Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Downton Abbey Dinner

At last I have the blog post of my Downton Abbey Dinner!  It was a lovely evening.  My family was amazing in the help and acting they provided.  Of course, there were a few snafus, but we worked around them, and the evening went smoothly.

I'll start from the beginning, showing how the evening progressed.

The Arrival:

Our "butler" stood outside on the front porch to welcome guests.  We had the American flag on our flagpole above, but we also hung the Union Jack on the porch near the butler.

Paul played Carson.  However, a small snafu detained him from the initial answering of the doorbell. (There was a mistake with our entree - not enough was made as we ordered!  He and Robert ran out to get the revised order right before the evening started.)  However, our butler-in-training, Mini-Me Carson (Tyler) subbed for Carson, and did a brilliant job of it ("Might I take your coat, mum?" and "Here is your champagne punch, mum" in a very authentic-sounding British accent!)

Mini-Me Carson (Ty) and Lady Mary (Julie)

Then it was time for the first game.  I spent a lot of time preparing what I called "Downton Abbey Easter Eggs" or "Hidden in Plain View".  This was where I placed reproductions of items or beings that appeared in the show out in the various rooms, along with other antique-like items.  The guests then needed to figure out which of the many items that were in and around the rooms were actually related to the show.  This was probably the most enjoyable aspect of the planning.  I needed to make some of the reproductions, which really tapped into my creative side.  

Game One:
While the ladies hunted for the objects, I played three harp pieces for them: Adagietto by Damase, Nadir's Song from The Pearl Fishers by Bizet, and an arrangement of Downton Abbey Suite by Lunn that my harp teacher and I adapted for harp.  I am wearing my Downton Abbey Dress that I had made previously for another event.  

This was one of two favorite Easter Eggs that I placed out.  I found instructions for this craft on this website, although we altered the bell to be an actual doorbell (non-functioning, just for show).  Paul made this for me.  I did the spray painting, but he did the rest, carefully pre-drilling holes for the doorbell, the clip, and the nail that went into the wall, and adhering the name plate to the wood.  It is still hanging on the wall, and I think I will keep it there, periodically changing the note to the butler as the occasion suggests.  

Here were some other Easter Eggs, see if you know which episode they are from and what was going on in the show around them: a bar of soap, a (reproduction) painting by Piero Della Francesca, a telegram (see below for text), a letter opener, a syringe, some letters, a train ticket (also see below), a fan, and a poster about a vaudeville act.  


Train Ticket.  
This was my second favorite Easter Egg.  I made it using Word, and it was not easy!  I only had the photo below to go on, but it was really fun trying to duplicate it.  

This telephone was not originally intended to be an Easter Egg; I bought it to add to the ambiance, but many ladies guessed it, and it did appear in the show after all.  

Isis.  Tyler inherited her once the party was over. 

Baby Marigold.  
My doll is always in my parlor, but I added a silk marigold bouquet to hint at her identity.

Then it was time for dinner.  My faithful staff (Paul, Kristin, Robert, and Tyler) worked behind the scenes.  Lady Mary (Julie) dined with us, amusing us Violets and Isobels with her youthful company.  We played another game between the first course (split pea soup) and the second (Asparagus Salad with Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette, recipe here) called Match the Quote (link here).

The Dinner:

The dinner table.  Julie had rescued me from the wrong tablecloth. (I discovered that day that I had ordered the wrong size; she ran out that afternoon and bought me one that would fit our table with both leaves in.)

A brass servant's bell brought our staff to our table.  We had pesto ravioli (Maggiano's, who made good on the whoops regarding mistake on the size tray we wanted in a most generous way) and Walnut Carrots with Honey Glaze (recipe here).

Between dinner and dessert we played our last game, Downton Abbey Trivia (link here).  Our dessert was Chocolate Toffee Mini-Trifles (recipe here).   And then it was time to depart.  

The Ending:

My wonderful "staff".  Tyler, Robert (the footman Albert), and Carson (who also acted as a footman during dinner - gasp! and poured the wine).  Mrs. Patmore (Kristin) was too shy for a photo.  

The Aristocratic Ladies (Violets, Isobels, and Lady Mary).  Note the hats and tiaras.

And one more with Mini-Me Carson.

We all had so much fun with this.  It was a lovely evening, and in spite of the effort, I am looking forward to our next big event.  It was just so nice to travel into the past!

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