Epicurean Dinners Perk Up Dark Winter Nights
At several dinners in February, students were treated to silver tableware, floral centerpieces, elegant tablecloths, and special appetizers and entrées, such as lobster bisque and roast sirloin with béarnaise and port wine sauce. A classical guitarist and a pianist provided musical accompaniment, and many students dressed in their finest evening wear.
The dinner events -- a marked departure from students' typical dining routines -- were part of a month-long elegant dining series coordinated by Residence and Dining Services to bring students together from different residences while providing a break from winter doldrums.
"We were asked by the Office of Student Affairs if there was a way we could get students together from different houses in a comfortable setting," says Rick Rubin, a supervisor with RADS who helped coordinate the dinners. "We thought February was a good time because of the 'winter drabs' we all experience between the December holiday season and the prospect of spring."
Because of logistical challenges (there are 21 dining halls on campus), the organizers decided to sponsor the dinners in seven dining rooms (Tyler, Lamont, Wilder, King/Scales, Chase, Ziskind and the College Club) and invite students from designated houses to each. With much of the furniture removed from the common rooms in host houses ("a feat in itself," notes Rubin), RADS set up stations in various rooms and invited students to mingle and choose from among the culinary offerings.
There were sugar snap peas, baby carrots and grape tomatoes with assorted dips, cheeses and olives at the starter station. Baby spinach salad, black and white bean vegan soup and two kinds of focaccia were served at the soups and salads station. A carving station offered pecan-crusted tofu with mushroom sauce, Parisian potatoes, and roast sirloin. A fish and pasta station followed, and it was all topped off with flavored coffees and vegan carrot cake with caramel sauce and brownie sundaes.
"The theme for each event was simple elegance," says Rubin. Part of the elegance involved sending a personal invitation to each student who dines at Smith.
"The dinners were very popular," Rubin notes. "Some students came dressed up and really got into it."
For at least one student, the dinners were timed perfectly. "I just had a really long week and this meal is just the darn nicest thing that you could have done for the students," wrote Lindsey Watson '03, a resident of Sessions House who attended a February 28 dinner in Ziskind. "It was a great break from routine, encouraged house mingling and showed how much RADS and Smith College are dedicated to serving the students' wishes and needs."
For now, Rubin is not sure when the elegant dinners will be offered again. But students reacted so positively that RADS will likely host another similar event, he says.-ESW
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