The first time I tried to visit Boulette's Larder at the Ferry Building, I was too late. They were closed, but the door to the Ferry Plaza was open, and I could see them inside setting up for a private party. It was a scene to behold with the long table down the middle of the room set with beautiful linens, flowers and crystal, the beautiful copper kitchen, the fireplace, the high ceilings and the open setting on the waterfront plaza.
Over the intervening years I've been to Boulette's many times for breakfast and lunch, and I stop by for salts, spices and little cookies on just about every trip to the Ferry Building. But I never forgot that beautiful table, and never stopped thinking (read: scheming) about how I'd manage to throw a party there someday.
On May 1, 2010 - my 40th birthday - I got my wish. My husband friends threw me the party I'd always wanted with about 15 of our closest friends. Lisa and Luis flew up with us, and we had an absolute blast staying at the Hyatt directly across the street from the Ferry Building. The whole weekend was a non-stop whirlwind of eating, drinking, and eating some more. Zuni, Pizzeria Delfina, Hog Island Oysters... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!
As far as the party itself, I hardly know where to start. I have, quite simply, never had a better time. The food was incomparable and it was so nice to be surrounded by my best friends and people I don't get to see often enough.
One of those people, my good friend Sam Breach, joined us and took the beautiful photos you see here.
In lieu of a cake we had a croquembouche - a traditional French celebratory dessert made from a tower of cream puffs filled with pastry cream and held together with burnt sugar caramel. It was beautiful and I was delighted by the lilacs.
This shot really showcases Sam's eye for color and composition, and my elegant friends Susan and Moira. My friend Jora said it looked like a shot from Gourmet magazine.
The main course was a Wild Alaskan Halibut, with Oregon foraged mushrooms, beurre rouge and fava beans. The beurre rouge - a traditional French concoction of red wine, butter and shallots - had everyone at the table moaning. Literally. Several people said it was the best fish dish they had ever tasted. With the main course, we had two pinot wines - a 2007 Sean Thackrey Andromeda from Devils Gulch Ranch Vineyard in Marin, and Freeman Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. Both were marvelous, but the Andromeda was especially nice. Special thanks go to our friend Tom for supplying all of the wines for the dinner!
The croquembouche was served with whipped cream and a citrus ice cream and paired with a really nice Tokaji. I had to eat the top puff off the tower, but the rest went home with Sam - they had plated cream puffs separately with the sauces. It was certainly a more civilized approach than tearing into the heap of puffs, if maybe not quite as much fun. After the dessert, came mignardise (chocolates and jelly candies) and coffee service.
The dining room was ours for as long as we desired, and we stayed for about an hour after the meal, sipping coffee and Tokaji and chatting. It wasn't until the end of the night, when Chef Amaryll Schwertner was getting ready to leave, that we realized her and Lori's Hungarian Sheepdog Boulette (for whom the restaurant is named) had been under the table the entire time!
After the dinner a few of us went on to Bourbon & Branch, a speakeasy style cocktail bar in the Tenderloin/Union Square area. I loved it, and plan to return sometime when I'm a little less saturated with cheer and good will to sample more of their multi-volume cocktail menu.
For me the 40th birthday felt like a milestone to be marked - a halfway point of sorts and a beginning of my true "grown up" life. This was a fantastic way to celebrate it, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to do it. Cheers and thanks to everyone who joined me, and to those who couldn't make it, you were missed!