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Autumn, Fondue and You

I’m a big fan of theme parties and dinners. My friend Leslie incorporates thematic details into every aspect of her parties. Hearty French fare tastes so right on a brisk November night, and her “Autumn, Fondue and You” party last weekend masterfully played upon the dual Fall/Frenchie genre. Edith Piaf sang her little heart out as guests arrived and were greeted by the gracious host, looking Parisian in a long black fitted skirt, lacy black top and peep-toe black pumps. The deep, warm and vibrant paint choices in her renovated Victorian house (circa 1886) , together with the eclectic art collection, contributed to the classy but cozy atmosphere. The party began, naturally, in the Spanish tiled kitchen with its homey floor-to-ceiling brick hearth, where a delicious Chicken Pate with Brandy and Apples and Goat Cheese with Fig and Olive Tapenade started things off with the right accent. The hostess mingled with guests while deftly shaving fennel on a mandolin for the Shaved Fennel, Pomegrante and Preserved Lemon Salad and rotating casseroles of cassoulet in the oven. While more “Fall” than “French,” my Fondue in a Pumpkin appeared to receive good reviews, maybe because I used my grandmother’s technique of pushing it on people then extorting compliments from them. (See Florence Ueberroth’s Famous Pie Crust). The placement of the cassoulet and an assortment of cheesy and chocolate fondues on a candle lit table accessorized with bowls of nature’s fall bounty lured guests away from the kitchen into the spacious open living/dining area. Dipping options for the cheese fondue included bite-sized squares of bread, steamed fingerling potatoes and broccoli florets. And for the chocolate fondue, the choices were legion and imaginative: raspberries, strawberries, tiny biscotti, meringues and crystallized ginger, among other assorted pastries. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris flowed freely in this festively French forum, and too soon, alas, I had to bid adieu.

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