Full Moon Dinners:
Building a menu with the phases of the Moon.
Planning a menu for a special event is always fun. You start with a blank canvas and build as you go. You think about flavors, colors, textures, what is in season and readily available, and how to execute each dish from the harvest to the plate set before your guest. A chef’s mind is constantly thinking through these things in the menu planning process until there is a clear picture of each course and how it fits with what comes before and after it.
I don’t play an instrument, but I would imagine that it is the same with writing a piece of music. You start with the notes and think through which instrument will play them, then layer in other instruments that pair well and soon, you have a symphonic masterpiece.
In planning for our August Full Moon Dinner, I decided the best place to start is with the name of the moon. Moons officially started being named by the Old Farmers’ Almanac around 1930. The moon is the reason we are coming together after all, so I believe its name should be honored and highlighted.
Each moon may have several names, but I did a bit of research to find the one with the most culinary significance and landed upon The Sturgeon Moon. Sturgeons are giant lake fish that date back to prehistoric times. Native Americans found them to be most bountiful at this time of year, so much so, they named a moon after them. Perfect. Our August dinner will be centered around fish and shellfish.
How many courses? Again, we look to the moon. The moon goes through eight phases each month, so, eight is the magic number. With eight courses, there is also artistic freedom to maneuver the meal in a few different directions before ending with dessert. We will be dining outdoors, on a working farm among the apple orchards in the heat of summer, so much of the food will be served either chilled or room temperature, which is perfect considering our surroundings. Another thing to consider is that we will not have access to a kitchen during the event, so, we need to make one. Thanks to generators, we will have electric, but I’m thinking that a big ass grill will do the trick! Now there is another layer to the menu plan . . . work only with recipes that can be made on the grill!
Back to my research regarding multiple course meals, I needed a name for each of these courses. The first plate in any multi-course meal is named Amuse Bouche or Amuse Gueule. This is a single, bite sized appetizer to wet the palate and begin the taste buds to bloom in anticipation of the next course. After the Amuse, there is the Starter, Soup, Salad, First course, Second Course, Main Course and Dessert. With Eight courses, plates need to be small, so these types of events are usually called Chef Tasting Menus. Each course should be just enough to savor and satisfy without being too heavy or all consuming. The first 3 courses should be lite and refreshing. By the time we reach the Salad, we can start to turn the palate towards more tangy and even bitter flavors that will simulate the taste buds as we move forward with savory foods through the main dish only to end with the sweet notes of dessert.
Like a symphony, it is all coming together! I have the direction to which the dinner will go, the featured protein chosen and a way to cook it. Now I can start to plan the menu.
Our next Full Moon Dinner will be August 13th, 2022 at Prospect Hill Orchards in Milton, NY. Click on the button below for more information or to book a ticket: