A 'Bel Canto' Gathering

There are a few ways to have a Bel Canto novel gathering.

First example is quite formal.  

Send out invitations using a free on line invitation site such as evite.  On the invitation you may want to be Vice President Iglesias or Vice President of this seating of the book club.  Create a formal monogram with either RI or your initials.  Below are some invite wording ideas.  If sending the invites out yourself via email, try a nice photo like the one below.  Be creative and have fun.




Do you want this get together to be black tie?  Picture it, long satin gloves and tiaras for the ladies, tails and bow ties for the men.  Raid your kids dress up box and your local second hand store.  Continue with this by having name cards for each participant.  A sit down meal is a must for this type of setting.  The table can have an 'Asian' flare, remember you are trying to impress a Japanese businessman.  Perhaps set the table with colourful tablecloth with cherry blossoms or paper fans with Japanese symbols.  Bring out your best china.  Now is the time.  Set a pair of chopsticks at each setting.


We are lucky when it comes to food.  Refer to page 9 of your book.  The author tells us what they feasted on,

White Asparagus in hollandaise
Turbot with crispy sweet onions
Tiny Chops in a cranberry demi glaze
Lemon Mousse
American Bourbon
Russian or French Caviar and Champagne

If you do not have the staff to prepare the above menu how about a few South American inspired dishes.

Grilled Watermelon Salsa and Spicy Lime Tortilla Chips
Coconut-Chile Shrimp served on tostadas with pineapple salsa and guacamole
Crabmeat-Advocado Quesadillas
Grilled Eggplant
and....Birthday Cake of course.  I tried to bake a 'special' birthday cake for this gathering.  I baked a Martha Stewart Belgian Chocolate Birthday Cake.  I got the recipe from her cookbook, The Martha Stweart Living Cookbook, The New Classics.  Notice the wine....

Print the menu out on cardstock and set at each setting placing chopsticks on top.

The book mentions yellow orchids on the table.  Do what you can here, even if they are silk flowers.  If you want to go fresh, look for all yellow flowers.  Remember the gardens surrounding the VP house, they were filled with birds of paradise, canna lilies and emerald ferns.

Music - well OPERA.  Try Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak.  Visit your local library and browse their extensive music selections.

We suggest you serve champagne or sparkling wine.  However, if you prefer a cocktail, try this,

Opera White Tea*

(this will keep two people singing their own aria)

1/2 oz. Russian Vodka
1/2 oz. Poire William Liqueur (pear flavoured)
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Tequila
Pear Puree
Shake the above ingredients together with ice and strain into martini glass.  

*compliments of the Sydney Opera House


Pisco Sour

3 Parts Pisco
2 Parts Lemon/Lime Juice                                    
1 Egg White
1 1/2 parts Simple Sugar
Shake vigorously with crushed ice until mixture becomes frothy.  Strain into coctail glass and garnish with Angostura bitters and lime slice

Serves 2 happily. 

The second possible gathering solution is through the eyes of the hostages or terrorists.  This crisis has already begun and perhaps you, the hostess could be Messner.  You could serve unappetizing sandwiches and soda all wrapped up in take out containers.  Do you remember when Messner finally brings them raw vegetables and chicken?  They had feared they were forgotten always unappetizing take out food; but then this delivery makes them capable of cooking and preparing their own meals, the way they like!  Simon Thibault shows everyone how to cut eggplant.  Try serving roasted eggplant and have an eggplant dip too.  This meal is very sparse and bland.  Everyone is to come looking haggard; like they have slept in their clothes for a week.

Opera is the most pleasing appetizer at this type of gathering.  Do you have a piano?  Can you go to someone's house who does?  This is where this book club should take place.  Have folding chairs fanned out around the piano.  Play the opera CD's in the background.  Why not encourage each guest to come as a character. Remember, if you are Roxane, she changed out of her evening gown and wore a pair of tan slacks and a cardigan, navy sweater of fine baby alpaca (page 119).  How about being Carmen?  Do you look good in camo?  Edith 64, "She took off the light silk wrapper she was wearing.  He had forgotten to ask for it.  It was a wonderful blue, a blue like the underbreast of the birds in this godforsaken jungle."


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