Such a wonderful and peculiar feast was this one!
Lorna had only two requests, but they are two of the trickiest and most time-consuming recipes that I make. The Lobster Cardinal is a decadent luxury from the Escoffier Cookbook that requires a flurry of last-minute preparation. The Orange Hazelnut Buttercream Torte is a brilliant cake from Please to the Table that requires numerous steps performed over several hours, with waiting time in between.
No obvious theme for the menu was suggested by the two requests. The lobster dish is a pre-WWI era fancy dish with black truffles, a creamy sauce, and many steps. The cake is a Russian fancy cake. For a wine, I considered a Viognier but opted instead for the classic Veuve Clicquot as the better accompaniment to the classic recipe.
Actually, one theme emerged loud and clear. This would be an expensive dinner. The truffle alone cost $40. I used 6 lobsters in all: four selects for serving, plus two more quarters for the meat. In addition to the Champagne, I brought up a 2001 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro. This was a big birthday, so I didn't mind the expense, but it didn't help to develop a theme.