Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

A Night to Remember

Last night, Rene and I attended a high-brow fundraiser for Queen of the Valley, our local hospital. We were there as guests of Camie Bianchi, one of my graphic design clients who is on the board of directors. As part of the festivities, she had commissioned me to design a set of place cards with mini bio's of 40 queens throughout history. The ten place settings at each of the 40 tables featured a different queen, to serve as an ice-breaker for strangers seated at the same table. It was definitely one of the most fun and fascinating research projects I've ever done.

The event was held at Silverado Country Club, beginning with a champagne reception and silent auction, mostly of coveted Napa Valley wines, followed by a live auction throughout the dinner, featuring jewelry, artwork, travel packages, and gourmet dinners. The bidding was quite spirited, with some items fetching upwards of $10,000. Of course, on my humble salary, I couldn't splurge on such grand luxuries, but it was certainly fun to be in the midst of it.

For a dinner party to accommodate 400 guests, the meal and service were fantastic. We were served Warm Stilton Tartlettes on Baby Greens with Violet Petals and Walnut Vinaigrette; Roasted Filet Mignon with Pancetta Lardons, Oven Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes and Bundled Grilled Vegetables, or Halibut Beurre Noir with Black Butter, Capers and Lemon, Garlic Mash and Bundled Vegetables; and for the vegetarians, Wild Mushroom Wellington. Dessert was a White Chocolate Trifle. Our host had ordered the beef for everyone at the table, and much to my delight, it was tender and grilled to medium rare perfection. The wines served with the meal were a buttery, well-rounded Silverado Vineyards Chardonnay and a velvety, aromatic Paoletti Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. An excellent pairing.

I had bought a new outfit for the occasion: a sexy black velvet halter gown and a new pair of dancing shoes. Rene wore a bright red cashmere blazer over a crimson shirt, black sweatervest and black wool gabardine trousers; and except for the auctioneer, he was the only guy in the place wearing red. After the bidding was over, there was a mass exodus of all the guests who obviously had to be up and at it early in the morning, so Rene and I had the dance floor practically to ourselves. It was great to be out and about in such fine style, and the whole evening was a delightful culmination to several weeks of hard work.

And now...back to designing the menu for my 'American Adobo' Filipino dinner.