While researching the sheer curtain post from yesterday, I found this photo of a richly decorated hors d'oeuvres room in the Park Avenue apartment of Richard E. Berlin (he was the longtime chairman of Hearst as well as the father of Brigid Berlin, part of Warhol's inner circle). This small space- actually, I'm assuming it was small- was located just off of the dining room and was intended as an area in which to serve cocktails. I've heard of these rooms referred to as "cocktail rooms", but the term "hors d'oeuvres room" is a first for me.
Decorated in the Venetian manner by the firm Thedlow, the room featured a pair of blackamoors (both holding champagne buckets, no less) standing guard over a crystal and mirror console. Good heavens is that console dripping in overwrought glamour or what? The beige-gray walls were painted with a black balustrade at the bottom, while a painted black canopy with gold fringe framed the top of the room. It's totally over the top in a fantastical way- and that's the beauty of it.
So, what to serve as hors d'oeuvres? Well, Sausage Balls ain't gonna cut it. It has to be something fancy but tasty too. After all, guests in the Berlin home weren't wearing denim and flip-flops to imbibe in the hors d'oeuvres room. After looking through some of my old cookbooks, I found these little tidbits that seemed to be the order of the day.
*Moulded Lobster Canapes (from For The Hostess A Handbook For Entertaining)
One-half tablespoonful of finely chopped onion and three tablespoonfuls of butter are sauteed together with one-third cupful of chopped mushroom caps for five minutes. Two tablespoonfuls of flour and two-thirds of a cupful of cream are added to this, and the mixture is cooked until it thickens. One cupful of chopped lobster meat is then added with two tablespoonfuls of grated cheese and the yolks of two eggs beaten slightly. This mixture is seasoned with salt and Cayenne and piled on circular pieces of toast. Grated cheese and soft buttered bread-crumbs are sprinkled on top, and the canapes are browned in the oven.
*Czechoslovak Shells (from A Book of Hors d'Oeuvre by Lucy G. Allen)
Brush the inside of tiny shell molds with olive oil and set them in a pan of cracked ice. Place in the bottom of each a small amount of clear tomato aspic; when firm, lay in small bits of ripe olive, pimiento and green pepper, together with antipasto cut small. Set these with aspic and continue until the mold is full. Use only enough aspic to hold these pieces in place. The molds should be filled mostly with antipasto, with enough of the olive and pepper to give the required color and enough of the aspic to keep the shape. Turn these molds out, when firm, on round cuts of sauteed bread.