The blow out Great Oak Wine Club Anniversary dinner is all done. People were as pleased as I'd hoped. Everything turned out great. There were a few things I'd tweak here and there, but it was great. All the wine pairings were good, some especially so. Everybody pitched in - some people before for prep, and some people during for plating and cleaning, and people after for cleaning. Many hands make light work and it didn't take a long to clean up after we were done - we were able to take advantage of gaps between courses to run things through the dishwasher. The menu was such that almost everything could be cooked in advance, with only a little bit of a la minute required - but that meant we were able to keep 5 or 6 people busy for going on 3 hours getting ready before dinner. Plus the time Katie and I spent last night and this morning. We had 16 people attending.
The final menu, with wines, and some pictures:Rosemary Parmesan CoinsNV Collabrigo Prosecco Spumante Brut
Really great hors d'ouevres. Easy and very tasty. Sort of like a savory cookie. We had these and the sparkling wine out for people to have as they were arriving and before they sat down.( Read more... )Mixed Greens with Zingerman’s Creamery Goat Cheese, Roasted Red and Gold Beets, and Toasted Walnuts2004 Jardin Sauvignon Blanc, Stellensboch, South Africa
The goat cheese was more aged than I remembered. Elph, who works at Zingerman's did the actual buying, so I wasn't there to assess. I might have used something else. But it was a very good salad. The planned sherry vinaigrette fell victim to my not actually having the bottle of sherry vinager that I was sure I had, so we used a balsalmic vinaigrette instead, which was fine. ( Read more... )Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Creamy Vodka Sauce2004 Domaine Cordier Père& Fils “Terroir de Charnay” Macon
The only "eh" course, I thought. Needed more salt, but someone else was in charge of this course and I didn't taste it until I'd sat down. It probably would have been better when it was warm. And it suffered some, I think from all the things we needed to do to deal with the vegetarians and gluten free eaters. Boring plate - I had planned on making a chive oil to drizzle on the plate to jazz things up a bit, but didn't have time.( Read more... )Blood Orange - Rosemary Sorbet
Presentation leaves a bit to be desired (I was busy with the next course, and the person doing the plating wasn't very concerned about looks), but it was very good. The blood oranges were totally anemic though. The duck course that followed was the course that required the most last minute preparation, so I added the sorbet to fill in the long gap.( Read more... )Seared Duck Breast with Dried Cherry Sauce, Lentils and Swiss Chard
orLentils, Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushrooms with Dried Cherry Sauce2004 Domain Robert Chevillon Bourgogne Passetoutgrain
I'd written down a great to-do list, but the one thing I'd forgotten to write down was "score skin on duck breasts" so I forgot. Luckily, I'd put them into cold pans, so I realized it right away and was able to pull them out. Then none of the knives I had handy were sharp enough to cut the skin... ugh. This was definitely the most hectic course. Sear the duck, rest the duck, carve the duck, saute the chard, heat up the sauce, get everything plated. The vegetarian offering was totally different too, so that was a whole other set of things to do at the same time (although I delegated that to someone else). I only have a picture of the veggie option, since my camera was being obstinate. Jillian was also taking pictures, so I hope to get one from her of the duck.( Read more... )Five Spice Braised Short Ribs (or Portabellas), Parsnip-Turnip Puree, Snow Peas2000 J.L. Chave “Offerus” Saint-Joseph
I braised the short ribs this morning, and strained and reduced the braising liquid into an intense sauce this afternoon. The portion size was waaay to big on this one - I was expecting the short ribs to cook down more, and these ones didn't. Everything got eaten, but people were definitely feeling full, so I sent them all out for a walk while we prepped the cheese course.( Read more... )Tasting of blue cheesesNV Alvear Carlos VII Amontillado
The cheeses were Cashel Blue from Ireland, Stilton from England, Roquefort from France, and Gorgonzola from Italy. We served a variety of sides along with - some pears, some port glazed walnuts, a hearty nut and seed bread, and a little dollop of port reduction. The port glazed walnuts are amazing! And they played especially well with the excellent wine.( Read more... )Lemon Sabayon Tart with Pine Nut Crust and Honeyed Mascarpone Cream2002 Peller Estates Riesling Icewine
A yummy and easy recipe from the French Laundry Cookbook. And a *great* wine pairing.( Read more... )Gianduja Gelato Filled Profiteroles with Chocolate SauceWarres Otima 10 year Tawny Porto
Wow, this was the ever evolving course. We'd originally planned dark chocolate filled profiteroles, caramel sauce and Banyuls as the wine. But I couldn't get any Banyuls. So at the last minute I changed the gelato to Gianduja, as I thought I'd serve a Vin Santo instead. But then I couldn't get that! So we ended up with a tawny port. The caramel sauce didn't turn out - I think the recipe was messed up. So Katie brought over a jar of Sanders bittersweet chocolate sauce and we used that instead. And in the end, I think it turned out for the best - it was a really nice match for the wine.( Read more... )
Lessons learned - I was overambitious and took too much on myself instead of delegating. I basically planned and executed the whole meal. I had plenty of people assisting, but I was definitely in charge. Yeah, I'm a control freak, why do you ask? In the moment that was fine, but there were definitely a couple times this week where I was dreading the dinner or in "can't wait until it's over" mode instead of looking forward to it.
Too much food. Primarily the short rib course - one bone each would have been plenty, instead of the two we had. Which would have saved a bunch of money, actually.
Speaking of money... When we were planning the dinner, I told people it would be $20. But as things evolved, the price kept rising, and it ended up at about$25/person. Not a huge deal, but it stressed me out because I know that some of our people are really price-sensitive. The price wasn't at all unreasonable - wouldn't you pay $25 for that meal? And in any case, no one had any issues with the increased cost (at least none that they mentioned.)
I know there are people who want recipes, etc, but those will have to wait for another day. Liam will be up in 7 hours, and I'm on morning duty.