The IWOC Winter Holiday Party 2021 came and went. And what a swell soirée it was! Everybody who is anybody was there -- as many as in pre-pandemic days, if not more! Nevertheless, there were many, many anybodies who were not there. Those sweet souls were sorely missed. Perhaps they’ll join us next time? Oh, darlings, let’s hope so!
The whole affair took place in the Rainbow Room at the Waldorf – oh, wait. Silly me. I’m thinking of something else. This one was at the exotic Star of Siam on Illinois Street, just east of that Great Street. En masse, in masks, we all descended into the restaurant’s lower level, entering a warmly lit room spacious enough should anyone have the wild idea of breaking into the Lambeth Walk.
The maître d' asked if we would like music piped in. I politely told him, “No thank you, our lively conversation and irreverent wit will be musical enough!” Truth be told, our dear Cole Porter had another engagement and when asked, Noël Coward refused on the grounds he will not play second fiddle – or as he so cleverly put it, second piano to anyone, let alone to Cole. So we went without music – but nothing else!
Did someone say, “food”? I was just getting there! Would you like a grand tour of the buffet table? Come this way, darlings. I will point everything out – just stand back a bit, please. In case you dribble.
First, there were the hors d’oeuvres, starting with the satays: Spears of grilled chicken and beef, to be dipped in peanut sauce. Yes, peanut sauce! Can you imagine??? There was most flavorful gyoza – chicken & veggie-filled dumplings wrapped in a delicate – what would you call it, noodle? Pasta? How should I know! I never touched a cooking pan in my life! There were rows upon rows of veggie spring rolls, cut in adorable bite-size morsels. And a refreshing cucumber salad steeped in a sweet-sour vinaigrette. Je ne regrette pas la vinaigrette!
Let’s move on to the entrees, shall we? There was a bowl of Pad Thai piled high – a dish comprised of noodles and other sparks of deliciousness. There was cashew chicken! mixed with pineapples, pea pods, bell peppers, straw mushrooms and those devilish dried hot peppers (on which I specifically warned the chef to go lightly. Still, one poor gentleman found himself choking on an errant hot pepper hidden amongst the chicken. I offered him my flute of champagne. Crisis averted! Merriment resumed.) And then there was my personal favorite – slender slices of tender beef frolicking amongst the broccoli in an outrageously savory oyster sauce. If I could, I would bathe in it! Dessert: fresh, juicy slices of pineapple and papaya. Exquisite! Sadly, there was no tureen of mock turtle soup, due to the shortage of mock turtles. But we managed.
Sated to the brim, everyone was in fine fettle. After my brief, incoherent “Welcome!” speech to the guests, I passed out wee boxes of Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels I procured from a charming castaway in Tahiti who went by the name of Trader Joe. He was hawking these decadent treats from a rather rundown straw hut. Feeling sorry for him, I bought out his entire stock and because of that, he is now retired comfortably in...where else? Tahiti!
Throughout the evening the banter and laughter flowed as easily as the prohibited beverages. In the end, the floor opened up, revealing a sparkling swimming pool beneath. We all joined hands and dove in, fully clothed, splashing around, gaily singing and screaming as top hats, tiaras, satin heels and sequined masks bobbed about us.
It was an affair to remember.
Happy 192 – I mean, Happy 2022, everyone! Cheers!
-- Laura Stigler
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