Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thankgsiving 2008 Part II: Spa time, hot pot, and asparagus to make you cry (in a good way)

The ridiculous, slightly delirious feasting continued on Friday evening after driving to Portland: Nine of us enjoyed a dinner at my restaurant. My chef created an incredible seven-course tasting menu and the sommelier paired a bottle of wine per course. This worked out great for our group, as each person ended up enjoying the equivalent of 2-3 glasses of wine. Before the tasting menu even began, we started out with a couple of house-made charcuterie plates and several orders of pork ribs. Good way to reel 'em all in, I think.

On the menu that night (I hope I got this right!):

-Hamachi sashimi: Preserved orange yuzu kosho vinaigrette, cilantro, Thai basil oil and American caviar
-Cauliflower soup: Lamb sausage, curried almonds, golden raisins and curry oil
-Asparagus wrapped in house-cured lamb prosciutto: Bruleed Parmesan-truffle glacage, sunny-side-up egg and shaved black truffles
-Foie gras torchon: Spiced apple chutney, brioche toast, microgreen salad with candied walnuts, balsamic reduction and honey reduction
-Pan-seared scallop: Fennel puree, Dungeness crab, sauteed leeks and truffle vinaigrette
-Maple-glazed bacon-wrapped pork belly: sherry creamed lentils, lardons and hedgehog mushrooms
-Dessert course: Flourless chocolate cake, olive oil beignets, apple bread pudding, espresso cheesecake, and cheese plate (Mt. Tam triple creme, Cirrus camembert, Bermuda Triangle goat cheese, Pecorino, Shaft blue vein)

I mean, come on. Seriously. Like, what the crap.

This meal killed, obviously, and I'm still kicking myself for forgetting my camera. Winning the prize for favorite course would probably be a tie between the asparagus course and the foie torchon. During the asparagus course, the entire table went silent in sheer enjoyment, and my brother literally started whimpering in happiness. Everything tasted incredible and looked beautiful, and sitting through this fantastic meal at the restaurant for which I work made me feel both lucky and humbled; lucky because I'm working at a truly special place, and humbled because the menu my chef created was ultimately the result of many years of experience, skill and a highly developed palate. I'm so young in the field and I have so much to learn, and this meal really inspired me and got the wheels turning.

(Side note to all the restaurant industry folk who might be reading this: If you haven't yet had a proper meal at your restaurant, I would highly recommend it. It's quite refreshing and can really round out your perspective of your workplace.)

My chef surprised me with a day off on Saturday, for which I was (and still am) so grateful. This Christmas will be the first one ever that I won't be around my family, since we're heading into busy season for the restaurant, and any time I get to spend with my family is truly precious for me. I think my muscles actually managed to relax, thanks to some spa time at Loyly and a good nap in the afternoon.

For the rest of the weekend, we aimed to keep the style of cuisine relatively light after such rich, stick-a-fork-in-me-I'm-done meals. I mean, a body can only handle so much torchon before resulting in a desire to nap forever. We rounded out the weekend with some munchies from the food carts on 10th and Alder downtown, dinner at Beijing Hot Pot, and a Sunday lunch at Pambiche (which was thankfully much better than my last disappointing visit).

The last of my family and friends departed on Sunday evening, and I admit to nearly shedding a tear or two. This might qualify as the best Thanksgiving ever, and gave me perspective on all the amazing opportunities in my life for which I have to be thankful. I know I'm waxing a bit poetic, but I think I'm allowed to every now and then.

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