Saturday, February 7, 2009

November 3, 2008 - Roberto's England - Vol. 2, Ch. 6


I promised you 2 updates last week. Clearly, I did not follow through on my promise. But I can explain.

I was too tired after the show on Thursday (more on this later) and ended up at a party on Friday (more too on this later). That explains the lack of update 1. The subsequent update is a no-show because I got back from Cardiff early enough to write a log, but I needed to write and send off a review. Which brings us to present day. And so instead of 2 mid-sized entries, you will once again get a huge one. Or perhaps I'll split this entry into two as it was originally meant to be. We'll see when we get there, shall we?

First things first. I will start this recollection with coverage of the French dinner I made for my fellow grad journalists. I worked from home on Wednesday, so I was not pressed for time. My menu, for you are surely insanely curious, consisted of the following:

1) A mushroom and ham melange (Epicurious simply called it "sauteed mushrooms with ham," but I felt it needed a better name). I sauteed large button mushrooms with shallots, garlic, chives, porcini mushrooms, and smoked ham. This dish was especially popular because my fellow journalists are also fellow mushroom lovers.

2) Steak with a mushroom-wine sauce. The sauce was the difficult part because my dad suggested a roux-based pan sauce, something I've never attempted before. I simply seasoned the steaks with peppercorns, cooked them to medium-rare, and set them aside. I sauteed some mushrooms in that same skillet with garlic and then set them aside. I then made a roux (a combination of flour and butter for you non-cooks out there), to which I added the meat juices from my plate of cooked steaks and some Bordeaux. Wine sauce reduction nearing it's end, I added some thyme and put the mushrooms back into the pan. This sauce was then poured over the steaks.

3) A simple bistro salad with a homemade spicy lemon-mustard vinaigrette. I made the dressing by combining English mustard with lemon juice, black pepper, parsley, basil, and olive oil. Pour it over the greens and you got yourself a salad with a kick to it.

Now, we normally just bring whatever to these weekly dinners. I, however, decided to make my French feast right and chose to be a little more organized. I assigned two people to bring French red wines, one person to bring baguettes and a cheese, one person to bring a dessert, and one person to be the wild card and bring in a surprise item to compliment the French theme (she ended up preparing artichokes).

Once again, being all about setting the mood, I made playlist of French music to have playing in the background.

With the exception of the salad, I was worried about dinner because I had never made these dishes before. Luckily, everyone was completely satisfied and the dinner was a total success. Let's see the future hosts top my dinner! ;p

Let us leave the topic of food and move on to Thursday night. This was a night I will always remember. You always remember your first. In this case, it was my first press night. I was initially only accompanying my boss to the press night for La Cage aux Folles and not actually working. I got an e-mail from her the morning of, however, and was told that I should just work from home because she was sick. More importantly, that she would not be attending the premiere of La Cage and that I should go on her behalf. I, Roberto Hernandez, future theatre critic for The New Yorker, would be attending my first press night as a representative of the press!

It's a bit difficult to describe the mix of elation and trepidation that I felt as the event drew closer. I arrived dressed to impress, a feat I'm not too shabby at. *pops collar caddishly* It was certainly an event! All the big name theatre critics were there, as well as some celebrities (I saw Hal Prince and there was some tennis star) and the gay community (I heard a lot of "Hey, boys!" and "Oooh, girl. You're bad!" and "Oh, my god. I am loving your outfit." I was amidst a crowd of stereotypes). I picked up my ticket from the press box and was told that all the critics would be meeting in the downstairs bar for drinks. I nearly fell over at this point. I was giddy and I surely looked it. All nervousness had vanished and all that was left was pure, unadulterated excitement.

The show was incredible. This revival of La Cage featured an amazing cast. I was even blessed with an utterly enjoyable production. During the interval I went downstairs to meet "my colleagues" for drinks. They had a table set up for us with various drink options: vodka with mixers, red wine, and white wine. It was at this point that I wished my boss had come along after all because the private party was a collection of cliques. They all knew each other and quickly formed little groups. I knew no one, so I had no "in" with any of the groups. I must have looked like I didn't belong, drinking my wine and standing by a corner. I really should have matched names to faces before going to at least be able to recognize the people whose reviews I frequently read. Oh well. A small downside, but it was such a thrill rubbing elbows with London's theatre critics.

It was a night to remember. For one night, I was a legitimate theatre critic.

And now I whisk you away from the world of theatre to a night of unexpected festivities. The school had organized a Halloween party at a club in Notting Hill. I had not planned to go, but it turned out that I had ordered a ticket back in the summer. So I had this ticket that i planned on letting go unused, but Brittany talked me into going. I argued that I didn't even have a costume, but neither did she. I eventually agreed to go with her to the party and we thought up some costumes. I lent her some clothes and she went as a jockey. I put on some business attire and made sure to look very disheveled, with tie askew and the linings on my pockets out (Hoover flags). What was I dressed up as? A banker.

The night was actually a lot of fun. Free drinks and good dance music. We danced the night away until 1am or so. I probably would have just stayed in and watched a movie if I had not gone to the party, so I'm glad that I decided to go at the last minute because I really enjoyed myself. I may not have been the soberest of people when I awoke four hours later to start getting ready for the Cardiff trip, but it was a sign of good times.

It seems we have reached the moment to decide whether to continue with my tale or to continue this in a separate entry.

I'll continue later. May the suspense be with you.


- R

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