Sure, the title Park Avenue Potlucks might suggest chastened, post-Madoff, recession-era repasts, but make no mistake: This gilded new guide to dining in on the Upper East Side is no collection of recipes for maid-free casseroles.
The upper-crust cookbook is compiled by the Times Dining section’s long-standing gastro grande dame Florence Fabricant and while her foreword promises trade secrets of experienced hostesses (“I love to spray-paint pumpkins in gold, bronze and silver” and “my husband carves the turkey at the table”), we love it most for the way it captures a way of life—indeed, an era— through its eats: Its pages reveal a sumptuous land of artichoke soup with oysters, filet mignon à la crème and short ribs bourguignon, where a picnic basket and monogrammed tote wait in the back of a beach-bound convertible, where fur coats are draped beside chocolate-dipped strawberries in multimilliondollar dining rooms.
But while we savor the peek behind closed kitchen doors, the book’s not Robin Leach with recipes—rather, it’s written for the very people it covers. If you’re one of them, the sources guide in the back of the book will make well-funded entertaining a snap—its listings include three caviar shops, three prepared-food vendors, eight floral design businesses and 10 sources for invitations and stationery.
Even barons whose budgetary belt has tightened—slightly— might take inspiration from one quoted hostess: “We’re usually on holiday in the Bahamas over New Year’s. This year, for a change, we returned home on New Year’s Eve and had a meal of pizza, caviar served on crispy potato chips, and Champagne.”
Photo courtesy of Florence Fabricant