COMMUNITY: Have you ever been to Philadelphia’s Ball on The Square?

June 9, 2010 ,
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As crazy as it seems, another year has gone by and it’s time for the Ball on The Square!  The Ball is one of the most prestigious social events in Philadelphia due to its incredible mission, dedicated membership and desirable location.  The 2010 Ball takes place on Thursday, June 17th in the heart of the city at Rittenhouse Square Park.  Over 350 guests will enjoy the delicious food of Steven Starr Events, the gorgeous decor of Evantine Design and the smooth vibes of the Eddie Bruce Orchestra.  This year’s co-chairs Brian Kappra and Nicole Cashman promise to make the 2010 gala another sensational summer evening in the Park!  Take a look at last year’s Ball on The Square if you need any further encouragement to step out and join the fun!

{Photos: Steve Legato} 

A floating green oasis in an otherwise urban jungle, Rittenhouse Square Park is a precious gem to the residents and businesses that surround it.  A gem worth preserving and protecting year after year despite shrinking public funding and ever increasing maintenance costs.  The Friends of Rittenhouse Square, the amazing non-profit organization that puts on this incredible shindig every year, relies on the proceeds of the annual Ball on The Square to fund such mundane-yet-necessary maintenance and preservation needs as landscaping, lawn care, arborist services, sidewalk cleaning, fountain maintenance, fence and ironwork repair, security services and holiday lighting.

True, last year’s Ball was a bit wet and a tad muggy upon arrival but co-chairs Alan Sandman, John Pscolar and Brian Kappra planned ahead with aplomb and had plenty of tenting and air-conditioning on hand!   Even the colorful cocktail area was fully tented and guests enjoyed champagne, sushi, tapas and hors d’oeuvres without a hitch in their party spirit.  Of course, having Steven Starr Events provide such outrageously delicious food and impeccable service might have something to do with it.


In addition to the many full-service cocktail bars, trays of colorful beverages were passed throughout the tents to ease up congestion at the main bar.  Tapas plates of Bruschetta, Herbed Goat Cheese Lollipops, Citrus Marinated Olives and Spanish Tortillas with Chorizo were served on the bars.  Our lucite trays lined with the Ball’s colorful logo held “Philadelphian” cocktails made with Blue Coat Gin, Juniper-infused Grapefruit, Orange Blossom Water and a fresh sprig of Rosemary.  (below).

A large ice-topped Luxury Sushi Bar was centrally located in the main cocktail tent.  The talented sushi chefs from the famous Morimoto Restaurant kept the sushi coming as fast as the guests gobbled it up!  Look at this gorgeous presentation of fish!

Other hors d’oeuvres were passed on elegant, stylish trays, including (below, left to right):  Gazpacho Sorbet with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream in Peppercorn Cones, Edamame Dumplings with Shallot-Sauternes Broth in Asian Spoons and Ahi Tuna Tartare on Sesame Chips.

(Below)  Crispy Parmesan Roulade with Asparagus and Proscuitto were lined up artfully on a clean white rectangular tray.  One of the MANY things we love about working with the Starr Events Team is their tasteful food styling – why crowd a tray with multiple items when one hors d’oeuvre creatively staged can say so much more?  Food is ENTERTAINMENT to be enjoyed with your eyes, nose and tastebuds!

Once the rain stopped, and the cocktails were flowing, boy was it a challenge to tear guests away from the open-sided cocktail tents!  But the vibrant dinner tent was ready for the PARTY!  The Victorian Guard House is always the center focal point of the large dinner tent and also serves as our control booth for the duration of the event.  It’s also a fantastic prop for dramatic lighting effects all evening long.   Brian Kappra, a long-standing Ball supporter and Rittenhouse Square business owner, created a festive environment using geometric shapes paired with orange, hot pink and crisp white decor.  Square tables were dressed in either Haute Pink or Tangerine Vinyl, pale gray Bellini chairs provided modern seating and white dance floor tiles brightened up the sections of the existing terrace floor.  The Gerber Daisy, such a happy flower, was used throughout the event from invitations to lighting.

Brian designed the tables using four different high and low “Mod” centerpiece styles for aethetic balance.  All containers, vases and vessels were bright white to provide a consistently fresh contemporary look.  A mixture of blooms in all shades of orange, tangerine and pink provided summertime color.  Square and rectangular white china, white water goblets and tall pink candles completed the tabletop settings.

The first course was pre-set just prior to the guests entering the dinner tent.  Tricky, no doubt, but possible if done with an army of precise and efficient waitstaff such as Starr provided for us that night!  Guests enjoyed Poached Lobster and Lump Crab Meat in White Albarino Wine Court Bouillon, Orange Oil, Haricot Vert, Summer Tri-color Tomatoes, Lemon Balm and Micro Greens.  Garnished with a Sesame Savory Tuille, Lavender and Thyme Salt and served with a Chilled Summer Corn Soup with Julienned Alba Truffles.  Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?

A bustling waiter dashing off to pour some of the delicious wines carefully selected to pair with each aspect of the meal.

We have such tremendous respect for caterers.  Their careful attention to detail in the planning of such a complicated menu is remarkable, let alone the tedious logistical planning that has to be arranged to adequately prepare the meal in a field kitchen with rented equipment.  The pressure to think of all aspects of the service, from each and every ingredient needed to the precise number of serving forks required, is daunting!   Below you can see several Starr chefs working side-by-side preparing the entree course of Kennett Square Mushroom Encrusted Boneless Colorado Rack of Lamb.   The lamb was served with English Pea Puree, Warm White Bean Salad and Dijon Mango Compote.

Ball on the Square Philadelphia Rittenhouse Evantine DesignBall on the Square Philadelphia Charity Gala

Here’s how the finished masterpiece appeared as it was plated to each guest.  A beautiful presentation!

Vegetarian guests were offered a Napoleon of Vegetables a la Provencal with Roasted Eggplant, Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, Zucchini, Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach and Heirloom Tomatoes.

Once the entree was plated to each guest, additional waiters appeared tableside offering a selection of locally grown summer vegetables and hash browns.

Dancing, dancing and more dancing was only interrupted with a dessert service of Chocolate Pot de Creme and Strawberry, Basil and Black Peppercorn Sorbets.


But the food didn’t stop there!  At 10:30pm when the Young Friends joined the party for dessert and dancing, additional passed sweets made the rounds! (Below)  The Vanilla Panna Cotta with Balsamic-macerated Strawberries was a sensational ending to a wonderful culinary experience!

For the past twenty years, the Ball on The Square has been the ONLY event permitted to take over Rittenhouse Square Park with tents, flooring, staging, air-conditioning units, restroom trailers and security vehicles.  Perhaps that’s why it’s such a sought-after ticket, it’s truly a unique event experience in Philadelphia!  But a new day has dawned and the Friends of Rittenhouse Square are now permitting the rental of the Ball tents on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights after the Ball.  If you are interested in renting the tents, a once-a-year spectacular opportunity, please contact The Friends of Rittenhouse Square for more information.  We’ll see you next week at the Ball!


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