Yesterday I attended a Samhain dinner party titled Masquerade Secret Supper hosted by my friend Charlotte and her roommate Ada. It was oh so lovely and delicious, and I hope you will find it as inspiring as I did!
It was a fundraiser dinner hosted at their home, and I could have not imagined that they would have transformed their living room into an intimate, restaurant-like dining room! It was so beautifully decorated - fall leaves and maple seed "helicopters" on the table, with tiny carved pumpkin lamps, a mobile of paper-cut houses with flickering candle within each; and a fabric collage of animal-shaped shadows spread on the wall (Charlotte is a textile artist among her many talents).
It was very dimly lit, so I could not take any photos whatsoever of the food (which is a shame, but also was a very nice break from taking photos of every piece of amazing food I experience, which can be not only tiresome, but also take away from the experience). So instead, I stole the hand-written menu from my table and you can use your vivid imagination to picture yourself how each course looked and tasted!
- edible artichoke centrepiece with tappenades and fresh-baked bread
- Butternut squash soup with pear, blue cheese cream and red wine reduction drizzle
- Roasted root pie with herbed chevre a la mode
- Braised tender lamb in pomegranate sauce
- Massaged kale, beet and pumpkin seed salad with lemon-tahini dressing
- Chocolate pumpkin cheesecake
- Assorted choux a la creme (chai spice, chocolate hazelnut, rosemary salted caramel) with apple fennel croquettes
- Crisp Autumn Night: a purifying potion of rosemary, peppercorn and vanilla infused gin, with tonic and simple syrup poured over a caramelized pear.
- Red wine
- Virgin cocktails available
The appetizers were flavourful and appetizing, the soup of butternut squash and pear delicate, flavourful and something I definitely want to try at home (I got all the ingredients!) and by the time I finished the main course of harvest root pie and kale salad, I felt lucky the choux a la creme (cream puffs) were tiny and delicate - because I barely had any room left. These three tasted amazing, but my palate was even more tantalized by the little bites of fennel & apple croquettes (which were slices of fennel and apple atop buttery and soggy sable). My favourite of the three was the hazelnut & chocolate creme one. And I am glad I got a couple of bites of the pumpkin & chocolate cheesecake, which was more of a cream layer cake, with chocolate wafer base, pumpkin and creamy cheese filling, and a fudgy chocolate icing decorated with pomegranate seeds.
But my favourite of all was actually the "Crisp Autumn Night" cocktail - an imaginative brew that was accompanied by the instructions you see in the photograph. It was made of gin infused with vanilla, pepper and rosemary, served with tonic water, caramelized pear slice, and, lo and behold - two ice "stirring sticks" - one with a greenish hue (cucumber? rosemary??) and the other embedded with pomegranate seeds. It was such a treat and if the rest of my Celtic year is as complex and satisfying, I might just have to try to brew it myself next Halloween... If I can wait that long!
And if you can't view this image, here's what the little note said:
"In the Witches' wheel of the year, Samhain (pronounced "waawen"), which usually falls at the end of October, is the time when the veils between the world of the conscious and rational, and the unconscious and un-rational are thin. It is also the New Year - a timei to reflect on and let go of the old in order to make room for the burgeoning and new.
This potion was brewed with the magival intention to bring this symbolic reflection, release, and invitation into a drinkable form. This is a spell in a beverage. Its makers invite you to use it either as a delicious un-magical cocktail or as a cleansing and renewing elixir by following these steps:
1. Ground yourself by taking a deep breath.
2. Remember this previous year - from last Samhain up until now. Be gentle and forgiving in your review.
3. Recall the things you are ready to let go of, to do without, to interrupt, to be done with, and blow them into your drink. Literally.
4. The drink's magic is its ability to purify, cleanse, and transform your energies and offerings.
5. Now take a taste, and set your intention for the year to come - imagine abundance, friendship, self-love, dancing, brimming creativity, and the energy to see all your projects and ideas through.
Anything is possible when you start the New Year in the Enchanted Forest...