Imagine a lifestyle of gourmet dinners and vintage wines, all elegantly prepared and served. That's what members of the Baltimore Chaper of Chaine de Rotisseurs enjoy every six to eight weeks.
Chaine, founded in 1248 in Paris, is said to be the largest and oldest gastronomic organization in the world. Membership originally was limited to "masters" in the art of roasting geese. However, today's members share a broader interest in food, wine and etiquette -- although each still must own a rotisserie, a rule stemming from the founding fathers.
I joined members and their guests at Chestnut Ridge Country Club, where we wined and dined in grand style. This is the first time the group has held a dinner at a private club -- and the club's general manager, Jim Pappas, and his white-gloved staff did a fabulous job.
Portabella mushrooms with tomato, basil and crab; pheasant ravioli; and pignoli stuffed mussels highlighted the champagne cocktail hour and were highly recommended by Marlene and Duke Goldberg (He owns International Eyewear Inc.); Maryann and Mimmo Cricchio (He's the owner and chef at Da Mimmo's in Little Italy); and Tom and Nancy Steuhler (He owns LaFontaine Bleu).
Service began promptly for the seven-course meal, which included two particularly notable dishes. The Prince Leo in a puffed pastry with juniper berries and garlic custard gave my husband quite a start when he learned he was eating lion, and there were oohs and aahs when the apple-rosemary sorbet was served in dainty red tulips, complete with stems and leaves of edible candy.
We sat with wine expert Ted Task, who gave us a running commentary on what we were drinking. Others at the party were Henry Rocklin, Dorn Rocklin, Dr. Steve Levin, Larry Coleman, Jay Block and Bernie and Donna Kudor.
The meal was prepared by the club's 25-year-old executive chef, Brian Boston, and his staff. He attended the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, before working at Peerce's Plantation and the Brass Elephant.
What was the Convention Bureau's loss has become a gain for the Baltimore International Culinary College. The bureau's former director of membership Courtney McKeldin has landed a job as vice president for institutional development at the Culinary College, which she says is rated in the top three in the country.
But you haven't heard the best part. The school owns a 20-room inn north of Dublin, Ireland, so a trip could be mandatory for the new veep.
There's a lot going on at the Culinary College. Did you know the L'Ecole restaurant on South Gay Street, run by the college, has been renamed the Baltimore Baking Company and will have a grand reopening in April? Also, the school has purchased one of my favorite old buildings, the Merchants Club on Redwood Street, and plans to reopen it as a club in the near future. And students are now running Government House of Calvert Street.
Interesting aside is that McKeldin's brother, Julian Stuart Jones III, is in charge of development at the University of Maryland's University College, the adult continuing-education arm of the school in College Park. Could this make them the only brother-sister development team in the state or maybe even the country?
Members of the Maryland chapter of the Leukemia Society of America are really on their toes these days, looking for new and enticing ways to raise money for their charity. Last week, one of the society's newest board members, Glynda Sebek, and her husband, Ed, who works for Deloitte & Touche, had a small party at their home to introduce artist Sarkasi Ben Said, better known as "Tzee."
This talented artist, who specializes in batik painting, is from Singapore. The Sebeks became familiar with him and his work when they lived there. Society board president Cathy Boltz and executive director Pat Dodd joined Joe Yurfest, Tom Regan and Lois Baldwin at the Sebeks for a firsthand look at the artist's work and to discuss the possibility of a fall artsy preview party and a weeklong exhibit and sale of Tzee's works to benefit the Leukemia Society.
For more than an hour Friday night, Lisa Reagan, niece of former President Ronald and Nancy Reagan, belted out show tunes for guests having cocktails in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor. On hand to cheer her on were old friends Jack Kent Cooke and Kathie Lee Gifford . . . How about beginning your St. Patrick's Day celebration at Baltimore's Original Sports Bar with me? I'll be there with WLIF-FM's Sloane Brown and Bob Kilpatrick, WMAR-TV's Tony Pagnotti and Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper at 5 p.m. Tuesday to begin judging the first annual Irish Stew Cook-Off. From what I hear, guests can eat the leftovers. Besides stew, games and an Irish sing-along are definites. The $2 admission goes to the Maryland Food Bank and Food Committee. Stop by.