I laid down and gave out a heavy sigh. Brandt asked why I was so tired. I explained I worked all day on menu planning and a grocery list for Kirk’s Private Dinner. I went on to explain I was doing a Thai menu and it took more research than I normal do for a dinner party. Brandt responded he didn’t recall me ever doing a Thai dinner and I said I hadn’t but I thought it would be fun since they were going to see The King and I after dinner.
Brandt: “Sweet one, I think they’re going to see My Fair Lady“.
Me: “No, Kirk said The King and I“
Brandt: “Well, maybe so but if they’re going to the Orpheum they’re seeing My Fair Lady“.
Pause…recall seeing the My Fair Lady advertisement on TV
Me: “Well, FUCK me”.
Thank god I had taken a Tylenol PM. Otherwise, I would’ve had to get up and re-work the entire menu.
A week prior to this revelation our friend Kirk called requesting a Private Dinner at our loft on South Main. He has a trio of friends who always buy season tickets at The Orpheum and on occasion he’ll buy a ticket and join them. Their rule is whoever drives gets to choose where they have dinner. Additionally, the drivers dinner is covered by the other friends.
Things we know…
…They were seeing My Fair Lady (even as I type this I almost typed the King and I…serious mental block).
…Kirk was included.
…It was Charlotte’s time to drive and she would choose the dinner locale.
…Charlotte asked Kirk for help choosing a place and he responded by asking her to give him a couple of days.
Kirk called me and asked if my schedule allowed me to do a Private Dinner with the understanding they would pay as if they were in a restaurant. It just so happened the date requested was the only day I had available last week.
I managed to morph the Thai menu and grocery list into more of a Haute Cuisine menu. I knew Kirk expected a lavish table setting but I also knew I didn’t need to use my Holland Importer on this job. It was so hot I didn’t even want to drive to the wholesale florist. Luckily between Whitton Farms at Memphis Farmers Market and Fresh Market I was able to pull together a look.
The linens were a combination of gifts and treasures. The runner and napkins are client gifts from the Le Jacquard Francais Collection. The placemats are treasures found at a linen shop the size of a postage stamp just up the way from Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi. Joannie Franklin and I were their best customers that day. The dinner plate serving as a charger is from a shopping trip in New York City. Bucky Farnor and I went to New York in 1995 on a “product development” trip before I joined him designing Christmas decorations in Hong Kong. I found the plates at Wolfman Gold’s Design Salon in Soho. They are handmade Italian ceramic with Wolfman Gold’s mark on the back. Kirk and The Girl’s loved them and Kirk was stunned he’d never seen them. I found them at a time in my life when I truly did not have the money to buy them. Of course, I wanted all they had but only bought 6 and only use them for very special occasions. Speaking of Bucky, the Silver flatware is one of his many lovely gifts as are the votive holders and the Tiffany Crystal Candlesticks. The tall white wine glasses were found on my first trip to Provincetown, MA. I had sixteen of them shipped home but there was a middle of the night unexplained disaster most likely because I had too many glasses on the shelf which resulted in me currently having four. I’ve looked for them for 20 years to no avail. I’m enjoying using the Abigail chartreuse stems for our favorite Summer Rosé. Estelle Coupes held nibbles…mixed nuts, cheese wafers and blue cheese fig bites…to enjoy before the first course.
I thought the look was finished but when I stepped away it didn’t feel intimate. While I had plenty of details it was still a table for four sitting at an eight top (where I’ve seated ten many times). I use a pair of Chinese porcelain, black and white, long neck vases on the table when we aren’t eating. I had put them away but pulled them back over along with a bundle of Lady Amherst pheasant feathers when I realized the ends of the table needed visual weight. With the addition of the two vases and four Tiffany candlesticks…”right this way your table’s waiting”.
The flowers were inspired by Eliza Doolittle’s Covent Garden flower cart. The base is a found object from Fondren Art Gallery, Jackson, MS. It’s a reclaimed piece of chestnut which has been sanded and waxed to highlight its movement. The artist took door hinge pins, cut them at an angle and made four feet so the wood becomes a tray or platter. On top of that was an English Pub Overflow Tray we found in Gruene, TX while visiting friends in New Braunfels. I love copper and I instantly saw it as flower vessel. The tray holds water making the holes perfect for flowers. You can see I found an assortment of flowers which Eliza might have sold on a hot summer day…Sunflowers, Fuji Mums, Hydrangea, Green Ball Dianthus and Asiatic Lilies. Whitton Farms offered Zinnias and Oak Leaf Hydrangea. Fresh lemons filled in to add aroma with corsage pins and baubles accessorizing as flower jewelry…it’s not done ’til it’s overdone!!!
The menu actually changed dramatically with the exception of the proteins which remained since they were already ordered. After I got over the show shock I actually enjoyed creating names for each course derived from song titles from the show as it is one of my favorite musicals. Norma Lambert used Pygmalion for monologues in Speech class my senior year. Then, she took us to see My Fair Lady directed and produced by famed Tupelo High School educator Ruth Liveakos. I was mesmerized by actors who later became friends in college. A few years later I saw the revival starring Rex Harrison at it’s Chicago tryout before going to Broadway. Later, I choreographed the show when teaching at Jones Junior College. It will always be special…even if I do confuse it with a TOTALLY different show…I mean REALLY different…Have Mercy!!! Back to the menu…
Finally…(the only menu item which was fully Thai because I had already ordered it)
Kirk, Charlotte, Lindalu and Mary Anne
By all reports…the house was lovely and a good time was had by all.