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PARTY LINE : Dances With Investors


Before Kevin Costner and Michael Roberts opened their Pasadena restaurant, Twin Palms, they invited 480 of their closest and dearest friends to a dinner party. The guests admired the resort-like decor. They checked out the two old namesake palm trees. And then they helped themselves to a huge buffet.

Little did they know that they were mere guinea pigs, in attendance to try out recipes and give the staff a chance to rehearse. After all, you can't just open a 450-seat restaurant without practicing on somebody.

You certainly couldn't tell it was a rehearsal from the food. Mayor Richard Riordan and Nancy Daly, former Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates, actress Mitzi Gaynor, actor Esai Morales and the rest of the guests gobbled up platters full of grilled sausages with flageolet beans and sauteed apples, rotisserie chicken, cassoulet, salt cod mixed with mashed potatoes, and smoked duck straight off the grill.

Still, Roberts noticed a few arched eyebrows in the gathering. "It's part of the restaurant-opening process," he says. "Not everyone is going to understand the cassoulet."

Roberts made his reputation at the former Trumps in West Hollywood with outrageous combinations such as roast duck with black beans and pickled pumpkin, Brie-and-grape quesadillas with sweet pea guacamole, and plantains with caviar. Now he's trying to get people used to his peasant-rustic Southern French cooking. "Some criticized my beef shank for not being New York steak," he says. "They just don't know a whole lot. This food is not about chef's creativity, but about doing things simply and correctly without the attitude."


These deep-fried artichokes were eaten by the handful as if they were popcorn. Roberts serves this appetizer with shavings of Parmesan cheese, Kalamata olives and caper berries. Baby artichokes--they range in size from one inch to three inches--are available in most markets now. Buy the smallest you can find.

DEEP-FRIED BABY ARTICHOKES WITH AIOLI 50 baby artichokes Oil Salt Aioli Dipping Sauce

Discard stems and tough outer leaves of artichokes. Trim 1/4 inch off top of artichokes. Cut into quarters. Heat oil for deep-frying in saucepan. Place artichokes in hot oil and deep-fry quickly in batches until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels.

Place on serving platter. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately with Aioli Dipping Sauce. Makes about 8 servings.

Each serving, including all dipping sauce, contains about: 365 calories; 264 mg sodium; 34 mg cholesterol; 34 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.47 grams fiber.

Aioli Dipping Sauce 8 cloves garlic 1 egg yolk, at room temperature Juice 1 lemon 1/2 teaspoon salt Dash white pepper 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Puree garlic in food processor or blender. Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and pepper in bowl of food processor and process until smooth. Add pureed garlic.

With processor running, slowly pour in steady stream of oil. Continue processing until sauce is thick, shiny and firm. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Note : Although many recipes call for uncooked eggs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found them to be a potential carrier of food-borne illness and recommends that diners avoid eating raw eggs. Commercial egg substitutes that have been pasturized may be used in place of raw eggs in certain circumstances. Check egg substitute package for applications.

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