Friday, January 1, 2010

Sweet End to 09

Happy New Year to you! Another year, and another decade. As I sit here thinking about whether I'll say 'two thousand ten' or 'twenty ten,' I can't help noting that at the last turn of a decade, I was in high school. Yikes!

New Years' Eve dinner, Thursday, December 31, 2009. We spent the evening much like last year, with dinner at Viognier in San Mateo.

Don't you enjoy getting dressed up for an evening just as much as the evening itself?
Pretty and comfy in the red coat Ray gave me for Christmas ~

Thanks weather, for not raining on us last night as we walked from the car and into Draeger's, the fancy market which houses Viognier on its second floor.

We started the evening with a champagne aperitif at the bar and a little reminiscing on the events of this year.

At dinnertime we were seated in a nice booth in the back. It was a different side of the dining room than we've been in before; it's fun to see an alternate point of view when you visit a place multiple times.

I think purple is going to be my color in 2010. I received two hats with purple accents and a purple pashmina for Christmas. The lighting in the restaurant amped the purplish glow.

Five courses were specially prepared for New Years Eve. We had options for each course, and as always we gravitate to different dishes. All the better for tasting really, we got to try everything except for the third entree and dessert options.
To start, Ray selected the celery root soup with creme fraiche and pomegranates.
We love the presentation of soups poured table side over a garnish. It's a simple thing but makes it so much more special.

The puree was steamy as it filled the dish. The soup was creamy with a delicate celery flavor.

My first course was this beautiful lobster salad. Without a doubt, it was the prettiest dish of the evening. Two beautiful pieces of lobster were flanked by four sections of a tiny quail egg and teeny slices of potato.
The salsa verde bed had a wonderful basil garlicky flavor.
I do love lobster, it's a glorious treat on special occasions.

Our second course options really suited our personal tastes.
For Ray, chilled Sonoma foi gras. The pretty orange is a pumpkin jam.

With toasted brioche, on which to spread the foi gras.
For me, a salad of carpaccio-thin red and yellow beets with cara cara oranges, goat cheese, frisee, and candied pecans. This was very nice, though I prefer chunks of beets to the carpaccio. The salad was light and fresh. It's good to have a dish like this during a course dinner. At the end of the night I was just full rather than uncomfortably stuffed.
My 3rd course is surprising and counter-intuitive (to me), but in keeping with my refocus of food goals. I did not pick the vegetarian option, no no.
Por moi, the ravioli with slow-braised short ribs and Swiss chard. Yes indeed.
I expected a plate of 3 or 4 raviolis, but instead received one giant!

I detected a bit of soy sauce in the jus. The amount of meat was way too much for me, so I only had a few bites. Ray was kind enough to swap plates with me, and he did most of the damage to this dish as well as his own.
Ray's third course was the wild mushroom risotto. It was nice, but not very memorable. We agreed this was the least interesting course on both accounts.

We forgot the third course quickly, so happy were we with our entrees.
Ray loved the breast of pheasant with brussel sprout leaves and a sweet potato puree.

On my side of the table, the slow-cooked Pacific salmon.

Oh friends, my salmon was so lovely. A well cooked piece of salmon ranks highly on my favorites list, and this one delivered. I'm not sure of the details on 'slow-cooked,' but it gave me a tender and buttery piece of fish.

Those dark crouton cubes were sweet, and the parsnip puree, zucchini ribbons, frisee, and candied kumquats were exciting on the composed plate. I ate every bite, but one candied kumquat. I could have managed it, but you shouldn't force a good thing. It's less special if you do.
Ray loves cheese plates, so this selection was his dessert fifth course. He was so full from his meal, plus four or five pieces of buttered bread, that he tasted everything and finished nothing.

For me, a tasting of Valhrona chocolate: milk, white, and dark. The milk and white were mousse-like, and the little dark chocolate cake was moist and bittersweet.

It was nice, not my most favorite. I am picky about my restaurant desserts- they disappoint more than they win- but I'm aware that my standards are darn high. The chocolate dome dessert at the Marketo Christmas party was way more exciting, so I know Viognier is capable of making extraordinary confections.
This one didn't quite satisfy my sweet craving; I did dip into our cookie stash when we got home.
Once again we brought a bottle with us, from Domenico Wines, a local favorite of ours. We had a bottle of their Aglianico which was last year's pick, but decided to bring something different, this Nebbiolo. It's a very light red wine, a good choice for the variety of dishes we ate.
Macaroons finished the meal, one dark chocolate and one citrus-flavored. These were a serendipitous surprise because we were talking about macaroons earlier in the day!
We're planning a trip to Paris and London in April, and Ray identifies the macaroon as very French. We'll have to compare the macaroons we consume on the trip with these.

Macaroons were trendy in the Bay Area in 2009, making this a fitting foodie ending to the last meal of the year.

We've had some delicious meals this past year. Most grand? L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in July. Best at home? The grilled pizzas throughout the summer. Ooo those are so good. Best Saturday night date? Over and over, Barracuda Sushi. Best desserts? That one is really hard to narrow down. Yumi Yogurt froyo is always awesome. For special treats, Mom's apple pie cake, and the Christmas trifle is really up there. In a restaurant, those tarts at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, and the chocolate dome at Viognier before Christmas.


This being the first day of January and the new year, it's fitting that I have another first to mention. This post is the first written exclusively on my new Netbook. This 10-inch baby computer was one of Ray's Christmas gifts to me. It's fast, light as a feather and so portable, has 10 hours of battery, and 170 GB of storage. It also has a camera mounted on top! Here she is next to my old laptop computer.

Isn't she sweet?

Have a beautiful first day of 2010!


1 comment:

Unknown said...

what an amazing dinner!! nice to "meet" ray, too :) happy new year!