I just celebrated another birthday, but this time, I brought the celebration to my friends - via Julia Child. I've been a longtime fan of hers as I mentioned in a blog post a while back, and after watching Julie/Julia with a glass of wine in hand one too many times, I decided I wanted to spend my birthday with a full Julia experience.
A few cute decorations were in order, but I didn't want to buy a bunch of random items I wouldn't be able to use again, so I got creative. Since our dinner table is small, I pulled out a card table and then just got a nice, clean tablecloth to cover it. On top I have some antique blue mason jars from my grandma that I put some simple roses in. On a trip to World Market I came across a cute little Eiffel Tower replica and chalkboard for a perfect Julia saying - Bon Appetit! Votive candles and wine corks did the rest - along with Edith Piaf playing in the background to set the mood.
Like any dinner party, if you plan well enough, it's quite simple to pull off. Luckily I had a resource for recipes (Mastering the Art of French Cooking of course!). I thought a simple start of french bread and cheese paired with artichokes with a lemon beurre sauce would be a gentle way to start the evening. And, with my sister in town to be my sous chef, she tackled the artichokes from start to finish!
For the main course, I went with the tried and true Bouef Bourguignon that I'd blogged about in the past. Although the dish takes about 4 - 4 1/2 hours from start to finish, there's a lot of down time perfect to clean yourself (and your kitchen!) up.
For dessert, I made the Reine de Saba (chocolate almond cake) from her book. It was simple and small, perfect for a dinner party without a whole bunch of cake leftover to stare me in the face for a week!
I had to dress the part of course! Pulling off the Julia look wasn't tough. A simple buttoned shirt, knee-length skirt and pearls were the basis, and I made my own Ecole des Gourmands pin. I had a wig sitting around that a few clever placements of bobby pins gave me the perfect hairstyle for the evening. The finishing touch was of course one of my trusty aprons.
The most important part of a dinner party is the company you keep. Many thanks to my gentle friends for spending my birthday evening with me, bring wine to pair with the courses and for dressing like Parisians!