February is the Cruelest Month

A number of years ago, I decided in the hubris and chutzpah that goes with being a writer in graduate school that I was (1) sick of earnest young male grad students shoving T.S. Eliot down my throat as the genius of the universe and (2) there was absolutely nothing good about February, a month in which the color brown multiplies in its myriad incarnations here on the Front Range.  Bolstered by a quick cash infusion from my student loan check, I decided to throw a dinner party and invite my writer friends.  Good food and bombast was the theme.  Fuck T.S. Eliot (because February not April is the cruelest month) was the name.

T.S. Eliot guest Tracy in his smoking jacket

 T  hat first T.S. Eliot party featured something like five or six courses.I made homemade cappellacci with sweet squash and sage butter sauce, grilled radicchio and endive, and roasted quails my friend Jim Campbell shot in Wisconsin.  I put a bunch of tableclothe-covered folding tables together, and a dozen of my friends and I ate and drank and bombasted the night away.  In those days, we toasted a variation on the three musketeers’ cry, “Tonight we drink, for tomorrow we write!”

Nothing beats Leg of Lamb

Over the years, T.S. has survived many incarnations.  There have been murder mystery themes, including one set in ancient Rome, where I took the legs off my 200 pound solid oak table and put it on cinder blocks in the living room so we could dine on pillows, and the woman who won the costume contest was so skinny, she made a toga out of a king-sized pillow case.  One T.S. Eliot was Moroccan themed and set in the 60s, and I hosted it in the horse barn I lived in while writing my dissertation.  Guests had to pee in the snow outside, as I had no running water or toilet; it was just like Woodstock. I made  a couple of bistellas that were so good, the partygoers stuffed themselves with them and couldn’t eat the lamb with pomegranate and couscous that came as the main course. 

As for the menus, forget the idea of never serving something new to guests.  I always experiment.  I learned to make bordelaise for the veal roast I made for one party and it has become a favorite sauce, one I break out for special occasions.  Other parties have included more homemade pasta, confited duck, chocolate soufflé, valentine themed pizzas and poetry, gravlax,  artichoke mousse, and caviar and new potatoes.
T.S. Eliot guest Gina had the best cocktail attire
This year, I opened the T.S. Eliot Lounge.  No longer buoyant with government loans, I ask friends to bring wine pairings, or in this case, appetizers, which included lovely rolled and stuffed proscuitto (figs, goat cheese, arugula and lemon zest), and I returned to the classic pairing of leg of lamb with creamy polenta, bordelaise, and asparagas.   The lounge featured some fantastic cocktail attire and great word games. 
Tracy’s fantastic rolled proscuitto

Here’s the menu:

Trio of Appetizers 
Champagne Cocktails + Kir Royales
Rosemary & Garlic Crusted Leg of Lamb
Creamy Polenta
Grilled Asparagus w/ Shabed Parmesan
Chocolate Soufflé with Raspberry Coulis
What was left of the chocolate souffle
The Fuck T. S. Eliot Party is now in its 17th year.  Every year, it makes February, a month that surely must be the silliest and more dour of the year, infintely more bearable.

Bon Appetit!

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