Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party!

Last night, more than twenty food bloggers from across the United States and Canada joined us for the first-ever Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party! Each blogger made at least oneUMMC VirtualDinnerPartyGraphic Sidebar 002 Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party! dish or drink from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, blogged about it and posted their comments and photos on our Facebook page in the hours leading up the party. Then, at the appointed hour the guests arrived, cocktails were served and the Twitter party chatter was off and running.

Theresa of the Food Hunters Guide blog (Arizona) brought a few cocktails – the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan and the Rusty Nail. Kara at Tipple Sheet (New York) went with a classic martini. Victoria of Mission Food (New York) made both Bloody Mary recipes from the book (from the legendary ‘21’ Club) and added a twist of her own: “I decided to rim the glasses with celery salt…The celery salt will stick and you’ll not only have a more exciting presentation, but you’ll also get a fun salty kick with every sip.” Great idea!

21 Club Bloody Marys 3 300x225 Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party!

Bloody Mary’s by Mission Food for the Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party

Donna of the Cookistry blog (Colorado) brought Sardi’s Steak Tartar and noted that her butcher thought it was odd that she was buying a tiny beef filet (3 oz.) and a small piece of sirloin (8 oz.). Donna decided to whip up Peggy’s Brandy Alexander moments before the party began. And Priscilla of She’s Cookin’ (California) brought blini and caviar which she declared was “excellent” with a money-saving tip to boot: use salmon caviar in lieu of sturgeon caviar!

Stef from We Heart This (California), who loves “anything retro” went with “the fabulously retro Rumaki.” Girlichef Heather (Indiana) brought Shrimp Curry Butter Canapes explaining that

mimosa 4262 174x300 Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party!

Crabmeat Mimosa prepared for the Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party by Five Star Foodie

the dish came from a favorite Mad Men scene: “A Rockefeller fundraiser was held in the home of Betty and Don and depicted as a typical 1960’s-style cocktail party. Cocktails were sipped. Finger foods were passed. I could close my eyes and imagine myself a fly on the wall.”

Jen from Juanita’s Cocina (Texas) brought the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, a real 60s classic and a favorite of ours. Jen found it “fascinating that the recipes and cookbooks of the time touted products [aluminum foil in this case] as new and revolutionary that we take as commonplace nowadays.” Jen chose this dish because she “adored Sal and still miss him,” referring to Mad Man Sal Romano from Seasons 1-3. Kitty serves Pineapple Upside Down Cake to hubby Sal while watching Jackie Kennedy’s televised White House Tour on Valentine’s Day 1962.

Speaking of Sal, Susan of 30A Eats (Florida) knew actor Bryan Batt who played Sal,

chix1 300x225 Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party!

Trudy’s Roast Chicken prepared for the Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party by the Hyphenated Chef

during her high school days in New Orleans. Susan brought Martinis, Shrimp Cocktail, Stuffed Celery and Deviled Eggs to the party. As the party got rolling, Susan chimed in, “wish this wasn’t a virtual party!” as she broke open a bottle of Veuve to celebrate.

Merlene from Madtini (Ontario, Canada) chose drinks and connected them to some of her favorite Mad Men scenes, including Season 3, episode 3, ‘My Old Kentucky Home in which, “Don Draper makes an Old Fashioned (using rye) for himself and ‘Connie’ (Conrad Hilton) as the two exchange small talk about growing up poor.” Merlene also made the Irish Coffee from a memorable scene between Don Draper and Rachel Menken (Season 1, episode 6, “Babylon”) at the Tea Room of the Pierre Hotel: “Don attempts to charm Rachel who reminds him that they are meeting strictly for business and she only orders coffee. ‘Irish Coffee?’ suggests Don in his typical roguish fashion. ‘Coffee,’ Rachel replies firmly. (I think Don might need an Irish Coffee – there’s a definite chill in the air!),” said Merlene.

It was a great party; we even played virtual Twister (we think Foodhunters Guide might still be playing!) Thanks to everyone who partied like a Mad Man last night and for the dishes they brought!

30A Eats

5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures

Cookistry

Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine

Girlichef

This Girl Walks into a Bar

The Hyphenated Chef

The Groovy Foody

Juanita’s Cocina

•  Madtini

The Mid-Century Menu

Mission Food

The Primlani Kitchen

Tipple Sheet

Thursday Night Dinner

We Heart This

She’s Cookin’

• Culinary Cellar

Sarcastic Cooking


* * *

We’ll be watching and Tweeting during the new season of Mad Men looking for every food and drink related reference, discerning what the characters are ordering, cooking, and eating, and where they’re dining and drinking. We’re sure there will be more food and drink to talk about next Monday, but for now, buckle your seat belts: Season 5 is just days away!

In the meantime, on Tuesday evening we’ll be at The Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans to attend their big Mad Men party. We’re looking forward to meeting Bryan Batt (“Sal Romano”) who’s scheduled to be there! So, look for a special edition of our blog on Wednesday!

Shoot!

A good cookbook should not only please your sense of taste (both literal and aesthetic), but should be a feast for your eyes, too. After all, how food looks has a lot to do with its appeal.  Last week we wrote about some of the misconceptions about the culinary landscape of the 1960s: it wasn’t just a world of frozen vegetables, canned fruit and Jell-O molds. Then, as always, there was fine cuisine to be had that was pleasing to the palate and the eyes. To help make the case, we engaged Nina Gallant, an accomplished food photographer, and Catrine Kelty, an equally accomplished food stylist, to shoot a series of color photographs for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.

IMG 2550 300x225 Shoot!

Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by an amateur.

The smell of pineapple upside down cake was wafting down the driveway as Judy pulled up to Catrine’s house for photo shoot about 9 o’clock one late spring morning. It wasn’t the first cake our intrepid stylist had whipped up that morning; she’d been at it since 5:00 am. Catrine is nothing if not efficient. There isn’t a wasted movement, or a wasted minute, in her carefully choreographed kitchen routines.

As the stylist it was her job to prepare the food for the shoot and to select period-appropriate linens, place settings, and other props so we wouldn’t have, say, ultramodern Swedish utensils in a book trying to evoke the 1960s. Catrine usually has on hand every prop you could imagine for a food shoot, but this was a special collection assembled for our book and she obviously had fun coming up with the pairings for our recipes.

We knew, of course, that we’d have to be selective: in a book with over 70 recipes, you can’t have a full color photo of everyone without breaking the budget. So, Nina, Catrine and Judy went back and forth before the shoot trying to discern which finished dishes would photograph well and whet the appetites of readers. Salads, with their multiple and often colorful ingredients would appeal, but the more complex hearts of palm salad seemed a better choice than, say, the simple (but delicious) wedge salad. And a photo of the avocado and crabmeat mimosa, which isn’t familiar to most people, would be more informative than a classic shrimp cocktail. After debating the virtues and vices of many of the recipes in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook about a dozen dishes were selected for the shoot, with each major food group represented. No, we don’t mean the food groups you learned as a kid in school; we mean the food groups in our book: cocktails, appetizers, salads, main course and desserts.

IMG 2545 300x225 Shoot!

Nina and Catrine setting up a shot.

For those of us to whom photography is a point and shoot enterprise, it’s astonishing to watch the preparation that goes into each shot when you are working with a pro like Nina. She tried to take maximize the use of the natural light in Catrine’s home, but each shot still required framing the shot, trying different linens (there’s always an offending wrinkle in the linen!) and drink ware, finding new colors, and tinkering to eliminate shadows. When to Judy’s eye, everything was perfect, well, Nina and Catrine tried something else. The background martini glass is too large. We need another fork. Let’s move the olive tray. The pears need to re-glazed. There’s always another idea to try and Judy soon began to wonder if it might take a full week to do it right.

IMG 25462 300x225 Shoot!

Lunch!

By noon, many of the dishes were still to be styled and shot, but lunchtime is lunchtime and since Catrine had prepared Gambas au beurre d’Escargot (Shrimp in Snail Butter), blini with caviar, hearts of palm salad, gazpacho, and canapés for the morning shoot, a delicious lunch was ready and waiting (being a cookbook author can be very tough work). To wash it down there was no choice but the Canadian Clubhouse Punch.

For Nina and Catrine it’s all about controlling the color, the light, the texture. But the most admirable control of the day was the self-control of Catrine’s dog, Caper. He’s like a part of the crew, his tail or nose just barely off-camera. But how he restrains himself in the face of a rib-eye in the pan is truly remarkable.

IMG 2553 300x225 Shoot!

Caper doesn’t seem the least bit interested in the rib-eye on the table.

mad men canadian club punch3 233x300 Shoot!

Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by a couple of pros.

Even Don Draper and Roger Sterling had to go back to the office, no matter how many oysters, Martinis and Old Fashioneds they’d had at lunch, and so it was for the photographer and stylist. But with seven photos to shoot after lunch could all thirteen be done by 6 p.m? When that hour rolls around it’s down to the final two: the crabmeat mimosa and Oysters Rockefeller, but the oysters still need to be shucked, a job no one is looking forward to…and Catrine’s book club is arriving in a half hour for a non-Mad Men-style dinner! The last two shots will have to wait until morning.

 

The photo shoot was more work for this dynamic duo than we ever imagined, but the results…well, they speak for themselves and prove that when it comes to taste, a picture can be worth a thousand words.