If you take part in the LA nightlife, more specifically, the club scene, then you’re probably familiar with club promoters. You may not know them personally, but you know what I’m talking about. They are the people who throw nightly parties at various venues around town. Club promoters are different from club owners, who are the people who actually own the venue. Club owners have thrown down the fat cash for the real estate. Club promoters, however, are the ones who come in at 6 pm on Friday night with their crew – sound, lighting, visual effects, dj, go-go dancers, etc. etc. They don’t pay the rent for the place, but likely they share revenues from the cover charge and the bar with the club owner. The promoter doesn’t own the place, but when the bass starts to boom, well, really, the promoter owns the place.
As greasy, slimy, pale-skinned, fat with cash but gaunt with drugs as promoters are, sometimes I wish I could be a club promoter. For what better career in the world is there than to cruise from lush club to plush club with your entourage and throw the best damned parties that anyone has ever experienced? I love the music, I love the dancing, but what I would love the most is seeing everyone enjoying themselves. What a rush. Throwing parties gives me a rush.
When it really comes down to the shiny disco balls, though, I know I’d never make it as club promoter, so I stick with entertaining at home. I love throwing dinner parties.
We started with sangria for a Spanish-themed dinner party.
Though everything else on the menu was heavily influenced by Spain (posts to follow in one lovely week-long DJ set, with a few restaurant remixes thrown in), the avocado citrus salad with toasted walnuts and citrus vinaigrette could not have been more California. (Actually, that's not true because the salad could have been more California if left the citrus off and though the nuts were toasted, they were way too fat to be from California.)
There is a reason that there are oranges, lemons, and limes in sangria. Citrus fruits grow in Spain. Yes! It's incredible! Let me impress you with my knowledge of global-economics. Spain is a leading world producer of oranges, lemons, and limes, and is number one for those citrus fruits in the European region. Okay, so that's just my ability to google on demand. However, I don't recall ever seeing avocadoes on a menu in a Spanish restaurant. I couldn't help the avocadoes though because everyone f--king loves avocadoes. Is it enough to say that the Spaniards had a very strong influence on California's history? *eh* It's good enough for me. At least I didn't try to serve guacamole.
"Recipes" for salads are totally stupid. I mean seriously now, who doesn't know how to make a salad?!?! But since a salad is just cattle feed without dressing, the recipe for a salad is really for the dressing. Unless the recipe tells you to use a bottled dressing, in which case you should never speak to the person who gave you the recipe.
Avocado Citrus Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Citrus Vinaigrette
To make the dressing, whisk together ¼ cup fresh orange juice, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon of cumin powder, a dash of black pepper, and 1 garlic clove that has been very finely minced with 1 teaspoon salt. (I actually had to use very finely chopped onions because one of my guests is allergic to garlic - the horror!)
Pour ½ cup walnut oil (olive oil is okay, too) in a slow, steady stream into the bowl while whisking vigorously.
Obviously, everything should be adjusted to personal taste, then tossed with greens.
Avocado Citrus Salad:
Though I have a shameful love for iceberg lettuce, and really, any type of lettuce will do, I used mixed baby greens. Washed and dried, natch. (Even if the greens come from a bag!)
Avocadoes are simply sliced, but do this last, right before serving since they will turn brown.
The citrus are oranges and grapefruits. I have seen chefs get knife-happy, cutting all the way through the skin, then slicing out each segment from the fruit, but I don't like the way the fruit looks. I peel the outer skin of oranges and grapefruits by hand, then peel off the transparent skin from each segment. It requires a lot more time and dexterity to get all of the white pith and veins off the "back" of each segment, but it looks so much better, and since this is a California salad, looks count. ;)
To toast walnuts, simply shake them around a hot pan over medium heat until they smell like nuts. I have no idea how else to describe the point at which the nuts are done. I thought about candied walnuts, but decided they would be too sweet with the vinaigrette and the fruit. Obviously, any kind of nut is fine.