Sweet and Sour Scepters (chicken kebabs) are popular with Ray Christiaansen, top left, and Melanie Kunes, center right, flanked by Malibu mom Claire Meyer. Checkmate Cake, bottom right, and Bishops' Hats, top right, filled with broccoli and cheese complete the menu. (Photos by ANACLETO RAPPING / Los Angeles Times)
Kasparov and the Cake
By SARIA KRAFT, Special to the Times
If your second-grader discovered something
other than soccer and a swimming pool that would pry her away from TV,
you'd throw a party, too.
Our opening move in the menu. Malibu moms Annie Donnellan and Gabrielle
Harris have just launched Indigo Cafe at Kanan Road and Pacific Coast
Highway, and the chef there, Trudi Reynolds, has three kids and gets
the concept. They will take care of a big portion of the feast, and
we gather an army of possibilities, prepared to surrender pieces along
the way. The Queen's Pawn Salad is banished from the buffet. A Marshmallow
Moat sinks before the drawbridge. Ditto the Gingerbread Castle. Bishop's
Havens begin as stuffed pita pockets and become turnover hats.
|I ask a friend to coat a "treasure box"
with candy coins and hard candies and sugarcoated fruit jellies in the
colors of rubies, emeralds and amethysts. This will be filled with black,
white and red candy delights.
Only a few days before the party, everything seems in place. Then, two days ahead, parent volunteers cancel commitments for a vegetable platter and game prizes.
No problem. Eric, the deli manager at Ralphs, offers a brochure. I ask if he'll skip the greens and alternate colors - red radish, jicama, black olive, cherry tomato, cauliflower and red bell pepper. He suggests white enoki mushroom and adds purple cabbage dividers. I pick up the platter four hours before the party.
As for prizes, toy stores are short on Camelot. I try the Game Keeper, found in most larger malls, and gather chess puzzles and more.
Setting up is a challenge. Other activities are going on at the camp here at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, and the summer weather has camp and party competing for the same shade. But two moms show up an hour before the party with babes, brie, crackers, cookies, candies, chess-cake and a willingness to help out. My best pal brings five little ones and an amazing clean-up stamina.
As the kids begin arriving in costume - child knights and damsels, pint-sized pawns and rooks - we're ready. There are tables set up for chess and, even better, a larger-than-life lawn chess game whose pieces reach above most of the kids' knees.
We herald a costume parade and set the mood with baroque hit-meisters.
Handel and Vivaldi are good, but we try not to overdo it and switch
to Spice Girls when the kids seem as if they're starting to fade.
(Articles have been prepared for the web by Academic Chess.)