I used to really struggle on New Years Eve. I found it difficult to surround myself with parties of people excited to bring in the New Year – at the time it felt like people were wishing the time away; a difficult concept for someone who adores (adored?) living in the moment.
At any rate, my teen angst is now behind me and we’ve settled into a New Years Eve tradition that brings me great joy over the last 4 or 5 years. A quiet evening surrounded by food and friends and great beverages. We had the opportunity to host a group of 6 dear friends last night and feasted like kings and queens. Dinner was a 5-hour progressive tasting marathon and was a lot of fun. Great conversation, friendship and revelry were had.
I took the opportunity to try to cook things I’ve never done before – a risky proposition to learn with an audience so I balanced it with some tested favorites. A dear friend who also helped in the kitchen suggested surf and turf so we played on that theme through the evening.
Menu of the night:
- Cheese tray to die for – XMas leftovers and more than 12 cheeses from around the world. Included preserves, 3 types of homemade bread, our own slow roasted tomatoes, charcuterie and preserves to match. We opened one of the 4 jars of amaretto pears we made this year (my first sampling of them) – pleased to say they turned out awesome!
- Oysters Rockefeller (panko, pancetta, oregano, parsley, parmesean, beemster) and mussels steamed in white wine and our ’09 tomato sauce.
- Naked Ravioli poached in butter and a farmers field full of sage leaves. Matched with homemade focaccia (a no-knead variety which uses a small amount of potato water and yukon gold potatoes).
- Butterfish sashimi on endive with green onion and citrus. Our friend P brought this to the table – wonderful amuse bouche.
- Lobster bisque with whipped cream with Canadian Sherry and Vanilla (we bought when in the Dominican 2 years ago). I had never made – or eaten lobster bisque and think this may have been the hit of the night. We stole a trick from Alinea and served the bisque in a bowl – the bowl was served on a plate covered in fresh mint and boiling water to pair the smell of mint with the taste of the bisque. It’s amazing what flavor you can bring from the shells – the part so many throw out. It is also a heck of a way to extend your lobster budget.
- Beef wellington with Lobster Newberg (lobster cream sauce on egg noodles). This was my first attempt at wellington and though I would change my approach slightly I am thrilled with the results.
- Homemade local apple sour cream pie.
The best thing served on the table last night? Great conversation and laughter shared amongst friends. Leftovers have been stunning so far – including a lobster newberg sandwich.
The night officially ended around 3AM – we skipped a final cheese course due to caloric overload.