Studio 54: A Disco Dinner

posted in: Cooking, Experience, Savory, Seattle-ing, Sweet | 114

man in moon cocaine spoon

*This post is an entry for Foodbuzz’ Project Food Blog. The prompt: host a luxury dinner party.  If you like it, vote for it using the widget on the sidebar starting Monday 10/4-Thursday 10/7. I would like to thank my guinea pigs guests- Jamie, Robert and Patrick, Ethan and Efrain, and my stellar husband, Jonas.  They gamely got in fancy dress, played along, and brought their A-game.

table shot

When I think of luxury I think of hedonism, bacchanalia and excess. Studio 54, in its halcyon days, was the earthly embodiment.  Steve Rubell, the flamboyant proprietor of the club, knew a thing or two about luxury.  Every night, hundreds of people lined up outside the velvet ropes of Studio 54 clamoring for admission into an enchanted world. Rubell hand-picked a select few to come in and take part in the madness. He called it mixing a salad- the art of acheiving perfect blend of black, white, gay and straight, celebrity and commoner in order to make the club sing and rumors fly.

fuck me heels

The infamous disco breathed life into bohemian society for a brief moment in time in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s before it lost its luster in an Icarus-like plunge from grace. Studio 54’s mystique was, and still is, unparalleled. Many say that no one will ever come close to recreating the magic that was Studio 54. I was just a wee sprite during the dog days of disco, but the era is particularly poignant for me because I feel it speaks volumes about our country’s rampant obsession with excess.  We are a young country that sometimes acts like a spoiled child with our constant aspiration for more. Studio 54 is a good lesson in the fact that the pursuit of excess often leads to a fiery fall.


I cannot help but draw a parallel to our current economic crisis and the factors leading up to it. Luxury is not an altogether sustainable concept, although we can enjoy it in moderation now and again. The luxury displayed in this post is meant as a whimsical interpretation of the perils of excess. The food resembles drugs that were taken during the disco days, albeit in a much safer form factor. If you must have pills and needles, why not make them from things like pomegranate seeds and pea puree instead? It’s safer, more sustainable, and I daresay more delicious.


I presented all of the food for this feast using non-traditional serveware.  I gave a lot of thought to the party as a whole, and I decided I wanted to foster an intimate, cavalier approach to both the food and guest interactions. By forcing people to use their hands or get close to the food in other ways, I was able to disarm them and thus set a thought-provoking tone for the meal.

mozzarella balloons

During the kiss kiss/can I get you a glass of wine/oh my god I love your outfit portion of the evening, I presented my lovelies with a mozzarella balloon amuse bouche. I will go into greater detail about how to make mozzarella balloons in a full-feature post, but suffice it to say they are one of the best uses of cheese curd I can possibly imagine. I filled these with foam made from tomato water and served them on a bed of red basil and pea shoots.

man moon cocaine

Anyone lucky enough to gain entrance into Studio 54 will undoubtedly remember the club’s logo, The Man in the Moon (with Cocaine Spoon). It was a piece of movable art- essentially a giant moon and animated spoon made to careen into one another throughout the night. It was not mechanized; rather, two employees were stationed under the moon and spoon whose sole job was to move the iconic artwork via rope and pulley.

Foie Gras Powder- the reserve stash
Foie Gras Powder- the reserve stash

I knew I needed to represent the famous logo, so I chose to do it with a piece of culinary art.  I made a bi-layered gelee of watermelon and sauternes then cut it into moon shapes. For the spoons, I dehydrated pears sliced in spoon shapes.

pear spoons

The piece de résistance of the dish, however, is the foie gras powder. It is essentially rendered foie gras that I powdered using a molecular gastronomy technique. It is sofa-king good, each of my six guests were veritably licking it off the mirror on which I served it. I had to bring out backup foie powder just to appease everyone’s craving.

pomegranate grape quaaludes

Throughout the meal, diners had the option to take an inter- ‘lude consisting of red pills (pomegranate seeds), green pills (chardonnay grapes) or blue pills (corinth grapes).  By the end of the meal, the pills were gone, if this gives you any indication as to what a raucous bunch I hosted.

ciggies and matches

Lest anyone need to satisfy their pyromaniacal tendencies or soothe an oral fixation, I provided “cigarettes” and “matches”- both edible. The cigarettes are a Turkish delight called borek I discovered while researching for this post. Mine consist of feta and pea vines rolled in phyllo and they are immeasurably good in their simplicity. They certainly sated my desire to put something long and slender into my mouth- perhaps the smokers amongst you will give them a go.

potato matches

I fashioned the matches from mandolined potatoes dipped in crème fraiche and paprika. While they may not be lighting any real fires anytime soon, they certainly sent tantalizing sparks to my tastebuds.

pea mint puree

The intermezzo consisted of pea and mint puree served heroin chic. Guests were invited to go back for seconds by plunging their syringes into the bowl of a candlelit large spoon filled with puree.

mint pea puree

In keeping with heady decadence, we decided to have dessert before the main course. I created blancmange pyramids of bicerin chocolate, cardamom and gianduja, presented them on oversized knives and dappled them with edible 14 karat gold. They left us piqued to the point of toe-clenching and knife-licking, but alas- the final course saved the day.

blancmange pyramid

Since I had to render a ton of fat to make my foie gras powder, I also needed to find a use for all that luscious foie. I elected to get crazy-lavish and make gravy with it, and when I think of gravy, it’s only natural that I also think of poutine. The brilliant tie-in with poutine and Studio 54 is that happy revelers would pour out of the club at sunrise starving for breakfast and they’d find themselves at diners ordering what they referred to as “disco fries”- aka poutine. This little factoid is so awesometastic I had to include poutine on my menu, no? I bedazzled it with foie gravy and used Okinawan purple sweet potatoes for the fries.


After dinner, we slipped on our dancing shoes and did the Hustle to Patrick’s expertly-chosen Studio 54-era playlist (he is the only guest among us who had actually been to the real Studio 54 in its heyday).  We also climbed on the bubble chair, got super silly with slang flashcards and exhibited budding ninja skills with Samurai practice swords.  Indeed, it was a night to remember, and since they weren’t real drugs, we feel fabulous enough today to do the whole thing again tonight.  The moral of today’s tale? Don’t do drugs, do disco (and if you want luxury, eat it- it’ll cost you a lot less than a mortgage you can’t afford or a staggering loss of brain cells).

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114 Responses

  1. Amazing!! This is the dinner I would like to have been at. I wish I could give you all my votes!!

  2. 1. w o w

    2. you are hardcore

    3. W o w

    4. your friends are very lucky people

    5. W O W

  3. After last week I knew this would be one of my first stops for week three. Everything about this is flawless, from your consistent motif to your mouthwatering photos. You combine your culinary creativity and wit so well, I can’t wait to see more.

    Lick My Spoon

  4. Holy shiznits, Linda! That’s freaking awesome I don’t even know where to start.

  5. This is by far the best post that I have read so far in this contest. Are you old enough to remember Studio 54? Creative, Creative, Creative! I am going to gush over this post.

  6. voted before reading your post… i am speechless after reading too.

  7. This looks fantastic! Kinda jealous of those who were there to eat it all.

  8. I’m speechless! Your edgy creativity and stunning execution is mind boggling!

  9. I’m speechless… voting!

  10. So creative – unbelievable…speechless…Voting…

    – Butter
    (from Running On Butter)

  11. WOAH!

    Just voted for you- this party is INTENSE! Good luck!!!

  12. All Voted… Good Luck!!!


  13. One word – Awesome. You have such flair! you get my vote!

  14. I love how over the top this is. Bad. Ass.

  15. I have to say this is one of the best posts. Your imagination and the details you have in here is just awesome. Nice work!

  16. Un-f*&%ing-believable. What a positively wicked dinner! You. Rock.

  17. Stunning photos and fab party! Better than the club kid days- and far healthier! Brilliant! Wish you the best of luck!

  18. How I wished I lived in Seattle so I could worm an invitation to a dinner at your house!


  19. Wow! I am so impressed! I am new to your blog BUT know about this menu challenged and am so impressed with what you came up with! So unique and fabulous!

    Happy I found you :)

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  20. I am impressed! What a fun night you must have had! Good luck!

  21. Linda, what a creative unique and masterful menu! I love the cool elements like foie gras powder and the pills! This is excellent stuff!

  22. Oh my god!!!!!! The bad old days of disco!! I love it. What an amazing job you’ve done. The molecular gastronomy is stunning! I’d love to drop in if you’d put my name on “the list”

  23. Too brilliant for words and you are definitely the ultimate mistress of chic. I didn’t think you would have such timid friends. I would have licked that moon n foie gras powder right off the glass surface, Mick Jagger style, as you have intended.

  24. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eden Beth, Eden Beth, Ken Leung, Linda M Nicholson, Maven and others. Maven said: One of the most original new voices in Food Blogging. Mark my words people, this blog is special. Don't miss it. […]

  25. WOW.

    I could never even THINK to do this, let alone DO it. Amazing, incredibly creative…and your photos are beautiful! Way to go, Linda!

  26. this is sick! very creative indeed :)

  27. OH. MY. GOD. And that’s all.

  28. @Brian @ A Thought For Food, I’m going to remind them they’re lucky based on this comment, thanks, Brian:)

  29. STOP IT! JUST STOP IT! You are too freakin’ awesome! I don’t even know what any of this is! You have some lucky friends there… and you best invite me to the next dinner party you throw. Otherwise… well, I promise it won’t be good.

  30. I echo the thoughts of everyone!

    I was amazed, blown away, ecstatic… and that was BEFORE I got to the poutine. I’m going to the Best of Seattle link provided to vote for you too.

    Man! I wish I was at this dinner party – you take creativity and fun to a whole new level BRAVA!! BRAVA!! BRAVA!!

    I also really like the new look and feel of your blog.

    Linda Reply:

    @Maven, ooh, I didn’t know about a best of Seattle contest, hmmm…

  31. Oh my. Wowza. I went on over to the best of seattle contest and voted for you for best seattle food blog. you are in another realm with your food play.

    Linda Reply:

    @Lara Alexander, thanks, babe- i will have to see what that contest is all about.

  32. That’s a wowza…you are clearly super creative and talented. Congrats. I’m sure I’ll see you in the next round.

    Linda Reply:

    @Joan Nova, Appreciate it, and hope so!

  33. I’m with Mardi. Feeling very small “against you” in this competition right now. You are really amazing- I’m more and more impressed with each post ;)

    Linda Reply:

    @Winnie, uh ho- please don’t feel that way- we all have our interpretations and from what I’ve seen of yours, they are amazing.

  34. Damn Girl! That is crazy! I can’t wait to hear how you made the Mozz balls and the powder! Where does the line start for the ‘bow in awe’??

    Linda Reply:

    @katja, I will post the balls and powder soon- stay tuned, and thanks!

  35. Just WOW. I’m a giant fan of your humor, and your talent! You do the stuff, I WISH I could do and you make it sexy, too! Love it.

    Linda Reply:

    @Cathy/ShowFoodChef, It’s all about having fun, right?

  36. Your execution is perfect and the concept is superb! Good luck in the PFB challenge. You have my vote!

    Linda Reply:

    @Jazz Rules, glad you like it!

  37. Jesus Christ, Salty.

    Linda Reply:

    @Jethro, I hope that’s a good jesus christ:)

  38. I’m feeling some pressure. Your posts always inspire me to some pithy prose that you seem to enjoy. Sorry, I’m speechless. This is quite simply phenomenal.

    Linda Reply:

    @Barbara | VinoLuciStyle, ok ok, i’ll let your speechlessness slide this once, but you are the comment ninja master- you’ve set a very high bar!

  39. This is above and beyond what I thought anyone would do. Just wow. I love how you used mirrors and mimicked drugs to help create the atmosphere. Something tells me you’ve been waiting to throw a party like this for a long time ;)

    Linda Reply:

    @Baking Barrister, I do enjoy a good crazy party:)

  40. This is a truly thoughtful, creative and well-executed event. Stunning in detail. I’ll probably never taste foie gras powder because I have no idea where to go for such, but I can revel in the idea of how good it is.

    Linda Reply:

    @Christine @ Fresh Local and Local, you can make it! i’ll show you how very soon- super duper easy:)

  41. Linda, you are truly amazing, I am so lucky to have been able to try your fabulous food! I already know you are a STAR (and the nicest person ever!)

    Linda Reply:

    @Shirley, we better break some bread together again soon!

  42. Totally over the top and totally amazing. I thought we threw good dinner parties but clearly I have some things to learn. Congrats!

    Linda Reply:

    @Dana, thanks, Dana!

  43. Simply amazing. Blown away by the imagination in this!!!! Definitely coming back to vote!!!! WOW!

    Linda Reply:

    @Krissy, awesome, thank you so much.

  44. Linda! You have the most unique concept in PFB. I suddenly remember there’s a bar in Japan that has a Mental Asylum theme, with all the syringes and beakers. You definitely have my vote! I love your cigs and matches too. David Tutera will give you five stars for organizing a unique event successfully. I’ll definitely voting for you!

    Linda Reply:

    @Mhel B, I MUST go to that bar! super cool.

    Mhel B Reply:

    @Linda, Ive linked you as one of my faves in Challenge 3. Good luck! Id love to see more of your posts! Glad to have found you!

  45. Truly creative! GREG

    Linda Reply:

    @sippitysup, a day in the life…

  46. I AM IN AWE!! Oh how i wish i could come to one of your dinner parties! ABSOLUTELY fantastic presentation and innovative ideas – LOVE IT ALL!!

    Linda Reply:

    @Debbie, merci a million!

  47. Linda – this is amazing! Best post – am voting now. Loved all the unique presentation and stories behind the dishes. Also fun to learn more about Studio 54. Great work.

    Linda Reply:

    @Sonja, awww- so sweet, thanks babe!

  48. omg, you are amazing.

    Linda Reply:

    @franticfoodie, love you- thanks sweets!

  49. I agree with Mardi! This was just spectacular! I can’t wait to be a guest at one of your fabulous soirees! Oh, and of course you have my vote :)

  50. Linda, Linda, Linda. As I sit here finishing up my own post, I wonder whether I should just throw up my arms and surrender. You should just automatically advance to Round 10 for this dinner. You are incredible, amazing, stupendous. Wow.

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