Recently, my friend Dave recommended me to cater for a friend of his who works at Portland Monthly magazine for a baby shower.  The shower went well, and, lo and behold, I got a call back to contribute food for a special issue of the magazine called "Portland Bride and Groom".  My task was to create an appetizer and drink for a fall wedding at a country club.  Here's how it turned out:

This is the accompanying description I submitted to the magazine:

Appetizer: Apple, Pear and Celery Root Salad in Endive Leaf
The salad was finely julienned pieces of apple, pear and celery root.  This was dressed with a creamy herb dressing and garnished with walnuts, prosciutto and parmesano reggiano.  This was paired with a Tuscan Pear, a cocktail made with pear-infused vodka and orange juice.
Here is a recipe for an appetizer serving of 8:
8 belgian endive leaves, separated from core
1/2 apple, 1" julienne
1/2 pear, 1" juliene
1 small celery root, 1" julienne (about 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. walnuts
2 oz. proscuitto
2 oz. parmesano reggiano
fresh herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, italian parsley)
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Peel and cut apple, pear, and celery root in to 1" matchsticks. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring, and set aside.  Roast the walnuts in a 350 degree oven 8-9 minutes and set aside.  Finely slice prosciutto and saute in a nonstick pan 2-3 minutes, remove to paper towel and set aside.  Shave parmesan with a vegetable peeler and set aside.
To make the dressing, combine sour cream, mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of each of the fresh herbs.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl and whisk to mix together.
Combine apple, pear, and celery root in a medium bowl with dressing and lightly toss with dressing.  Add the prosciutto and walnuts and lightly toss, just coating.  Scoop a tablespoon of the salad into the endive leaf and garnish with a shaving of parmesan and a parsley leaf.
Cocktail: Tuscan Pear
1.5 parts Grey Goose La Poire vodka
3/4 part limoncello
3/4 part simple syrup, infused with 1" slice ginger
1 part orange juice
mint leaf and pear slice for garnish
Combine vodka, limoncello, simple syrup, and orange juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with mint leaves and a slice of pear.
My food choices are almost always season-driven.  When food is at its best (and local), I crave new food as the seasons change.  I inhale tomatoes late into the summer.  In the spring, asparagus and fava beans are on the table until no longer available.  As the wind picks up out of the gorge, and the days are getting shorter, I have an almost instinctual craving for pears and apples.  It's also the time when root vegetables begin to appear again on the table.  The appetizer I chose to make is a refined version of a salad I eat throughout the fall when pears are at their best.  Paired with a bitter lettuce like arugula, or in this case endive, pears are a great addition to a salad.
I came across the cocktail after I saw a bottle of Grey Goose La Poire at the liquor store (I'm a martini person) next to the Grey Goose.  They recommend this cocktail with it.  I thought it would be a perfect way to complement the sweetness of the fruit in the salad.  The cocktail is bright, but not too feminine so it would appeal to both a bride and a groom at their wedding (I made the drink over ice in a low-ball glass with a splash of club soda).  The drink's tangerine color is harkens summer's sunshine, but in a more subdued hue, as if the sunshine of the summer is fading into fall.
Picturing a wedding at a country club made me think the food would be a little more refined, or what I like to call "fussy".  The salad in the endive is a kind of a deconstruction of what I would usually put in a large salad, served family-style at the table.  As the guests at a country club might be more formally dressed, this appetizer is more formally assembled and garnished, but still bite-sized and easily passed by catering staff or plated as a first course (as opposed to a more informal buffet).  The colors of the cocktail and the appetizer play off each other, almost like a painting.  The cocktail is served as a martini, befitting the setting.

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