Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Crown Jewel Affair - Our POM Wonderful Dinner Party

The Crown Jewel Affair - A POM Wonderful Dinner Party
Sunday, November 14, 2010, 6:00 p.m.
Coronado, California

Coronado is Spanish for "the crowned one," and is nicknamed The Crown City.
UPDATE:  We placed in the TOP TEN!  But not high enough to hop a plane to Colorado...
There's a Newf in My Soup! was honored and thrilled to be chosen by POM Wonderful to host a pomegranate-themed dinner party. If you follow our blog, you know how much we thrive on Holiday and Theme Parties!

During the week of November 8-14, 100 people across the country set their creative pomegranate juices in motion, and hosted POM Wonderful Dinner Parties for a chance to win one of 10 Best POM Party prizes. I admit, a major incentive for hosting this party was the chance of winning one of the three Grand Prizes: Two-night, all-expenses-paid trip to any city on the POM Wonderful Chef Series 2010 list, including dinner at the chosen chef's restaurant (for Chef Series 2010, notable chefs from around the nation created internationally inspired recipes featuring the POM Wonderful variety pomegranates and POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice). My sights are set on a trip to Telluride, Colorado, and dinner at Chef Jake Linzinmeir's Bluepoint Grill & Noir Bar! However, I am also a pomegranate and pomegranate juice aficionado, and welcomed the challenge to create an entire dinner party incorporating pomegranates in the decor and menu.

We are now in the submission period, when each host must submit a party recap via blog posts, photo albums, and videos. Judging is based on best incorporation of pomegranates into the menu/drinks; most inspired pomegranate decor; and most successful "How to Open a Pomegranate" presentation.

Upon the arrival of our POM Wonderful pomegranates, I had a vision. We jumped in the car and headed down to the beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado, for an impromptu photo shoot. The two halves of the pomegranate resemble an exquisite sea shell, enhanced by its scattered ruby jewels and reflection in the wet sand. This is how the name for our party evolved...a party to be held in the Crown City of Coronado, showcasing pomegranates and their shimmering ruby jewels. The Crown Jewel Affair...

Pomegranate "Shell"  - Beach at The Hotel Del Coronado

To get us started, POM Wonderful shipped each party host a generous supply of pomegranates (over 40!), a whimsical apron, flexible cutting board, POM juice coupons, Chef Series 2010 Recipe Cards, and canvas bags filled with goodies for our guests.

In case you haven't heard, POM Wonderful is the largest grower of pomegranates in the United States, with over 18,000 acres of orchards located in Central California’s fertile and sunny San Joaquin Valley. POM Wonderful supplies the majority of the nation’s fresh pomegranates and ships to over 55 countries. You can find a wealth of information about POM Wonderful pomegranates, health benefits, recipes, decorating ideas, and products at POM Wonderful, and a friendly POM community on Facebook.

I made a gift basket for each couple, filled with POM Wonderful goodies, a bottle of POM juice, a few pomegranates, and a jar of my homemade Pomegranate Jalapeno Jelly, which was served at the party over warm Nut Crusted Fried Brie.

Menu planning and pomegranate decor were next on the list. Our menu for The Crown Jewel Affair was inspired by a few favorite chefs, local restaurants, and one very special POM Wonderful Chef Series 2010 recipe created by Chef Cindy Pawlcyn. I'll talk more about the menu in subsequent blog posts dedicated to each course.

During our Summer Coronado Concert in the Park themed parties, our friends and family gather around picnic tables. Spreckels Park provides a casual outdoor venue, and the locals love to stop by to inquire about our theme of the week and admire the gourmet spread. Hosting The Crown Jewel Affair at our little house provided me with the opportunity to set the mood for a warm and intimate party for our closest cooking friends and family.

I had so much fun planning the decor and shopping for accessories to complement our beautiful, rustic, dark wood dining table, and collection of white serving plates, bowls, and platters, in every shape and size imaginable (which accumulate with food blogging and lots of parties). As far as my decorating style, I prefer casual and rustic, with a hint of elegance. I'm drawn to jewel and earth tones, dark wood, and the textures of leather, suede and fur. The fresh pomegranates, scattered about the house, fit so well!

Of course, I came across a few things I just had to buy (hey, there is a trip to Telluride at stake here). I found a festive Caroline Paisley table runner at Pottery Barn, olive-colored round placemats and napkins from Sur La Table, and a few decorative branches from a florist supply store. I set the table with copper chargers, salad plates, mini lions head soup bowls, and wine glasses and champagne flutes.  I arranged fresh pomegranates, bronze glitter-dusted artichokes, and the decorative branches around the sugar mold candleholder. I must say, it was a gorgeous pomegranate tablescape.

The buffet was adorned with a towering apothecary jar filled with pomegranates, crystal decanters filled with pomegranate and ginger liqueurs, and our Anthropologie Beast's Feast Platter and Copper Dog Designs hammered copper bowl for the hors d'oeuvres.

 Next to the fireplace, we filled a copper bucket with pomegranates and pine cones.

The following is a brief recap of our menu.  Subsequent posts will follow soon, with more photos and recipes for each course.

The Crown Jewel Affair
Chef's Menu
Vanilla Vodka / Ginger Liqueur / Pomegranate Liqueur / Sparking Wine
Pomegranate Arils

Cracker Bread

pomegranate arils, crystallized ginger, pepitas, fresh thyme, creme fraiche

Baby greens, toasted pine nuts, orange supremes, pomegranate arils, goat cheese, petite basil

Chiles in Walnut Sauce

Lemon Sorbet Palate Cleanser

Crisp Polenta Triangles
Pomegranate Arils, Cojita Cheese

Pomegranate Pink Peppercorn Syrup

"After Dinner Mints"
 Brandied Pomegranate Arils

Here's our Crown Jewel Affair Video

And our Presentation on How to Open a POM Wonderful Pomegranate

The party continues...please stop by the posts below to see more photos of each course and recipes.  Fresh or bottled POM Wonderful pomegranate juice starred in a jelly, vinaigrette, braising liquid, sauce, reduction, ice cream flavoring, and syrup, and fresh pomegranate arils were found floating in cocktails, and adorning every course, providing an elegant and festive touch, pop of brilliant color, burst of sweet, tart flavor and surprise crunch.
  • Our Welcome Cocktail, Ginger Pomegranate Martini, now posted, here.
  • An amazing appetizer, Nut Crusted Fried Brie with Pomegranate Jalapeno Jelly, now posted here.
  • Vibrant Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, now posted here.
  • Lively Roasted Beet Salad with Pomegranate-Cumin Vinaigrette, now posted here.
  • Magnificent Chiles en Nogada, now posted here.
  • Braised Lamb Shank Ragu, Polenta Triangles, Spicy Mexican Pomegranate Sauce, here.
  • Chocolate Pavlova, Pomegranate Frozen Custard, Pomegranate Pink Peppercorn Syrup, here.


bunkycooks said...

Love the dishes! Sorry I missed yet another wonderful dinner party at your place! The sound on the video stops after about the 2 minute mark, so you might want to ck it out. Good luck!!!!

Denise said...

Gwen - I've sent a inquiry to You Tube, but it appears they are having problems with their Audioswap feature. Hope they can find the bug soon! Wish you guys could have been here for the party!

Mom said...

A few of the many hats you wear so well are Party Planner and Chef Extraordinaire. Not only do you love to challenge yourself with a new theme or a new ingredient, the delicious, appealing and creative spin on each pomegranate dish really set you apart as you seemed to perfect your menu with effortless sophistication. The food was as compelling as your beautifully pomegranate decorated home, tabletop settings, and warming fireplace. What’s more, you have the rare skill of always putting your guests at ease. Conversation and shared laughs never lagged at the dinner table and your guests will long remember your warm hospitality and fine cooking. Thanks for including me in the elegant Crown Jewel Affair.

Carmen said...

Crap! During your dinner party I was in a dry county in Mississippi under Blue Law eating beans and cornbread and watching an episode titled CREME FRAICHE on SOUTH PARK. I've had to survive on venison, squirrel and half of a fifteen year old bottle of muscadine wine. Glad to see you were having so much fun...

Nina and Alec said...

What a delectable treat to again experience the opulence of that evening through your video post! If the pomegranate were to be personified, it would happily evolve its character in your kitchen. From the cocktail to the after dinner 'mint,' my cheeks still blush with fond memory. Yours was truly a glittering jewel affair, thank you so much for including us. We are forever fans of the illustrious pomegranate!

Melinda said...

Wow! What an evening! Everything perfectly fit the theme of a "Crown Jewel Affair" in Coronado, the "Crown City." Each dish was incredibly imaginative and how you did so by incorporating pomegranates into each recipe was truly "over the top!" If you were a restaurant, you would have 5 stars for the evening. The ambiance and the company added a bonus zest to the night. And you made it all look so effortless (despite what obviously was hours and hours of thought and effort). We hope that we are perennial invitees to any and all future culinary expeditions. In other words, if we are lucky enough to be invited again, we will gladly travel 800 miles round trip to be there. There is no way that we would miss it! Thanks again for an unforgettable night.

Melinda and Jim

Hillari said...

One of the best dinner events ever. Thanks for inviting me.

Kai said...

Love the movie, almost as much as I loved the food. Wow. said...

Congrats on winning the contest! Looks like it was a great party.

Lindsay said...

Hello from POM! You are one of our first runners up :) Please e-mail Lindsay for details.