21 November 2010

The Seventh Annual St. Cecilia Arts Festival: The Party's Over



St. Cecilia, Matthew Alderman

For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
~ Romans 7:15
St. Paul was a smart cookie. The evil I did this morning that I did not want to do was wake up at 7am ~ after going to bed at 2:30am. How my exhausted body managed this feat, I have no earthly notion. Yet here I sit, a mug of spiced herbal tea in my hand, watching the sun pour his honeyed essence through the windows.

Last night was a great success. Over one hundred forty guests attended the Seventh Annual St. Cecilia Arts Festival in Old Towne Alexandria and we put on quite a show for them. Faure, Bach, Broadway show tunes, poetry readings, comedic monologues, Monty Python, even a couple of Polish nightclub art songs.

The highlight was our Featured Artist: Michelle Jacobeen. Not only does Michelle have an incredible voice -- strong, passionate, and lyrical -- but she has a wonderful stage presence and an engaging personality that reached out to the audience and won them over. My favorite was Taylor, The Latte Boy. While not a Broadway tune per se, it reminded me of Adelaide’s Lament from Guys and Dolls. "Bring me java, bring me joy!" Ah yes, young love. What a hoot!

Now, I see you tapping your foot and asking “That’s all very nice, Mikaela, but what food did you serve!?” Fair enough. Some of the recipes you are already familiar with: Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Rum, Whisky and Baileys Chocolate Truffles. They have become standards and I cannot escape from having to make them. I tried, but one of my volunteers refused to help out until I promised they would be attendance!

This year, we added chicken skewers. Every other event where I have had them the chicken was dry and almost always served with peanut sauce. Zzzzzzz. Oh, I am sorry ~ where was I? Oh yes, boring chicken. Well, this year I decided to make up my own recipe. I wanted to do a Southern Fried Chicken Skewers [with fried okra in between ~ mmmm!] but my Assistant Caterer laughed at me. Sigh ~ yankees will never understand the sweet siren call of okra!

Instead, I opted to cut up the chicken into bite-size chunks and marinate them in basil, tarragon and wine. In between I placed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Heaven on a bamboo stick!

This year, we served our now traditional Cranberry Punch, along with Warm Spiced Cider. A new addition were four wines from Loudon Valley Vineyards. A few close friends and I had made a day trip out to Virginia Horse and Wine Country. One of the wineries we stopped by was Loudon Valley. The 2009 Route 9 Red was fabulous, as were the 2008 Classic White and the 2008 Viognier. And the 2005 Legacy after dinner wine is a luxurious mix of musty oak and dark cherries.

For dessert, in addition to the tipsy truffles and miniature pumpkin pies, my friend Leslie, who is an incredible baker, brought three delectable type of cupcakes: Lavender Lemon Vanilla Crème, S’Mores and Salted Chocolate Caramel. And no, she doesn’t bake for a living, so your only hope is to either be her good friend or attend next year’s Arts Festival. Mark your calendars now for 19 November 2011!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

P.S. Seriously, I am going to make the Southern version just for myself this weekend! What do you suggest with the okra - hush puppies? Corn fritters? The possibilities are endless! Cheers!
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