Halloween is behind us, and the long holiday season with its many occasions and opportunities for celebration, is upon us. Where better to look for new inspiration than one of the most party-proud towns in the country, New Orleans. And when it comes to Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper (his Britanic majesty’s honorary consul to NOLA), timing could not be more perfect.
The title of their extravagantly yummy new book Classical Shindig, Amateur Artistry From Simple to Sublime says it all! I assure you, nothing is left out of these 382 pages; you’ll find yourself wondering where they have time to actually pursue their careers as doctor and lawyer…and gifted pianists!!! Aside from wanting to meet them as soon as possible, the next best thing is acquiring this book which enthusiastically focuses on food, entertainment, music and decor all surrounded by a mid 19th century New Orleans home which they renovated a number of years ago.
The minute I received my copy of Classical Shindig I dived in, making fast and furious notes listing everything I loved about it…
~ There’s no holiday season or reason that they haven’t touched on for inclusion in their book. What’s Christmas without flaming plum pudding?
~ Using Paul Cox’s fabulous illustrations to record their trips to N.Y. for piano lessons.
~ Wonderful, creative settings that are so versatile they can be called upon for a variety of different occasions, as here with Thanksgiving inspiration (which could also be just as appropriate for Halloween)!!
~Is there anything more elegant than sugar-frosted fruit as decoration?
~ Their crested monograms appearing on scrumptious linens (as well as a chair in their entry foyer), the countless number of gorgeous china settings, their use of any and all treasures for varied and over the top reasons (and beguiling stories to go with them). Stepping into the party, via this well appointed entry foyer with it’s faux stone walls.
All in all, ideas galore that make for the kind of parties that can only be described as “laugh your socks off FUN” which usually start in the bar below (ie. “Buattaful,” an homage to Mario Buatta). Their decor details are as inspired as their parties. Here, looking into the bar…
AND divine southern recipes!!
OYSTER STEW (Serves 4)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk (warmed)
½ cup half-and-half (warmed)
2 dozen oysters with liquid
1 tablespoon sherry
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Dash of Worcestershire
Melt the butter in a double boiler or heavy sauce pot. Add the scallions, celery, and parsley and sauté until tender. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir for 2 minutes. Add the pre-heated milk and half-and-half and stir for 1 minute. Add the oysters and the liquid and simmer just until edges of the oysters begin to curl. Stir in the sherry, salt, pepper and Worcestershire. Do not let boil. Ladle into 4 serving bowls and serve immediately.
Their friend, Henrietta Spencer Churchill, expressed it so well on the back cover of their book…
So as you start making those long to do lists, tweaking the Thanksgiving menu, and searching the web for Christmas gifts, STOP for a sec and order this book (here’s the link). You can thank me later…
Feature image credit: Elizabeth Dondis
Classical Shindig, by Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper, © 2023 Susan Schadt Press.