“I write – what more is there to say? How shall I add to my confession? I know it’s in your power today To punish me with your derision. Yet had compassion a part to play And not abandon me to fate.” This is a quote from the love letter which the young heroine Tatyana wrote to Eugene Onegin, in the historic, classic novel in verse by one of the greatest Russian poets of all times, Alexander Pushkin . The novel was made into an opera and it’s new production served as the opening of the 2013-2014 season which is always a Gala. This Opening Night Gala at the Metropolitan Opera served as the inspiration for this menu. To celebrate the night, we decided to have a pre-opening soirée with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres at our apartment with our closest guests for the occasion. Pushkin, who himself fought in as many as twenty-nine duels, masterfully describes the duel between Onegin and Lensky, an aspiring young poet and the protagonist who was killed in an emotional, tense scene. It feels like Pushkin portrays the characters in his novel with great sarcasm except for the main heroine Tatyana, a young woman, who’s character he carefully nurtures through the plot and later transforms from the melancholy country girl (albeit a noble) into the glitzy St. Petersburg aristocrat. In the last act, when Onegin sees Tatyana in all her glory married to Prince Gremin, he is smitten by her beauty and sophistication and writes her a letter demanding to see her, similarly to what Tatyana did years ago after their meeting at the countryside estate. It all ends in a dramatic rendezvous between the two, where Tatyana rejected Onegin even after admitting that she still loved him. A true poetic tragedy!
Photographed by Gary Flom Host a perfect cocktail party featuring a selection of my favorite easy-to-make, elegant canapés and hors d’oeuvres befitting the opening night at the Opera. Canapés are ideal for entertaining at home, this small single-bite food, like my Quail Eggs with Caviar Roe and Dill Spring take no time to assemble but look very festive for the guests. Small bites of Pickled Salmon with Cucumber balls and Mint marinated simply with Asian flavors like rice wine vinegar and fresh ginger served as a delicious start for the exciting night at the Met. Verrines of Greek salad were packed with flavors. Serving a starter in a Verrine, which literally means “protective glass”, is a popular trend that originated in France and has already conquered the U.S. food scene. Verrines are fun and have endless options to exercise your inspiration and imagination. Get creative and serve your favorite savory salad in a glass with an aperitif at your next dinner party or to finish the evening with the small verrines of intriguingly layered Tiramisu or Panna Cotta desserts. I like using vegetables when serving small bites. The rainbow of thinly sliced strips of bell peppers resembles tagliatelle. The vegetables can be assembled ahead of time, simply blanch the strips of bell pepper in a salted boiling water for 10 seconds and drain well. Let them marinate in the orange juice mix which allows the flavors to develop. Garnish with the few springs of lavender and croutons for a crunch. Some finishing touches before I slip into my gown….. Pop few of these little delicacies into your mouth and taste the caviar bursting with saltiness complimented by the mild flavors of the quail egg. Wash down with a glass of bubbly Champagne and enjoy the full sensation. The art of terrine making is actually easy using my recipe of Prosciutto di Parma Terrine with Mozzarella, Fresh Figs & Basil. Impress your guests with a slice of artfully layered ingredients of the terrine and its savory rich flavors. My proud moment– Prosciutto di Parma Terrine with Mozzarella, Fresh Figs & Basil is a savory, visually stunning dish. As a perfect accompaniment, use a simple arugula salad, drizzled with some extra-virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper if desired. Voila! The well-recognizable orange label of Veuve Cliquot Champagne filled our guests’ glasses. A sterling silver tray with detailed rim dates back to mid-19th century and was loaned by one of my favorite antique store in the NYC, The Emporium, Ltd. served as a perfect tray for delicate Champagne flutes. The food is served; now I can enjoy a glass of Champagne and share a laugh with our guests. We all love technology; here is a short synopsis of the upcoming opera from the iPad– the unrequited love, inescapable drama, duel and tragic death. That is so Russian! This novel in verse is enhanced with beautiful illustrations of the major scenes and the famous profile of the author adorns the cover. This book is one of the treasure of world literature and is much beloved, and still studied extensively at schools in Russia and Ukraine. The quotes, like the one I used as an opening to this post, are still widely used today. Yet, this novel largely remains unknown in the States. The Metropolitan Opera was broadcasting the live performance in HD outdoors in both the Lincoln Plaza Center and Times Square for people to enjoy. My photographer Anya looked gorgeous in her black gown. The new opera production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin made a lasting impression with its theatrical performance by Russian soprano Anna Netrebko as Tatyana and Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as a young aristocrat Onegin. With its powerful beautiful music, full of drama and emotional trepidation this opera remains one of my favorite.