And yes, I know tomorrow is a holiday for many (i.e. Christmas) which we did celebrate growing up (my father is Catholic) however my mom is Jewish and I am an atheist. So Dec 25th is no longer a religious holiday, and only somewhat of a cultural holiday for me.
But, it is a good excuse for a party – and in my circle of friends I have many friends who are also not celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday (or even in many cases as a cultural one). Of course there is a tradition of Jews eating out at Chinese restaurants around Christmas but as an alternative to that, I’m having a non-holiday themed dinner party.
Here is the menu, I’ll try to take some photos tomorrow (and today as I’m preparing).
Fresh sourdough and Pumpkin Quark. Quark is a German dish, a dairy product but something like yogurt – very tasty. I’ll also have some cheeses and have asked others to bring additional appetizers
Roast, free-range, boneless leg of lamb. Rubbed with mint, garlic, sea salt, fresh pepper and other spices. Served with homemade mint sauce (organic apple vinegar, fresh mint, sugar & salt to taste).
Roast, Duroc pork loin. Rubbed with a dry rub of spices (cloves, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and more). Duroc is a type of pig prized for the quality of the meat. Very juicy, full of flavor and not at all your typical supermarket, too lean pork.
Panko crusted white fish (a very thin, fatty local white fish) with light spices quickly fried. Served over wilted beet greens & salad mix with a slightly sweet & spicy dressing)
Pear, goat cheese and arugala raviolis served with fresh ripe pears and a gorgonzola cream sauce. Pasta is fresh made and purchased from the Farmers Market on Saturday.
Oven roasted carrots and golden beets w/sea salt
Roasted Brussels sprouts w/rice vinegar dressing
brown rice w/dried cranberries and zante currants. The brown rice is a local rice I purchased at the Farmers Market and is amazingly flavorful
With the meal I will serve two red wines, a local CA Syrah and a Pinot Noir. Both are from small vineyards with production of <450 cases of each wine. One is a 2001 and the other a 2004.
For the non-drinkers I have a couple of bottles of non-alcoholic sparkling juices, cranberry-blueberry juice, and ice tea
With dessert I have a local eggnog from Mitchells Ice Cream and will make Blue Bottle coffee.
simple custard pies – homemade pie crusts, farmer’s eggs, organic whole milk, sugar
homemade apple pie – apples of three varieties (all organic), spices, homemade pie crusts
Both ala mode if people want
almond “sandies” cookies (if I have time and get the recipe right)
and for those who want it, a selection of phenomenal hot chocolates – spicy or a Oaxacan variety.
And some people may also bring other desserts.
So that’s the planned menu, as I continue cooking, cleaning and prepping this evening the menu may change yet again. Almost everything is not from a specific recipe (other than the desserts), nearly every ingredient I’m going to be using is organic, mostly local to CA, and minimally processed. I expect up to 12 (small chance of close to 15 people) tomorrow with a variety of food restrictions from vegetarian to pescatarian (eats fish) to eats nearly everything.
Of my recent dinners, this will end up being the most expensive – in no small part due to the wine and meats. But assuming we have 12 people it will still be less than $25/person (including drinks) and that includes purchases of staples which I will have for many future meals as well (I bought a gallon of rice vinegar for example). The meats I’m using are all extremely high quality and purchased from my local neighborhood butcher – who pretty much only sells organic, free range meat products (and most are also local). Most of the rest of the ingredients were purchased at my local produce market, or at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, with a few additional purchases at Rainbow Co-op a vegetarian co-op grocery story which has extremely high quality foods (but is usually hard for me to shop at since I don’t have a car).
All told, this is how I celebrate holidays – feeding friends, eating great, local, food, prepared simply but with a lot of care and attention. We may watch some films, listen to music, and play games as well, but mostly the celebration for me is in the cooking, in the preparing of a feast for my friends old & new. In 2008 I anticipate having a dinner at my place at least once a month, probably more than once in many months.