailors, skiers, and self employers take delight!

Happy New Year to our wonderful Connecticut clients and many thanks for a magical evening we’ll never forget.
With love,
Darcy Jones

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