Yesterday was an exciting, if exhausting, day : I went and helped my friend Keda Black, a fellow cook and writer, with the creation of a buffet for the opening of an art show, at a gallery named La Périphérie. This gallery is a really great place, roomy and bright, setup in a rehabilitated workshop just outside of Paris. The show features illustrations by Carlotta, an illustrator who works for French and Japanese magazines. The theme for the show was Pink, so I'll give you three guesses as to what the idea for the buffet was!
The menu Keda had thought up was wonderful : pink tartlets of leek and blue cheese, or hazelnut paste and beetroot (a little beetroot juice in the dough works wonders), there were three different kinds of dips (white bean, carrot or beetroot based) with different dippers (fennel, pink chips, or pink radishes), which we served in little glasses and ramequins, there were cute and delicious mini-loaves of herb and cheese bread ; there were mini-madeleines flavored with rose water syrup and frosted mini carrot cakes, there were strawberry jellies and glasses of berry trifle with whipped cream. A little pink in everything, and all of this washed down with champagne of course.
Martine Camillieri, who co-directs the gallery, is also very talented with crafts and decoration. She has a particular flair for turning everyday objects into colorful and witty ornaments, and she took care of the buffet installation itself, using pink and cute things with style. She also thought up a clever setup with glass vases of different shapes, which we filled with goodies and stacked up : as the food was consumed, we removed the empty dishes, uncovering yet more things to eat and allowing people to move from savory to sweet, seamlessly.
Since all of this was homemade, with love and care and attention at that, it turned out to be a lot of work! Keda had been at it for the two previous days, and I joined her to help accomplish the myriad of little tasks that remained.
It was a wonderful spring day and the kitchen at the back of the gallery is a dream to work in : a huge oven, a retro Smeg fridge, ample room and plenty of sunlight from the little courtyard. Keda and I worked in unison, and the general atmosphere of excitement and anticipation was very pleasant. There was always a friendly little crowd around the kitchen, keeping us company, helping or chatting and gobbling up what we couldn't use for the buffet ("I'll help adjust the seasoning!" and "Oh look! Isn't this mini-madeleine a teeny bit overcooked?").
The evening turned out to be a success with a lot of happy visitors, the buffet was lovely and we got plenty of compliments on the food. I also chatted with very interesting people, whom I hope to meet again soon. Definitely an experience to reproduce!
Update : More pics in this little gallery...
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