Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Christmas in Novato, Part Two

I will return to my growing obsession with the plight of suburban communities, just as soon as I finish posting my Christmas pictures.

As you can tell, we ate quite well on December 25th. Dined like kings, you might say. I left off at the cheese course in the last post... Here is the rest of the menu.

Christmas Dinner:

• Duck Roasted Two Ways:

1) Glazed with freshly squeezed orange juice, black tea and honey, with a clove-spiked orange in the cavity while cooking

2) Marinated for 36 hours in a paste of white miso and black mushrooms, and wrapped in a lotus leaf

• Tarragon Potato gratin w/ Gruyere & crème fraiche

• Brussels sprouts shaved and sautéed with toasted hazelnuts and tossed in a maple-syrup butter

• Orin Swift's 2004 Prisoner

• Mario Perelli-Minetti's 1998 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

May I simply say that the duck was so extraordinary - both of them, but especially the miso-marinated one - that we were quite literally silent as we ate. I am now besotted with duck. I plan to try a confit next... and perhaps a rillette, or a proper pate. Ah, the possibilities!

If you haven't yet made brussels sprouts shaved, then you must try it immediately. The flavor is entirely different than when you leave them whole. I love them pretty much any way, but this dish was superb. If you need inspiration, Boulevard is serving them as a side with some of their entrees this season.

Other thoughts: the 2004 Prisoner is delicious, but the 2003 was better.

Dessert Course:

• Panacotta infused with mulling spices and drizzled with a light apple-caramel sauce and toasted walnuts

• Gingerbread bread pudding topped with cognac-macerated cranberries and finished with a vanilla crème anglaise

The gingerbread (made by Adam, whose genius in the kitchen cannot be underestimated) was the most incredible gingerbread I had ever tasted. Dark as chocolate cake, so moist it melted in the mouth, rendolent of cloves with the gentle kick of ginger... it tasted of Christmas, pure and simple.

By the time we finished, it was nearly eleven. We eat well on a regular basis, but this day was so over the top that we all looked at each other at one point, spoons in hand, and burst into happy, contented laughter. It wasn't so much that we had eaten a tremendous volume of food - each person only had a few bites of each dish - but the flavors were so intense, and the combinations were so delightful, that we felt immensely satisfied.

Ants notwithstanding, it was a tremendous way to usher out 2005. Happy New Year, everyone! May you be blessed with happiness and love in the coming months.


At 8:29 PM, Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Hey, Jennifer: How about a reply for once? We'd all love to hear back from you.
Me for instance: Where did you get the lotus leaves? I love their flavor, and your duck dish sounds ethereal!! Mm.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

CC: You're right - I've got to get better at answering comments! The lotus leaves were from 99 Ranch in Cupertino. They are purchased dried, in a plastic package, and have to be reconstituted (about 6-12 hours) in a big pan to allow them to expand. We used three leaves for our duck, and also cooked the duck in the leaves for the first hour. If you couldn't find the leaves, you could put the miso/black mushroom paste on the duck and marinate it in a plastic bag...

At 1:00 PM, Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Well, thanks! Gosh, we've got that 99 Ranch right over the bridge in Richmond. I didn't know if lotus leaves were purchased dried or frozen (and now I know).
I think you're a far more serious cook than I...

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm only serious in bursts. Most of the time I make egg dishes and eat cheese. :-)

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