Friday, January 07, 2011

What We Did on New Year's Eve

Mr. Lobster
I'm having one of those moments/weeks/days where I'm paralyzed by all I have to say.  I realize I have to start somewhere though, and it feels like something date specific should be at least a little timely, so before the week completely passes me by - here goes!  On New Year's Eve, we hosted a dinner party for fourteen friends, and served lobster stew, caviar, and champagne. Here is the menu:   
Lobster stew brewing
New Year's Eve
December 31, 2010

Farm House Cafe Chicken Liver Mousse
with Pickled Onions and Toasted Acme Bakery Baguette
Blini with Osetra Caviar and Creme Fraiche
 Smoked Salmon, Creme Fraiche and Trout Roe
 Castelvetrano Olives
Marcona Almonds
Billecart Salmon Rose 

Endive and Frisee Salad with Shallot and Mustard Vinaigrette
Fuji Apples, Toasted Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese Crostini

Locke Ober's "JFK" Lobster Stew
Acme Epi Bread
Simi Sauvignon Blanc

Lindsey Shere's Chez Panisse Almond Tart

Andrew dishing up the trout roe
The blini with caviar, smoked salmon, creme fraiche and trout roe were stellar. I ordered the smoked salmon from Barney Greengrass, and Andrew helped procure the caviar and trout roe through a wholesale connection.  I used the Barefoot Contessa's blini recipe (using whole wheat instead of buckwheat flour and a little more liquid than called for.)  Standing at the stove flipping blini, tossing back  Billecart Salmon and popping these little lovelies into my mouth is surely going to go down as one of the high points of 2010 . Never mind the blistering burn I gave myself on my pinky during the process.  Just popped it in a glass of ice water, drank another glass of champagne, and presto!  It didn't hurt a bit.
New Year's Eve Blini with Caviar and Creme FraicheThe chicken liver mousse - procured from one of my favorite restaurants in town - Farm House Cafe - was as fabulous as always.  It's on the menu every night, and it's one of my favorite things to eat.  The salad was our first seated course - Jora helped me plate curly endive tossed with a mustard vinaigrette with a couple of leaves of belgian endive, some matchsticks of fuji apple, toasted hazelnuts and a goat cheese smeared Acme baguette crostini. 
After dinner we played charades
For the lobster stew, I used this recipe, with the addition of some finely chopped shallots, onions and garlic sauteed in a little butter and sherry.   I bought the lobsters - nice, big, feisty ones - for $13.95 a pound at Point Loma Seafoods.  I researched the best way to kill/cook them extensively, and what I saw seemed to indicate there was really no benefit to stabbing them in the head with a knife.  I couldn't bring myself to do what Andrew suggested though, and skewer them through the tails before cooking.  They were pissed off enough as it was.  Instead, I brought about five inches of water to a boil in a massive pot from a turkey fryer - so that the water wouldn't cool down when I added them - and dropped them in head first, two at a time. I cooked them for five minutes, then plunged them into a sink full of ice water straight out of the pot. When they had cooled, I cracked the shells and removed the meat, which went into the fridge, and the shells (minus the carcasses) went into a large pan with lots of cream, milk and butter. That mixture simmered for quite a while, and then went into the fridge overnight to steep.  Just before the party, I sauteed the lobster meat in butter and sherry and added it to the cream mixture to reheat.
Lindsay Shere's Chez Panisse Almond Tart
For dessert, I made Lindsey Shere's legendary almond tart - served after the first dinner at Chez Panisse - or so the story goes. It's actually a smidge underbaked here - I slipped it back in the oven to toast a bit more until it was nice and brown, and then forgot to take another picture (oops!)  This was a big hit and fairly simple to make.  It's just a cookie crust, filled with sugar, almonds and cream cooked to a caramel on the stove and baked until thickened and browned.  You just have to poke the sliced almonds down into the caramel a couple of times while the tart bakes, since they have a tendency to float to the top.  I also had some little trays with Italian nougats and fancy chocolate from Mast Brothers and L.A. Burdick to pass around.
New Year's Eve Table
I've said before that you can never have too much champagne, but I think we actually might have had a little too much this time.   We went through twenty four bottles (!!) for fourteen guests.  That is impressive, even for our friends! The plan had been for everyone to either sleep over or come back the next morning for brunch, but not everyone made it.... let's just leave it at that.  :)
new years day brunch spread
At least a few people were there though, to share in the Barney Greengrass smoked salmon and bagels - along with cinnamon rolls from Con Pane and  fresh squeezed tangerine juice. We've done this before and I can vouch that it is a great way to spend the first day of the new year - or any day for that matter.  Russ and Daughters wasn't taking mail orders the week before New Years, but Barney Greengrass came through in spades, snowstorm or no!

Happy New Year!!!


  1. What a glam menu and elegant evening! My blog was recently added to Alltop- I found you there. Glad I did~will be back to see what's new!

  2. Where can you buy Acme Bakery bread in San Diego???

  3. I actually brought it back with me from San Francisco last week! We drove, and we stopped at the bakery in Berkeley on the way out of town.

  4. WOW!! How do I score an invite to next year's soiree? That spread looks amazing ;)

  5. You just put EVERYONE'S New Year's menu to shame. Congratulations. :) I would have killed to eat lobster on New Years!

  6. Michelle - Thanks! I will save you a seat for next year. :)

    Strictly Foodie - thanks! It was a lot of fun, and I am hoping to do it again. Lobster is a little bit cheaper right now because there's a glut on the East Coast, but it's still definitely an indulgence!

  7. Felt very lucky to be included in this feast! I actually might have enjoyed brunch the best.... ;-)

  8. oh, and the dessert....i KNOW i ate more than my fair share.

  9. Delurking to tell you - I read this whole post with my jaw dropped on the floor. My first thought - "How can I score an invitation???"

    Please send me your address. A bottle of bubbly will be in the mail to you. And a box of chocolates. What else? My car? My house? My antique copy of Larousse Gastronomique?

    Name it, girlfriend! ;)

  10. I'm speechless (because I'm drooling)!

  11. @Julie - Hmmm.... I have been looking for a vintage Larousse Gastronomique... :)

    Mel - next time you'll have to high tail it back from your road trip a little earlier! Hope we can get together soon!