Georgia Magazine - April 2017 - 38
'And they're off!'
Fare for Steeplechase and
Derby Day parties
BY JANE F. GARVEY
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org
JANE F. GARVEY
Skip salads made with mayonnaise, especially homemade
mayonnaise, and opt for vinegarbased salad dressings. You don't
want your guests having to be treated
later for food poisoning. Leave green
salads undressed in a sealed container and the prepared homemade
dressing in a separate jar or bottle to
be added at the last minute.
Plan on having food throughout the day. Perhaps start with
biscuits and homemade pimiento
cheese and spiced pecans with cocktails, and then offer a chilled soup in
cups around late morning. Heavier
fare could follow at 1 p.m., then, as
the afternoon wears down, bring out
the sweets or desserts. And make it
Provide bottled water, both
still and sparkling, so imbibing
guests stay hydrated. Bring lemon
and lime for the water-and the cocktails. Good, strong coffee kept hot in
a thermos should be the last beverage
served other than water.
Plan dishes that don't
require last-minute attention, other than tossing
salads. And no cooking at
the event; let the professionals do that. So plan on dishes
that are great (indeed even
better) served at room temperature or cold. You want to
enjoy the events, too.
Think "tapas," small
bites that can sustain the
revelers through hours of
partying. Another advantage to serving small hors
d'oeuvres is that many may
From left, Chasity Burroughs and Danielle and Lee
be made in advance and
Copeland show off their Derby Day finery at the
served without any further
Madison-Morgan Conservancy's annual Derby Day
cooking. Just dig in!
teeplechases and Derby Days
bring out the antique automobiles, the big hats on the ladies
and, of course, the horses. But also
the food and the adult beverages-
especially mint juleps, which are de
rigueur for horse-focused events in
Southern devotees of these
equine-centered events like to create
noble spreads, often complete with
elaborate tablescapes and sometimes
including crystal, fine china and candelabras.
When hosting these horsefocused food fests, one should keep
a few common-sense rules in mind.
It can be very hot outdoors,
even in early spring, so don't
bring molded gelatin-based dishes. One event attendee nearly wept
to see her salmon mousse run all
over the plate the moment it was unmolded, wasting a lot of great ingredients and the care she had lavished
on its preparation.
At The Pinewood in Decatur, Mixologist
Danny Fernandez makes a mint julep using
About those adult beverages ...
Mint juleps are traditional Derby
drinks, served in frosted, silver cups
and adorned with mint sprigs. This
classic Southern drink is said to have
originated as far back as the 18th
century. It can be very sweet, which
often dismays folks when they first
taste it, so alternative beverages are a
good idea. One julep per guest may
be just enough.
Regional judge for the James
Beard Foundation Restaurant Awards,
food and beverage critic and author
of several books about bourbon, Susan Reigler has a very specific take
on the proper julep. Although some
folks like to make a mint julep with
rye whiskey so it's not so sweet,
Reigler recommends the opposite approach: specifically, a wheat bourbon
instead of rye.
But either way, she advises: "Just
don't get too carried away with the
mint. You just want to garnish it with
the mint. And use some sort of spearmint variety. There's a mint strain
called 'Kentucky Colonel,' and it's a
nice [one] to use for a julep."
While some authorities sanction
the use of a pewter cup, that won't