Falling as it does during the holidays, my birthday indulgences seem to leak over a bit into the days roughly corresponding to the last two weeks of December. What can I say? It just happens. If I live long enough, I thoroughly expect to celebrate the birthday month as my annual tradition. We're working our way there. Good to have goals.
I want to thank my husband and my friend Linda for a most wonderful day. I also want to share with you some of what I was treated to, and what this year taught me about the food and drink I love. My celebration this year included all my favorite foods: Champagne, Scotch, Wine, chocolate, coffee, more. Pour yourself a glass and enjoy...
Breakfast: Micro-roasted coffee and dark, single-origin chocolate.
Both coffees and chocolate would not fit into a locavore diet. Not for someone living here in Boston, anyway. If you live near the equator you can enjoy coffee and chocolate on a locavore diet. But not if you live here. Coffee and Chocolate are just two reasons why I cannot choose the “100 mile diet”, even if I understand and ascribe to the values behind it.
Shade-grown coffee is something I'm just learning about. I'll have more on this front soon.
Oysters, prosecco, clam chowder, Neptune Burger, cherrystones.
, Gold Bays on left.
Oysters (Kumamotos on right and Gold Bay, left) both West coast, both delicious. The clam chowder was delicate and flavorful unlike so many gloppy, uninspired versions you find around town. The Neptune burger comes with a couple perfectly fried oysters on top. We ate them first, like a little burger amuse buche. They were ethereal.
The burger itself was cooked perfectly (medium rare as requested) and is one of the best burgers in Boston, which I always forget since the seafood here is so good. (Serious Eats/A Hamburger Today had this interesting thread recently on whether or not you'd send back a burger that was over done.) If you do as we did, you can have it all. Sit at the bar, eat a full dozen oysters, split the soup and burger between two of you. Plus, you won't have to worry about sending the burger back.
Nap - because birthdays are for decadence. Answered tons of well wishes on Facebook, Twitter and Email. And birthday voicemails from as far away as Cambodia! Thank you all!!
Craigie on Main is a restaurant that has been “OTL” for some time. On the list because I’ve heard the chef Tony Maws is dedicated to sourcing from local farms, family farms, and that he focuses on organics. Above all, I’ve heard the food is marvelous. It's all true.
I resisted looking at the website or menu so I could just experience the dinner with fresh eyes, or palate. Dinner was a gift of our dear friend Linda (who married us!) and my husband Caleb.
Dinner is a meal best when shared (though I always cooked well for myself when I was single, too.) This dinner, shared with two of my favorite people on the planet, surpassed all expectations. When dining with me, it's best not to come too hungry. I'm one of those people who has to read every item, consider the flavors, textures, the pairings, learn about special ingredients from the server. In other words: start with a cocktail. I recommend the CSB champagne cocktail.
Foie Gras au Torchon - persimmon puree, candied pistachios. Three of my favorite foods on one dish - are you kidding?
Assiette of Three Terrines: Quatre Foies, Fromage de Tete, Cabri Rillettes. Really delicious selection showing a deft hand in the kitchen.
Slow-cooked (sous vide) Tazmanian Sea Trout for Caleb - Sous vide is a very controlled method of cooking food in a sealed (think cryovac) packet around which water is circulated. I was going to write a brilliant article on it as soon as I heard about this "new" method of cooking - now it's on Iron Chef and Top Chef and every other cooking show so you probably don't need to know more than that. Now, the Tazmanian Sea Trout is a fish I have to learn more about. Me the sustainable seafood queen finds a fish I don't know. The trout came with shrimp, mussels, crispy ginger-Serano ham salad, almond-sea urchin broth.
Camargue red rice - Near Marseilles or Arles, France is low and marshy. This nutty, chewy rice has been produced in the protected geographic region for hundreds of years. You can get it through Zingerman's.
Linda had the Slow-roasted Breast of Organic Chicken - with gesiers and thigh confit, bacon-braised spinach, three-bean ragoût, Jerusalem artichoke purée.
I had Vermont Organic Pork Three Ways: Crispy Suckling Confit, Boudin Noir, Grilled Belly - hon shimeji mushrooms, hakurei turnips, pickled pine nuts, satsuma tangerine, fennel puree.
Profiteroles were on the menu. I think I shared.
The celebration continues ...
Some time after Christmas Santa left me a bottle of Single Malt Scotch under the tree, carrying on the great Church family tradition. (Santa always enjoyed Scotch with his cookies at our house.) Meyer Lemons arrive from the in-laws. Caleb brought me an avocado and a pomegranate. These are truly some of “my favorite things”. I enjoyed them thoroughly and almost single-handedly. Meyer lemons have gone into Meyer Lemon Tuiles made by our friend and neighbor Jen who shared them with us. I made Meyer Lemon squares, Genia’s Lemon Cake, and Haphazard Gourmet Girls’ Lemon pasta.
One of my very favorite things, pomegranate.
Pomegranate seeds were sprinkled over a red leaf salad, my serving had an entire perfect avocado on it, too. Both salads had blood orange supremes, shallot, bergamot olive oil and Meyer lemon juice.
I love reading a menu and learning something. What did I learn at Craigie? First, they have very good, knowledgeable staff. They buy locally (mostly) and build much of the menu around what was available that day. "If it's on the menu tonight, it was the best of the market this morning." Our menu was "printed at 5:02 pm" that day - the note on the bottom informs us.
Other menu terms/items that may not be familiar to everyone:
- Torchon - Method of cooking foie gras by which it is placed in a towel (torchon in French) and poached.
- Assiette - assortment
- Terrine - Usually describes a kind of pâté made of pieces of meat in a deep dish with straight sides. Can also be used to describe the dish itself.
- Cabri - goat
- Gesiers - gizzards
- Rillettes - Meat, usually pork, slowly cooked in seasoned fat and made into a smooth paste, then packed and sealed with a thin layer of fat. Served cold.
Our wine was a wonderful biodynamic wine (read more about what this means here), and here in New Year New You, Resolve to Drink Biodynamic Wines.