The Preakness may be Baltimore's best horse race, but for a lot of people it's also Baltimore's best excuse to party. To some that means beer and chips in the Pimlico infield. To others, though, it's Crab Louis on Belgian endive and red pepper bisque en croute at the Paolo Gucci Triple Crown Ball.

We can't all attend the Maryland Jockey Club's celebration at the National Aquarium or partake of an extravagant luncheon buffet at one of the corporate tents on the big day. But the organizers and caterers involved with the high end of the Preakness festivities are willing to share their menus and some of their recipes with us. Feel free to borrow from them for your own Preakness party.

THE SOCIAL HIGHLIGHT OF THE week that's open to the public is the Triple Crown Ball on May 14. The black-tie event will be held at the Hyatt Regency, and proceeds benefit the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation. The menu hasn't been completely settled on as of this writing. But Larry Frank, director of catering and conventions at the Hyatt, says they'll start with hors d'oeuvres prepared in front of the guests, probably stir-fried Oriental vegetables and pasta, the Crab Louis mentioned above, and duck breast with pesto on Melba. Cold hors d'oeuvres -- such as salmon spirals on cucumber slices -- will be passed around.

Dinner itself will consist of the red pepper bisque laced with scallops and spinach, fillet of beef stuffed with finely chopped sauteed mushrooms and other vegetables, orzo pasta and baby vegetables (depending on availability). Dessert will be blueberry napoleons garnished with fresh berries. Vendange wines from California, a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon, will be served with dinner.

ON PREAKNESS EVE THE BOARD OF directors of the Maryland Jockey Club will give a party for owners, trainers and guests on the pier next to the National Aquarium. Lenny and Gail Kaplan of Classic Catering People are coordinating the food, which will have an "Old World/New World" theme, in honor of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. Three Little Italy restaurants, yet to be chosen, will provide chicken, pasta and beef or lamb dishes, with Classic Catering People filling in with 12 or so other items. While the menu hasn't been decided on yet, Mr. Kaplan says it will be "grazing" food.

RIDGEWELL'S, LOCATED IN BETHES- da, is the caterer for the corporations that have tents at Pimlico. Ridgewell's Susan Gersten says this is the fifth year it's been doing the food for these elegant "lawn parties." "We know our clients," she says. "We know what they need."

Ms. Gersten sends out four menus for customers to choose from. Here's a sample:

Pimlico Race Course

Preakness Village

Hors d'oeuvres to Be Served

Noon-1:30 p.m.


Chesapeake raw bar featuring

+ plump bluepoint oysters and sweet cherrystone clams Fiery cocktail sauce Fresh horseradish Oysterette crackers

SILVER DOLLAR SEAFOOD GRILLE (to be passed around) Miniature Maryland crab cakes atop crisp Saltines with lemon-caper tartar Fresh scallop cakes Cranberry ketchup

Triple Crown Luncheon Buffet to Be Served 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Black Angus tenderloin rf beef, slow-roasted over pecan wood Barbecue peach glaze Spring lamb chops Rhubarb mint relish Lacy white Cheddar potato cakes Creamy scallion dip Chilled emerald asparagus spears Long-grained white rice salad with early garden peas and carrots Spring onion and pimento Red leaf lettuce with cucumber wheels and sliced white mushrooms Green bell peppers and sweet red onion

Egg quarters and toasted croutons Dijon vinaigrette Rosemary rolls Sourdough breads Hot cross buns Sweet creamery butter

Dessert Buffet to Be Served 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Chocolate ganache lotus cakes with fresh berries and white chocolate Marguerite tart crowned with spun sugar Pink grapefruit cake with pistachios Candied clementine zest and candied violets Passion fruit souffle Toasted butter brickle pecan cake White and dark chocolate horseshoes

From chef Justin Wagner's kitchen at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore


1/4 cup diced celery

1/4 cup diced white onion

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 1/2 pounds roasted, peeled red peppers

1 quart chicken stock

8 ounces heavy cream

sugar, salt and pepper to taste

6 ounces blanched fresh spinach leaves

8 ounces poached bay scallops

pre-prepared puff pastry cap

egg wash (1 egg white lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water)

Saute celery and onions in butter until clear. Add chopped garlic and peppers, saute briefly. Add chicken stock and simmer, reducing by 1/3 . Remove from heat and puree in food processor until smooth. Add cream and blend thoroughly. Adjust seasonings. Distribute spinach and scallops evenly between six ovenproof soup cups. Pour soup into cups and top with puffed pastry disk. Brush top with egg wash. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

From the Classic Catering People


6 ounces raw tuna fillet

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons lemon juice

a few drops of Tabasco

2 tablespoons raw shallots, finely minced

2 teaspoons chopped gherkins

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


6 ounces skinless raw snapper fillet

1 chopped hard-boiled egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

few drops of Tabasco

2 tablespoons raw shallots, finely minced

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


6 ounces skinless raw salmon fillet

3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons lemon juice

few drops of Tabasco

2 tablespoons raw shallots, finely minced

2 tablespoons chopped capers

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper to taste

For each tartare, combine all the ingredients well and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with toast points..

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