12.26.12 A Matter of Courses

Eating 790 xxx
photos by george billard
Our Christmas Eve tradition is to gather with friends and enjoy delicious food. This year, chef MiK (not his main profession) outdid himself with an epic menu of small plates that left few culinary stones unturned. We turned up early at Beaver Dam (other photos here and here) to help with the cooking, but the lion's share had been done and I was happy to play sous-chef for the night. The kitchen features an enormous wooden island to which guests and cooks alike moored themselves throughout the evening. It's where the action was. Round 1: bay scallop ceviche with fennel-grapefruit salad and a drizzle of chile oil. Portions were modest and the courses just kept on coming.
Lobster roll 790 xxx
roll with it
Next were classic lobster rolls: soft buns toasted and stuffed with butter-poached hunks of lobster, sprinkled with chopped scallions. Crisp fried potato sticks dusted with sea salt and herbs on the side. (I only ate half a roll and basically could have stopped there. Thank god for breathing room between courses and antic dancing to the chill sounds of Poolside.)
Kir 790 xxx
the perfect pour
We drank crisp white wine and fruity kir royales made with a delectable pink champagne.
Wings 790 xxx
fry, fry again
Next up were meaty chicken wings fried in duck fat and served with a lemony kale salad. A light drizzle of floral honey over the plate really pushed this dish over the top.
Tomo 790 xxx
festive friends
In between eating there was talking, bustling in the kitchen, sitting in front of the roaring fire, playing with the dog, investigating the moonlit snowscape, listening to music, perusing Beaver Dam's many beautiful art works and opening presents. After the chicken, there were roasted pork belly tacos with a spicy jícama-watermelon salsa, followed by braised short ribs with a salad of fresh oranges and salty black olives.
Cake 790 xxx
pièce de résistance
Dessert was a sight to behold! A burnt sugar bundt cake with unctuous caramel frosting garnished with shards of brittle caramel, accompanied by my black walnut ice cream and a hot bittersweet chocolate sauce. It was a feast. It was a feat.


Ls 790 xxx
good cheer
It was a celebration of all the things I love: inspiration, imagination, creativity, collaboration. Believe it or not, we went home sated but not comatose. We attribute that to having switched to water (and lots of it) very early in the evening. We were drunk, though, on our great good fortune to have such delicious food and such very beloved friends. Wish you were there.

(Don't forget to leave a comment here by Thursday at midnight to be eligible to win three divine spice blends!)


I am drooling! Happy Holidays, Laura :)
Winnie on December 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm —
And to you and yours, Winnie! xo
laura on December 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm —
You had me at Lobster Roll! LOL... looks like a great night!
Julie on December 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm —
Looks like it was a beautiful celebration! Of course the burnt sugar bundt cake with caramel caught my eye... Happy New Year, Laura and G! PS: I made your breakfast cookies yesterday. Mine included tart dried cherries, candied orange peel and coconut. Fabulous and so easy. Thanks!
Jan on December 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm —
yum. sigh.
janet on December 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm —
so fun. you look beautiful and happy. xo
g. on December 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm —
We shared a similar night with friends earlier this month, feasting on six small courses instead of the usual. While the food was wonderful, the best part was the laughter and conversation throughout the evening. Thanks for your inspiring blog and Happy New Year!
Elaine on December 27, 2012 at 11:02 am —
so delicious, so happy, so gorgeous.
Shawn Ouweleen on December 27, 2012 at 11:47 am —
The best looking dish was the blog writer. Happy New Year
Peg and Joe on December 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm —
Those are my favorite kind of feasts!!! Several years in a row we had multi-course meals for Christmas eve, I think the record was around 12 different dishes! Though the portions were a lot smaller than those shown above, only a few bites of each. It could be frustrating sometimes because we all have favorites but like you we we were not stuffed at the end of the dinner. Scrumptious as a whole!! Though it is not common here in France, I do like to spend Christmas with friends as well as family - after all they are the ones we choose!
alwayshungry on December 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm —
This is like a movie trailer! Trailers have their own internal logic and should function separately from the movie they are promoting. If cut well, a trailer can be something you want to watch again and again. But (of course!) it should also make you want to see more. In most cases, unfortunately, people may only ever see the trailer. That’s why trailers should never resolve anything. If a trailer gives too much away, then viewers might feel like they’ve already seen the whole movie and don’t need to look at the film. Always leave them wanting more. A trailer, cut well, needs to arouse, provoke, seduce and beguile. These are romantic adjectives, which is the point; you need to make viewers fall in love with your film even before they have seen it. Again, trailers are about promise and possibility. They have to tap into irrational and emotional impulses. They have to invoke a sense of want and need. To paraphrase Shakespeare by way of John Huston, they are the stuff that dreams are made of. Butter-poached "hunks" of lobster. Did you have to add hunks? The dessert. Picture says all. Lucky woman!!
Susan on December 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm —
Interesting metaphor, Susan. Sadly, no "movie" is forthcoming!
laura on December 29, 2012 at 8:29 pm —
What surprise to see familiar faces in your photos ~ small world! I love this idea - feast with family on the 25th followed by small plates with friends on the 26th...
Prairie on December 29, 2012 at 12:42 am —
How funny - you must tell me whom we know in common! And, by the way, we feast with friends on the 24th, family on the 25th and more friends on the 26th!
laura on December 29, 2012 at 8:28 pm —
WUNDERBAR!! may it go on and on and on, you luscious glutton for life, able to share it with us.
miriam meyer on December 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm —