Some people really know how to do it up right. Take 35-year old John Jordan for instance. Son of Tom Jordan, founder of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, CEO John has clearly inherited his family's DNA for hosting.
Premiere event planners say that a really great party starts with the invitation and clearly, John Jordan knows that. I'm usually not a big fan of costume parties, but when I received a special edition DVD of 'Titanic' wrapped in lace and tied with pearls I just couldn't resist.
The party theme? The 'Last Dinner on the Titanic,' period dress requested. I found my grandmother's debutante dress (c.1914 - close enough) and my mother's mink stole (again, close enough in terms of ladies' garb worn on April 14, 1912). I bought opera-length gloves online, and packed my bags for California.
And what a party it was! John Jordan is the quintessential host, and the evening's menu, based on what might have been served to first-class guests on the White Star Line's 'unsinkable ship,' was magnificent.
Jordan's executive chef, Todd Knoll, served up an Edwardian-inspired feast starting with a mélange of two 19th-century classics: Potage Saint-Germain and Lobster Thermidor. Chef Knoll's recipe, below, is perfect for New Year's Eve. Or, cut the recipe by half and serve for a romantic tête á tête any time of year.
Wine suggestion: Jordan Chardonnay
'Recreating what is essentially a spring soup in cold weather can present a challenge. Fortunately we freeze some of our garden's peas in all of their April glory and save them for cold and rainy days. Good-quality frozen peas are a fine alternative. This soup can be served hot or chilled; the lobster is a wonderful, though optional, extravagance. Jordan's lush Chardonnay is a fine match to this opulent soup.'
-- Executive Chef Todd Knoll
Serves 6 as a first course
¼ cup sea salt
3 Maine lobsters, 1 ¼ pounds each
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (preferably Jordan olive oil, see mail order information, below)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup Jordan Chardonnay
3 cups fresh or good quality frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
3 cups rich chicken broth, preferably homemade
4 cups water
Sea salt, to taste
2 hearts of romaine, julienned
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (preferably from Meyer lemons)
- If serving the soup chilled, have a large pot or bowl of ice water on hand near the stove or in the sink.
- Bring 2 gallons of water and the ¼ cup of sea salt to a rapid boil in a large stock pot or lobster pot. Add lobsters and boil rapidly for 5 ½ minutes or until just cooked through. Use long tongs or a long slotted spoon to transfer lobsters to the pot of ice water. If serving soup warm, omit ice water, place lobsters in a colander and cool to room temperature.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Add shallots, and cook until shallots are soft but not brown. Add the Jordan Chardonnay and simmer for 15 seconds. Add the peas, mint, tarragon and chicken broth and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes or until peas are just cooked through.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Place a sieve over a large soup pot and transfer the pea puree to the sieve. Pass the puree through the sieve. Add enough water to the pot to thin the soup to desired consistency. (Note: If serving the soup chilled, place the pot into a bowl of ice water, then place the sieve over the pot. This will cool the soup rapidly.) Set the pea soup aside.
- When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, use kitchen shears to crack or cut the shells. Remove lobster meat; discard shells. Slice tails into six medallions each and reserve claws whole.
- In a bowl, toss the romaine with lemon juice and remaining olive oil.
- To serve, reheat pea soup if necessary and ladle into bowls. (If serving chilled, ladle into chilled bowls.) Place a small mound of romaine in the center of each bowl, top with lobster medallions and a claw. Serve immediately, with chilled Jordan Chardonnay.
PHOTOS: Sasha Gulish