Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Dressing

Going out on New Year's Eve is almost always a let-down - you pay a lot of money for a pre-fixe meal at an acclaimed restaurant which will be much better on almost any other night of the year, or you pay an inflated ticket price for a concert or club where you'll be sardined in (not a pleasant prospect when you are 5'2" on a good day), and then you have to cart your carcass home with everyone else who's drunk too much, and it likely to either boot on you on the bus, or hit your car on the highway despite the best defensive maneuvering of your designated driver (and some poor sap must be the designated driver - you have got one for tonight, or a hotel room or friend's couch, haven't you?). So we are pooling our efforts with a few other friends, and spending what we would have on watered cocktails on spectacular ingredients and really good wine and champagne (Roederer Estate in the Anderson Valley, American branch of the French champagne house, is definitively the best bubbly for the buck under $50, and better than many over that mark as well, though my step-mother makes a convincing argument in favor of Gloria Ferrer, also a well-priced American counterpart to a French label, which is a bit sweeter) instead.
  • We are doing a New England Clam Bake and Lobster Boil (though our lobsters will actually be pan roasted in clarified butter, a la Boston chef Jasper White, which Julia Child said was the best lobster preparation she'd ever had, and who are we to argue with her?). The shell fish (the main reason I can not keep Kosher) are being procured as I type from Pacific Ocean Market, which has a really astonishing variety of fresh and frozen sea food, with once again, far better pricing than Whole Foods, and their lobsters are live, for goodness sake! Whole Foods, at least in Boulder, will only carry them frozen as of last year and they. are. not. the. same. If you think it's too cruel, don't eat them. We slit their backs first so they don't get boiled alive, but my god, they are giant sea cockroaches who will outlast the human race, so we should take advantage of our higher evolutionary status before we wipe ourselves out. Then the world lobster population will be free from my predations, but until that day, we have higher brain function, and they taste so good with butter. Pfft.
  • Pacific Ocean Market also has steamers, which I have never seen before outside the Eastern Seaboard, so I am quite excited to have them tonight. They are clams that, as the name suggests, are steamed. Then you prise them out of their shells, and holding the black "foot" attached to the clam, dunk them first in salt water (to wash off any grit) and then in melted butter (because it is tasty), and then you suck down the whole clam, including the foot, which slides out of it's gritty skin as you clasp it. It takes a certain level of comfort with your food to do this, I'll allow, but if you can handle it (and seafood comes in more science-fiction-seeming guises than other food stuffs), it is a sublime clam-eating experience.
  • These delicacies will be prepared by my Dearest Darling (his culinary skill is not why I married him, at least, not the only reason) along with:
  • Meatball lollipops - tiny lamb or beef meat balls on skewers with a variety of sauces;
  • Assorted salads, including my favorite - shaved fennel simply dressed with shaved Parmesano Reggiano, sea salt, and balsamic vinegar (here, Whole Foods house brand, 365, is actually the best bang for the buck, being both cheap and deep). This salad is a wonderfully refreshing dish in summer (he first presented it to me at a birthday dinner one June), but when better to have your favorites than at the New Year?
  • Dessert will come from two shops in the Highland neighborhood of Denver, where the evening's host's live, and will consist of aromatic cheeses and sweet cupcakes, and probably Tokaij and port as well - we are all sleeping over, after all!

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