The 2000 Symphony Ball Celebration promises to be ``A Gala Evening of Music and More,'' and not just because that's what the invitation reads.
This year's format, which nestles a performance by pianist Roger Williams between hors d'oeuvres and salad, lends itself to a bistro-style dinner. The April 15 event will be held in the Stranahan Great Hall.
The Toledo Symphony League, under the direction of food committee chairwomen Cindy Taylor and Dusty Rothman, was inspired by the menu from the newly renovated Russian Tea Room in New York City.
"We thought it should be more of a cabaret evening, and that's how someone thought of the Russian Tea Room," said Myrna Bryan, Symphony League president.
Not only did the ambiance of the restaurant inspire the ball's decor, the bite-size canapes served at a cocktail reception at the famed restaurant led to the selection of hors d'oeuvres, which will be served beginning at 6 p.m.
"Former symphony balls were four- and five-course dinners," said Mrs. Taylor at a recent tasting for the party, which benefits the Toledo Symphony. "We were presented with an opportunity of having a performance by Roger Williams as the focus between hors d'oeuvres and dinner."
Thus, hors d'oeuvres are heartier, the meal is simplified, and the dessert will be lighter. But rest assured, the sum total will be spectacular.
With food by Chef William Whitehead of Gladieux Catering and Keith Brooks' inspired designs for bistro tables - draped fabric valences, candlestick mini lamps, and fabric-draped chairs - elegance will be the tone for the black-tie event.
Gladieux has turned to the style of garde manger (gahrd mahn-ZHAY) for the presentation of cold canapes passed on elaborately decorated trays. Chef Whitehead's assistant, Geneva Hudson, will create chaud-froid (shoh-FRWAH), a method traditionally employed to glaze meat; in this case, the chaud-froid will glaze the glass bottom of silver serving trays. Within the glaze will nestle a floral arrangement of herbs, carrots, almonds, sliced pepper, seeds, peppercorns, and grains.
Too often, party-goers are so busy talking, they don't notice the presentation of the passed hors d'oeuvres. This is one they won't want to ignore.
The presentation is doable for the artistic cook, whether it is an Oscar party you are planning or a wedding shower. The French technique involves using gelatin. You could make a design for any holiday, any season, or any event. Blade recipe tester Linda Deubner thinks it could be done for children's theme parties, too, from Girl Scout projects to soccer parties.
Although chaud-froid is edible, for this presentation it is simply the picture-frame to showcase the canapes. Bite-size delicacies include eggplant caviar on toast points; dill cream cheese, radish, watercress and sweet mustard on sunflower rye; cold poached chicken, Georgian spices and cranberry relish on toasted corn bread, and roast beef canapes with horseradish and caramelized onion on rye bread.
In addition, two stations will tie in the cabaret theme as well as provide vegetarian options and enable the guests to mingle, according to Linda Wininger, chairwoman of the 2000 Symphony Ball Celebration.
A Salmon Station will feature chef-carved Irish smoked salmon with condiments. The Mediterranean Station will include chilled vegetarian grape leaves and a deep-fried risotto called arancini, a culinary concept I saw demonstrated recently at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley. Italian sausage en croute, spinach phyllo triangles, and a cascading bread display with pita wedges, hummus and baba ghanoush will be artfully prepared.
And that's before the music by Roger Williams. Following the performance, a three-course dinner will be served. Then party-goers may dance until midnight. Tickets are $150 per person. For information, call Linda Wininger at 836-1121.