Monday, December 21, 2009

The Fête for James' 40th at Farm House Cafe

Blow James blow!
It's been a busy month, as December always is - but I would really be remiss if I let any more time go by without telling you about the fabulous party Olivier and Rochelle helped me throw at their restaurant Farm House Cafe for James' 40th birthday earlier this month.
Party people
We took over the restaurant with 27 of our closest friends, and Olivier served an amazing five course meal that started with champagne and chicken liver mousse, and ended with house-made chocolates. (Diet?? What diet???) In between we enjoyed a salad of endive, Cabrales blue cheese and spiced pecans with pears and for the main course, a choice of seared scallops with ricotta gnocchi, porcini mushrooms, roasted cauliflower and beurre blanc sauce or sirloin steak with mashed potatoes, red wine reduction, caramelized onions and lobster butter. And yes, it was every bit as good as it sounds.
Seared Scallops with gnocchi, porcini mushrooms, cauliflower and beurre blanc
With the main course we poured a choice of a Vouvray (white) or Carver Sutro Petite Syrah (red) - which was very good and very popular. We went through seven bottles of the red. (It has been duly noted that you cannot order too much red wine or champagne for parties in December.) The wine pairings were suggested by Rochelle and Olivier's wine buyer who went above and beyond to obtain the Carver Sutro for us because he thought it would be the perfect thing - and he was absolutely right.
Le Cheese Plate
Because the birthday boy is a cheese fanatic, I requested a cheese course to be served family style after the entree. These were delightful choices - if only I could remember them all. With this we poured a Tokaji - an irresistible dessert wine from Hungary.
Happy Birthday James!
Olivier also did the cake - a by-request combination of lemon soaked genoise filled with lemon cream and whole blackberries - topped with a layer of passionfruit mousse and gelee. Each piece was served with a white chocolate decoration. There were almost 40 candles on the cake - they were supposed to be sparkling candles, but they were more like hissing and spitting candles. Not quite the effect we were going for, but amusing nonetheless.
party favors
For the party favors, I did up little parchment bags with labels that also served as place cards from Sycamore Street Press. I ordered match books from Dippylulu - made to look like Penguin classics, but with fart jokes on them (Van Winkle Ripped, Great Expellations, Fart of Darkness) we also had some of James' birthday dog tattoos (long story) and some phenomenal caramels from Bon Bon Bar. I also did an "ABCS of James" which I printed and folded up in the bags - and the M&Ms said James is 40 and Birthday Dog on them.
Luis and Bryan
The flowers were from Green Florals in Hillcrest - they did a beautiful job at a very reasonable price. I asked for edibles and succulents with dark red accents, and that was exactly what I received. The table arrangements included kale and succulents with dark red dahlias and orchids, and I ordered one large arrangement for the bar that included a beautiful giant kale and artichoke. The shop is located on 4th just next to Arrivederci Pizzeria and is well worth a visit.
Olivier's Handmade Chocolates
Last but not least, the meal concluded with Olivier's chocolates. I never cease to be amazed at how good these are - they rival the best anywhere. From top to bottom, the small pointed ones were salted caramels in dark chocolate - the triangular ones are mock Toblerone - with crunchy bits and toasted hazelnut, the large hexagonal ones were filled with marshmallow and crunchy nuts, and the white chocolates were filled with raspberry buttercream. A few of these were left over and we savored them for days. He changes these up frequently, and offers them on the dessert menu with a cup of coffee.

We've enjoyed several good meals at Farm House, but this one - no pun intended - really took the cake. I will always be grateful to Olivier and Rochelle for making this occasion so special. It was a wonderful experience and I can wholeheartedly recommend the restaurant as a fabulous place to throw an intimate dinner party.

More photos from the evening can be viewed here.

Farm House Cafe
2121 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 269-9662
open for dinner Tues-Sun, and Sunday brunch, which I wrote about here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday James!

Today is my darling husband James' 40th Birthday. It's a little strange to think we've been together for a quarter of that time, we met shortly after his 30th birthday, and just before mine. In some ways it seems like a good, long time, and in other ways it feels like a blip on the radar screen. I suspect that feeling will only increase as the years go by, which makes me a little melancholy in a way. It's a strange thing to know that the best years of your life are flying by - I guess all you can do is hold on to what you can, and enjoy them the best you know how.

Last night we had a 10 hour power outage due to the Great Storm of 2009, so we spent the last night of James' 40th year sitting in front of the fire with candles all over the house, drinking beer. Altogether, it wasn't a bad way to usher in a new age - but of course we have big plans for tonight too. Stay tuned for more on that coming soon!