From Xmas to Halloween

Monday, February 1st, 2010

As has become tradition, we have cordoned off Christmas Eve for ourselves for the purposes of cooking and enjoying a multi-course, no-meat-is-too-expensive, dinner for two by the fire. It has long been the case that the food is what I anticipate the most during the Xmas season.  Now that we have cultivated this new tradition of decadence, it has become the ultimate focus of my anticipation– there will be no better meal during the year than the one on December 24th.



This year, though the rules of decadence applied, we were a little less astringent in the following of the recipes‘ rules, which resulted in some near misses and, admittedly, one bonafide disaster.

Le Menu

Clementine Negroni

Whole-wheat Blini with Caviar and Crème Fraîche

Sparkling white

Cauliflower Soup with Pecorino Romano and Black Truffle Oil

Spice-rubbed Roasted Squab

Homemade Potato Gnocchi in Browned-butter Sauce

Sautéed Kale

2006 Bouchaine Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley

Taleggio Raw-milk Cheese

Apple-Pomegranate Tarte Tatin with Honeyed Mascarpone



Generally speaking, it would be pretty hard not to pry a delightful evening from a menu such as this. Critically speaking, there were quite a few small mistakes we made along the way, or things that just didn’t taste “quite right” that I would do differently next time.  The whole wheat in the blini overpowered the taste of caviar (which was on the cheaper side, to be sure, but we still paid good American money for that American caviar and we should have been able to taste it!); the cauliflower soup was a little bland – the cauliflower should have been roasted before being made into soup; the roasted squab (a.k.a. pigeon) was too roasted, alas, and became a little dried out; the kale, it turns out, is not something that one can sauté with garlic, like swiss chard, to produce a lovely aromatic green on the plate.

The apple-pomegranate tarte tatin was a catastrophe.  We’ve made the classic tarte tatin a dozen times with great success (and fabulous leftovers) but the addition of pomegranate poisoned the formula.   What started as this:


…ended up as this:


Black.  Undeniably, solidly, even-viewed-in-direct-sunlight, midnight black. It seems that pomegranate adds zero to the flavour of such a tart and effectively turns the sugars and apples into pure evil if left to simmer together for a long period of time.  On the plus side, it was still entirely edible, and now we have a secret formula for making a wicked Hallowe’en dessert.