Monday, January 02, 2006

Christmas in Novato, Part One

The holiday season this year was about staying close to home. It was enjoying the company of family and friends; it was going to bed early and sleeping in late; it was sipping cups of tea while watching the birds outside peck away at the seeds in the feeder. It was playing fast and furious games of Dutch Blitz; it was lighting candles and playing Johnny Cash on the iPod; it was watching Johnny Depp on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and shouting, all together: "Mumbler!"

It was being thrilled and grateful that, for the first time in three years, I was preparing Christmas dinner in my own kitchen instead of greeting guests at the door of a restaurant.

Here it is: an assortment of pictures and a menu.

Breakfast, Christmas Morning

• Pomegranate mimosas

• Marco Polo tea from Mariage Freres

• Poached eggs served over buttered English muffins w/ dill Hollandaise

• Smoked Salmon w/ freshly cracked pepper, caper berries and creme fraiche

Mid-day Meal

• Shallot consommé with sage, thyme and chantrelle mushrooms

• Salad of shaved fennel, Fuji apple and red radishes with Dijon vinaigrette

• Sautéed foie gras with a fig-balsamic chutney

Late Afternoon Nibbles

• Roasted chestnuts, served hot

An Assortment of Cheeses:

• Point Reyes Blue
American Cow's Milk Blue Cheese, Full Flavored And Creamy
• Le Grand Rustique
Camembert Style French Cow's Milk Cheese, Semi-Soft Smooth And Creamy
• Pecorino Stagionato
Italian Sheep's Milk Cheese, Semi-Firm, Nutty and slightly herbaceous
• Dutch Gouda
Nut-like flavors with an open body and is semi-soft to hard in texture

• Fresh grapes, red and black

• Cuvee of marinated olives

It was also battling an ant infestation. To keep it real.


At 9:35 PM, Blogger Sam said...

It all sounds totally wonderful and refined to me.
Good job!

At 4:17 PM, Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Did you even make it out of the kitchen and mingle with the company? My god, you do throw a nice party.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Putting on the Ritz in good ole Novato!Lovely.

At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

Your food looks delicious!
I just wanted to say hi and Happy New Year. I was googling for 'Trader Joes Novato', to find out when the hell it finally opens and I found your blog. Hilarious! Love your sarcastic wit, reminds me of me :)
I too moved to Novato from a very cosmopolitan city to be with the love of my life. It was over 4 years ago and frankly, I still can find few redeeming qualities about this place! The only saving grace being that I mountain bike and I love that I can step outside my door and be on a fire trail in 5 minutes.
My husband and I love dining out as well but we tried Kitchen in the summer and were hugely disappointed..sigh. I call Novato, the home of 'comfort food'...I swear, if I see meatloaf on a menu one more time, I will have to kill myself!

At 6:52 PM, Blogger tinarama said...

I appreciated your post about suburbia and hope you'll write more about the Whole Foods/Trader Joe's thing. I live in Sonoma (town of), where beautiful healthy local food is abundant but quite expensive ... I've been involved in local food politics for several years now & am always amazed at how many folks are going hungry, even here. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on this topic.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Thanks, everyone, for the nice comments! Cookie, I usually don't get out of the kitchen for more than a few minutes at a time - on Christmas Day, though, the gathering was small (5 instead of 20 or 30!), which made it all very relaxed.

Michelle, I feel your pain... it is terribly hard to find good food in Novato. I think Kitchen is worth a second try, though. I've had a few wonderful meals there.

Tina, you're right about people going hungry and/or poorly fed. It's very perplexing...

At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

Hmmm, perhaps you are right, and we should try Kitchen again, but you would have to really twist my arm to get me go to 'downtown'. We decided to eat outside that nice summer night and some redneck decided to smoke right in front of our table (yep, I asked him to move - twice). Which gets to my point that although Kitchen may be a nice restaurant, it is still in yucky downtown Novato - ambiance - NOT! Also, I thought the presentation was a bit boring. I like something so pretty I want to take a picture before I devour it. I left with the feeling that salmon surrounded by lentils, something I could have easily made at home, was not worth 20 dollars. I would hate to write it off completely, though.
We went to Picco in Larkspur last night and the food was fun and inventive - and delicious! Now if a place like THAT opened in downtown Novato.......!

At 4:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife an I mover to Novato not too long ago, and I lived in the city for over 16 years, then Larkspur, San Rafael, and finally here in Novato. I must say that I found this forum with my 2 search words: Novato and Redneck. At first I asked myself maybe I was seeing things, and now I have decided that these rednecks are going to have to change for the better, and they are those who doesn't drives trucks and doesn't know how to cross a 4 way stop, doesn't know how to back out from the parking space, doesn't say thank you when I hold the door open and let them pass, and thinking that by holding a precription number at Long's drugs meaning that they do no longer need to line up when their number came up, and rookie cops checking people out for the wrong reason. All the inconvinence caused by the rednecks simply shows ignorance, I can't wait to excise the hate crime bill to sweep Novato clean very soon.

Have you folks try Boca yet? It is in Novato, but most of the customers are from somewhere else. Mussels and clams is better than Wild Fox (nice also) for the quality of the shellfish used and it was so good that I had 2 of them at the bar.

I know that there are good people really trying hard to make a difference in Novato, but I can tell you this, Cappa is now moved to Santa Rosa after over 10 years in business in Novato, everyday now I saw a few trashy kids outside the WaMu parking lot enterance on Grand St around 4pm doing nothing (no reason for them to be there either), the building at where Masa's sushi locates is still a shit hole currently used as a storage, no one seems to know how to cross the 4 way stop on Grand, nor do people understand who's next to move on, and just the other day some women driving a truck almost strike down a mother with her kid while talking on the cell phone. Novato is by far worst and more redneck than Petaluma, what on earth are the politicans doing here anyway? If these people work in any other part of Marin, they would last for more than a few days.

At 4:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: line 5

...have to change for the better, and they are those who drives a trucks and ....

At 2:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My latest observation is, there are good people here in Novato, not a whole lot but they are here, which is my recent observation at the post office. The majority of the people here are not "city like", meaning that they either don't drive close to speed limit or they simply drive in a rather odd manner (cell phone issue mostly) as if they are from another planet, in fact some of these people could get attacked during the day not being able to see it coming, because they do not look behind their back at all, they are totally unaware of the 360 degree full circle environment around them, they are in a spacy world of their own and hence lack consideration for others, and this table could turn on them with a surprise by the criminals. There is racial attitude that I spotted, and their children basically copy cat that, so this is a long shot to see people here getting along with everybody else without any immature judgement anytime soon. I am a bit more bold with people around me now than before but yet keeping the benefit of the doubt that there are good people in Novato who deserve my generally practice of good intension and treat others with respect, but the ones who are still living in the 20th century is going to have a tough time dealing with me head on: I live here now, and no one has more right that me just as I do not have more right that you.

At 2:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: last line

...and no one has more right than me just as I do not have more right than you.

At 3:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what I want to share with everyone: BOCA restaurant is one of the best restaurant in Novato, try out their "half price" bar menu before 6:30pm Monday to Friday. The place is packed and the food is excellent for the "half" pricing. There was this one time I ordered one of every thing in the bar menu at half price with my wife, and that was quite a fest I must say. If you would like to get more tip on dinning out, send me an email at , I eat out most of my life for the past 19 years so I do know a thing or two about restaurants out and about.

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