Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dinner Time!

Well, it is always amazing to me how so much prep goes into this dinner, and then just like that, it's over.  
Before I get into all the details though, I have to tell you that right as the dinner was starting, I find out that our friend who is allergic to shellfish has actually eaten at the French Laundry.  I should've know.  This guy knows everyone and has eaten everywhere.  He's probably bff with Thomas Keller, too but I already felt additional pressure since he had something to compare it with, and I couldn't take any more. 

Here is our menu:

Here are all of the dishes that we used for the 5 of us to eat.  This was before they were dirty and stacked all over the kitchen.

And this is what the kids ate.  Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese from the box.  Isn't that awful?  I guess the only redeeming thing about it, is that it's their absolute favorite things to eat, and they were looking forward to it all week.

 Ok, so here is the finished product of Tuna Tartare with Seaweed Salad in the Cornets that burned my fingers off.  They were so good. 

For some reason, I forgot to take a picture of the gruyere cheese gougeres (little cheesy creampuff like biscuits) AND the first course - Gazpacho.  I also forgot to ever mention making the gazpacho.  Probably because there is nothing exciting about it - but it was the best gazpacho I've ever eaten.  I'm having leftovers for lunch today.

Ok, so then we get to the second course.  This is the Salad of Globe Artichokes with Eggplant Caviar and a whole bunch of other veggies blanched and stacked on top with an herb salad.  The stuff around the edge is reduced balsamic vinagrette.  I was so pleasantly surprised by this dish.  It sounded so basic, and I don't love eggplant, but the eggplant ended up being my favorite part, and it was all so tasty, that I took a biscuit and cleaned the plate with it.

For the Third and "Main" course, we had the Maine Lobster Pancakes with Ginger-Carrot Emulsion and Watercress.  It was supposed to be Pea Shoots (Peas & Carrots) but we couldn't find those anywhere.  I was nervous about this dish.  I don't make crepes very well for some reason.  I mean, they always taste fine, but they are never, ever pretty.  I realized after this experience it's because I use too high of a heat.  I was able to make these crepes perfectly, and the lobster filling with the mascarpone cheese and reduced lobster glaze was so rich and decadent. And the carrot emulsion, which you wouldn't think would be that big of a deal was wonderful.  I probably could have eaten it plain.  The picture just really doesn't do it justice. 

So then for the cheese course, which is normally my least favorite course.  As much as I love cheese, I don't love it by itself.  I like for it to be an accent instead of the main flavor, and normally in cheese courses, the cheese is overpowering to me.  But this one was so good.  The cheese was pecorino toscano, more balsamic glaze around the edge, with an arugula & olive oil mix on the bottom, roasted red & yellow bell peppers (tossed in balsamic vinegar & olive oil), and a toasted baguette.  I wished afterward that I had bought more cheese.

And then finally, dessert. I was so nervous about this one, and it definitely was not as "pretty" as pictured in the book.  The paper towel thing was a little nerve wracking, and my mint oil, while tasty, was not as thick as what was pictured.  So you can tell it's not as quite as refined as it is supposed to be but it sure tasted good.  The bottom is a creme anglais custard, with a meringue hollowed out and filled with chocolate mousse.  Then a cookie and chocolate shavings on top, drizzled with mint oil.  

So it went great, all the kids cooperated nicely, Bennett waited until this morning to get sick, and a good time was had by all. 

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