Christmas Past

Egad.   How is it possible that I have forgotten to document the culinary masterpiece that was Christmas 2008?   Compared to Xmas ’09, it could be described as ethereal, so how on earth could I have not written about it here on this fair-weather blog?  Flipping back through the pages of my menu book, I found the record for Christmas Eve 2008 (indeed, I record the things we have eaten so that when the world ends and future generations are sifting through the tattered remains of society, they can read about what the mortals once ate and wonder, “what is agnolotti”?)


Le Menu de Noël, 2008

Cornets of Salmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Crème Fraîche


Chestnut Agnolotti with Fontina and Celery Root-White Truffle Purée

Dry-aged St. Helena Standing Prime Rib Roast


Roasted Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Jerusalem Artichokes

Cheeses with Quince Paste and Walnuts

A Veil of Vanilla

Marvelous, this meal.  I recall that we dragged my small desk to the living room window to act as an intimate dining table with a view of the city.  I remember the trouble we went through trying to make those damn cornets without the proper (and expensive) cornet-making tools;  and I remember being pretty pleased with myself at having made and rolled out the pasta for the agnolotti by hand, without the aid of a pasta maker, thank you very much!    But what is most dominant in my memory of this once-per-year feast is the dessert.


From Elizabeth Faulker’s book, A Veil of Vanilla is the name she applied to this multi-layered, somewhat deconstructed version of individual trifle-esque desserts.  In two glasses, we layered dark, sweet tarte tatin apples and Point Reyes blue cheese crumble with pecan caramel sauce, Napa Wildflower Honey semifreddo, and small cubes of pomegranate gelée.  Sprinkled on top were little glowing gems of fresh pomegranate seeds.  Crazy good.    Like the kind of good that warrants exclamations of pleasure between bites. With each recipe of hers that I try, I am tempted to label each one as The Best Dessert I Have Ever Had.  Maybe I should avoid the absolute declarations of “best” or “worst” and just stick with the Continuum of Like, where “best” is something that can never physically be obtained/observed, like absolute zero.  Relative that that spectrum, this dessert can certainly be classed amongst the Super-Like.

This book is like a secret weapon of desserts.  It should be printed and distributed as a little red book.  It should be included in a “How to Find a Soul-Mate” kit.  It should be sold with a napkin as a bookmark so as to manage the drooling over the photos of confectionary.

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