Sunday, October 09, 2005

A History of Victuals

Recently I have received three emails requesting more dinner party menus be included on the Cafe Drake site. As we aim to please all visitors, I have listed below various meals enjoyed by myself and my guests over the past few years. Hopefully they may provide some inspiration to those seeking new ideas, or be used as springboards for your own theme dinners. Please send us your menus of great success or distinction so we may share them with other website viewers.

Dinner Before a Night of Clubbing
January 12, 2002

Roasted Hazelnut Soup

Grilled Sausages over Lentils
Watercress salad

Coffee & Chocolates

Dinner with the Jens & Jorge
February 8, 2002

Pate with mustard and rye bread

Rabbit Stew
Roasted Asparagus

Apple Cobbler

A Thursday Night Feast
May 9, 2002

Wild Greens Salad with Avocado and Tomato Vinaigrette

Roasted Cod
Cilantro relish
Mushroom Couscous

Maytag Bleu Cheese with Raisin Bread

Late Summer Dinner Party
August 24, 2002

Cauliflower Soup with Black Mustard Seeds

Yogurt Marinated Chicken
Roasted Vegetable Salad with Ginger Dressing

Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream

Lamb and Trimmings
December 8, 2002

Roasted Leg of Lamb
Mint Jelly
Roasted Potatoes & Carrots
Braised Red Cabbage with Apples

Hard Cider

New Year’s Eve
December 31, 2002

Hoppin’ John
Braised Collard Greens


Dinner after the Gallery
February 27, 2003

Old Fashioneds & Peanuts

Chicken with Wild Mushrooms
String Beans
Garlic Bread

Indian Spring
April 28, 2003

Sapphire Martinis

Beef Vindaloo
Urad Dal
Onion Relish
Sweltering Summer Fare
July 26, 2003

Gin Gimlets

Skillet-fried Calamari with Hot Peppers
Tomato Bruschetta

Avocado Salad

Blackberry Sorbet

Tree Trimming Dinner 2003
December 6

Rosemary Gin Fizzes

Stewed Chicken with Green Olives
Cheddar Polenta

Hot Mulled Wine & Butterscotch Brownies

Chinese New Year’s Celebration
January 19, 2004

Whole Roasted Red Snapper & Striped Bass
Sticky Rice
Sesame Noodles

Almond Cookies

Protein Night
August 22, 2004

Ouzo with lemon
Mixed Nuts

Steak au Poivre
Spinach Salad
Buckwheat Noodles with Cabbage & Onions

Birthday at Zenon Greek & Cyprian Restaurant

Zenon Taverna. 34-10 31 Avenue, Astoria (718) 956-0133

It's hard to not enjoy a meal when surrounded by loved ones, and I'll be the first to admit that the warm zeitgeist of my recent birthday dinner may have colored my overall impression, but the food at Zenon taverna in Astoria's Greektown can stand on its own even if scarfed from paper plates in the backseat of taxi cab (or some similarly unpleasant environment). As a group of 7 we sampled the three full dinner options – Vegetarian, Seafood and the Cypress Dinner. A simple table covered with a white linen cloth and sparsely adorned with fresh sunflowers was soon replete with dish after dish of Cyprian specialities, including the native retsina wine (an acquired taste which I seem to develop after the second glass) and ceramic pitchers of the very drinkable house red.

The fleet-footed waiter is constantly streaming between the kitchen and table, with each visit depositing new plates of an astonishing variety of dishes. Beginning with warm flatbreads and slices from an olive wholegrain loaf, we feasted on fresh tahina dip, tarmasalota, tzkiki, tangy beets, eggplant chopped with feta and a truly remarkable Greek salad. Throughout the evening a new surprise arrived unbidden: platters of smoked ham, two types of meatballs, homemade sausage of an intriguing richness, grilled vegetables, charred octopus seasoned with sea salt and olive oil, fried cheese rubbery and toothsome, tender calamari, both deep-fried and dressed in a vinagarette, various filets of fish and everywhere, the bite of fresh lemon and Greek herbs. We closed the evening with a semolina and honey cake and the regional coffee, black and thick as tar with cooked grounds nestled at the bottom of each delicious demitasse.