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even before they flung open the restaurant’s doors to the public last spring, the Norrises held a series of dinner parties at their home, not just as a way to test out new entrées but also to welcome their new hires into the Riffle family fold. So it was only natural that they’d celebrate this holiday season — and the orphans they’ve adopted — with a holiday staff party at the Norris home. This time they persuaded Cefalu to prepare his grandmother’s Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Catholic holiday spread he inherited from his nonni, Jeannie Veneziano Cefalu, who imported it to New York City from her native Sicily when she immigrated to the States long ago. In order to faithfully celebrate a proper Sicilian Feast of the Seven Fishes, Cefalu (an alum of such high-profile NYC restaurants as le Bernardin, whom everyone affectionately calls “Chef Joey”) said you must first hold fast to some traditional rules. Rule No. 1: No meat shall be consumed (unless you consider fish meat). Rule No. 2: No baking. Rather than slave over sweets in the kitchen, outsource the preparation of your cannoli to your neighborhood Italian bakery (the Riffle family chose overlook’s di Prima dolce). Rule No. 3: Table talk shall be lively and animated. Bonus points for hand gestures. most importantly, politics must be discussed. Politics, he said, leads to conversational impasses, guaranteeing that your home will return to its former tranquillity by no later than 9:30 p.m., when the last of your guests shuffle home. Rule No. 4: The absence of baccalà (a salted cod dish born from peasant traditions that takes two days to make) disqualifies a Seven Fishes Feast. Baccalà, Chef Joey said, is central to the meal. The baccalà was but one of the more than seven courses. Chef Joey also served up a cold, marinated seafood salad, stuffed clams, stuffed crab, mussels with red sauce, lobster bucatini, Sicilian pizza with marinated anchovies, as well as fried fish cutlets that everyone, even the chef, jokingly referred to as “chicken strips.” The food on the table ebbed and flowed, with one course replacing another, and then another. Plates were cleaned, then filled back up. Conversation tapered off between bites. and before long, this very appropri52

MIXpdX.coM DECEMBER 2012

MIX Magazine December 2012  

Eat • Drink • Get Out • Get Together

MIX Magazine December 2012  

Eat • Drink • Get Out • Get Together

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