It was the eve of the New Year, and we were stay-at-homes again, at least in part because we love the opportunity the holiday offers for enjoying simple dining pleasures (after all, the star of the show is the midnight hour itself). I continue to think of this evening as very grownup, and yet pretty magical. that’s in spite of the fact that, purely as an astronomical phenomenon, it’s an invention, albeit an old one. I also think that the food to accompany it, and there must be food if it’s a feast, should be elegant, even aesthetic, minimal, and suitable for the best champagne the pocket can support.
The meal this year was simple, and definitely an event, thanks to Eataly’s Luca Donofrio, above all to the kitchen skills of a good friend, and to the generosity of two others, and, at the very end, to the good counsel of the gentleman at Heathrow’s World Duty Free scotch kiosk, who pointed us in the right direction.
I know ‘simple’ may not seem a proper adjective for a meal of 6 courses, but there wasn’t actually that much food, even adding them all up, and the descriptions should be able to defend their spareness themselves.
- Spanish (Valencia) ‘Marcona’ almonds, ‘fritas‘, the gift of a friend
- eight ounces of spinach tagliolini from Eataly, cooked al dente, tossed in a warm bowl with softened, unsalted rich ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘, seasoned with Maldon salt and freshly-ground tellicherry pepper
- the wine up to this point was an Italian (Sardinia) white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2014
- two seafood sausages, the gift of a friend who is a master in his wonderful kitchen, pan grilled for a few minutes, accompanied by a brown butter caper sauce made by melting a third of a stick of Kerrygold butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the milk solids had turned brown, removed from the heat, the juice of about a third of one sweet (unidentified name) lemon from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island whisked in, along with 4 or 5 teaspoons of salted capers (rinsed, drained, and dried), seasoned to taste with salt and butter, sprinkled at the last minute with 2 teaspoons of whole baby chive plants from Rogowski Farm, served with slices of a fairly robust bread, Balthazar’s ‘Potato Fendu’, from Whole Foods
- Shushan sheep milk cheese from 2-Corner Field Farm, served with thin toasts of the same Balthazar potato bread
- the wine with the seafood and cheese courses was a champagne, Ployez-Jacquemart Extra Quality Brut from Flatiron Wines & Spirits
- the sweet was a fantastic gingerbread pastry from Dominique Ansel Bakery, the gift of a friend
- mixed unshelled nuts from Whole Foods, cracked at the table
- the drink with the nuts was Talisker Dark Storm, from Heathrow duty free
- the music playlist for the entire evening is pretty extensive, beginning with Pier Francesco Cavalli’s ‘Calisto‘, extending through Caroline Shaw’s ‘Partita for 8 Voices’, and ending with John Luther Adams’ ‘Become Ocean’