Edward is old school and could give Martha Stewart tips on entertaining.
Let’s Ask Edward: Someone brings wine to your event but the wine is totally wrong for the meal. What is a good host to do?
Edward Says: Put the guest’s name on it, store it away, and invite him or her back when you are making something that will pair perfectly with the wine.
Here are the other entertaining and etiquette tips that I gleaned from Edward:
- Keep it simple.
- Always have demi-glace in your fridge.
- Warm your dinner plates in the oven, even for leftovers.
- Always have a chilled martini awaiting your guest.
- Send personal, hand written notes.
- When giving a book as a gift, hand write an inscription on the title page.
- Embrace the ritual of the occasion.
- Treat guests like family and family like guests.
- Have Ella Fitzgerald on the turntable.
Vincent begins the book as a disheveled middle-aged woman trying to adjust to a new job where editors send emails about her stories with “WTF” in the subject line.
She is trying to adapt to life on Roosevelt Island (a place that once housed prisons and insane asylums).
She is trying to deal with her mother’s recent passing.
And, her marriage is falling apart.
By chance and fate, she meets Edward (an elderly father of a friend) who teachers her much about food, life, and “unexpected friendship.”
With Edward’s friendship, advice and assistance, Vincent is reawakened. By Chapter 11 she has moved back to Manhattan and is hosting her own soirees where guests build paper airplanes and launch them off her building’s roof, ala Saint-Exupéry. Oh, and she has the quintessential “little black dress” thanks to Edward’s style sense.
Edward makes a lot of food as he entertains, all without recipes or cookbooks.
“It’s just cooking, darling,” when I asked why he didn’t use cookbooks. “I don’t ever think of what I’m doing in terms of recipes. I just don’t want to bother looking at recipes. To me that’s not cooking—being tied to a piece of paper.” (10)
Because of the lack of written recipes in Dinner with Edward, Vincent had to be pretty descriptive with the food that Edward whipped up. These are the dishes that spoke to me:
Apricot jam and cognac flambé over popovers.
Scrambled Eggs ala Edward (and then later ala Isabel with red wine vinegar and feta)
Prunes soaked in Early Grey tea
Steaks marinated in balsamic
But since Edward is the host-with-the-most and never lets his guests linger long without a cocktail, I had to make this guest-pleasing, well-chilled drink.
- ice (crushed and cubed)
- well-chilled rocks glass
- 1 finger of bourbon
- tonic water
- squeeze of lime
- splash of Pastis*
- Place crushed ice in a rocks glass and place in freezer while you assemble the ingredients for this cocktail.
- Remove glass from freezer and discard crushed ice.
- Fill glass with 1 finger of bourbon.
- Add some cubes of ice, add lime juice and fill almost to the top with tonic water.
- Add a splash of Pastis to the top. Serve.
Yield: 1 cocktail
*Pastis is an anise-flavored liquor from France. Finding none in my liquor store, I settled on Anisette, another anise-flavored beverage. (Pastis has more of a licorice flavor.) For another variation, substitute absinthe and make what Edward called “A Green Fairy.”
Vincent writes that this wasn’t her favorite concoction of Edward’s; she enjoyed his icy-cold martinis. Although, she did grow to enjoy all of Edward’s beverage creations: “they became a necessary elixir, like the pink penicillin that my mother forced on me as a bronchitis-plagued child. And I drank it in with the advice that Edward doled out during dinner, which often stretched over three or even four courses” (55).
I searched the internet using “bourbon pastis cocktail” and came up with nothing like Edward’s. If you know if this has a history, please comment. I started to garnish this cocktail with a lime wedge but ultimately thought Edward might think that a bit gauche.
Edward once remarked that “Real cooking requires devotion.” So does friendship. We should all be so lucky as to count a wise Edward in our circle of friends.
You can see my review for Dinner with Edward at Goodreads.
Aside: The Hubs was skeptical when I bought the Anisette. “That will taste like licorice, right?” he asked dubiously. After I presented him with the inaugural Edward’s Cocktail, he declared it delicious and a great “sipping” cocktail.
Thanks to our hostess-with-the-mostess, Claudia at Honey from Rock, for hosting this round of Cook the Books. You can still post a recipe inspired by Dinner with Edward up until the end-of-the day Friday, March 31, 2017. Anyone can join by reading the current selection, preparing a dish inspired by its contents and writing about it. If you are new to Cook the Books Club, you can find out more at our link or the Guidelines page.
I am hosting the next round for April/May with Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin (2015).
Deadline: May 30, 2017. Look for an announcement post April 1 at Cook the Books Club.
I’m also linking up with February’s Foodie Reads…
…and Novel Foods.