Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Years Eve

New Years Eve is one of the biggest nights of the year for a dinner restaurant. I'’d say the biggest, but Valentines day rivals New Years Eve in popularity (but with an entirely different crowd.) The reservation book fills far in advance with patrons eager to celebrate the evening with the special menu planned by the chef. For an end of the year blow out the menu blatantly features items of luxury, in abundance.

Amy created a 5 course menu that humbly displayed decadence without the commonly used ingredients of luxury like foie gras, truffles, and caviar. Items like a smoked trout mousse and salt cod fritter started the menu along side a rillete made from duck. A very nice house made rabbit terrine followed as an "“in between"” course with a grain mustard aioli. The main courses included a wild boar chop and an amazing braised veal cheek. A cheese course was Amy'’s last contribution to the menu in a chevre tart with chestnut honey and fresh thyme. At this point in the menu I took over and provided 2 choices for dessert.

Of course, the first option was chocolate, and because I am fixated on my new discovery of ginger and chocolate together, I featured it NYE. I made a dark chocolate torte and layered it with a dense ganache that was studded with candied ginger. A fitting partner for the evening, the cake sat next to a slice of orange confit. Crowning the cake was a quenelle of whipped creme fraiche for a nice acidic balance to the rich of the chocolate, the bite of the ginger, and the sweet of the orange. Dotting the plate is a reduction of the orange confit syrup that has been infused mildly with clove.

The second option was a frozen winter spice parfait with dried cherry compote and linzer cookies. The frozen parfait was flavored with allspice, cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, and a pinch of black pepper. (As our server Kate put it, "“it tastes like everything I love in pumpkin pie, and but without the things I don'’t like about pumpkin pie. Which would be the pumpkin, I guess.”") The compote on the parfait was made from dried sour cherries. The cherries were simmered in balsamic vinegar, a splash of ammeretto, sugar, and water until plump again. After the cherries steeped for a spell, the juices were thickened with starch for a velvety “"goo" for lack of a better word. On the plate above the parfait was a preserved bing cherry puree underlaid with orange zest, cinnamon, and clove.

The cookies are what would be the crust for a Linzer Tart. They are made with almond, cinnamon, and brandy with a irrestable delicate mouth feel. The melt in your mouth texture comes from incorporating hard boiled egg yolks instead of raw yolks into the dough. This is an old Austrian trick that I first saw in a British restaurant and use a recipe from a French pastry chef. (Nicky.. I have a special post about these cookies and their method coming just for you!)


Anonymous RC said...

Your food looks beautiful! You are a wonderful chef! And a great blogger!

January 06, 2006 6:24 AM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

Hi, sounds like you had a great N.Y. dinner. Dark chocolate and ginger is so awesome. An addition of star anise works well with that combo as well. I was off so have been working on new dishes and ideas in which got it's first "taste" at our chef's table this evening. I will post some pix's so you can check out. Still trying to get my blog figured out so people can check it out. Can't seem to access without typing as well. Anyway, chat later. In good food and cooking....cuisiner

January 06, 2006 11:19 PM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

hi, another do you get a photo into your heading(pastry depart.)? Do you have to create a whole new photo with a superimposed wording? curious

January 06, 2006 11:22 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Cuisineir- yes, the oranges were candied with star anise. It did work well. Email me, it's under the profile section, and I'll tell you how to make a banner.

January 06, 2006 11:54 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

RC.... you forgot to add wonderful girlfriend and great nacho maker to your list!!

January 07, 2006 12:30 AM  

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