Wednesday, December 23, 2009
After waking up from his nap, G showered and started getting ready for the hike to dinner. Oh yeah, he thought we were going to have dinner at the manor house on the Garth Newel property (where we had our rehearsal dinner and send-off breakfast). Since our car was on the other side of the mountain, we "planned" to walk the three miles (in the snow).
He got out the computer and studied the little dark and snowy hike. My little Boy Scout also bundled up in long johns and his hiking boots, making sure that Barbara (who ostensibly would walk with us to dinner) had a backpack for his precious (many) bottles of wine. I laughed to myself when he asked me if I was wearing my long johns (as I put on my thinnest sweater).
The surprise was that Barbara would cater dinner in her lovely house, which is right next door to the gallery. Another surprise was that Ryan and Mary Hodges (whom we met separate from Barbara, but who are good friends and former neighbors of hers) would be there as well. And bonus...Ryan was going to cook the racks of lamb in the fireplace!!!
Hahaha! Bundled up for the 10 yard "hike" to dinner! (Boy Scout also had his big flash light. Wine and the flashlight. That's what you call "prepared," kids.)
What a treat to enjoy the fireplace, Champagne, and conversation in Barbara's sitting room.
I'm glad that we did this instead of the manor house. It's funny how things work out--Randy Wyche, the chef at Garth Newel, was out of town; so I had asked Barbara if she knew anyone who could cater...and she said she could. The menu she offered was FABULOUS in an elegant homespun sort of way...and by homespun I mean if your home is a hunt country manse.
Delicious seared, rare tuna with sesame coating atop cucumbers, crisps, with a bit of ginger and wasabi; the Parmesan pecan sandies were to-die-for!
As we ate (every.single.bit of) the hors d'oevres, Barbara was busy in the kitchen prepping the rest of the meal...as Ryan came in to harass her!
Ryan and Mary brought over their hearth/fireplace cooking equipment, which included this Hibachi grill thing and seasoned oak.
The beautiful rack of lamb prepped by Barbara; Ryan stoking the fire (he and Mary had arrived about an hour earlier to make sure it was juuuust right). Apparently, he's an expert at open-fire cooking. (Makes me wish we had a wood-burning fireplace.)
The lamb charring nicely.
"Which piece is mine?"
We then headed up to the studio space. The table was set and we were surrounded by artwork and warmed by another fireplace!
First up...the green salad with a nice salty blue cheese, pears, and a fig (was it?) dressing.
We had it with the rest of the Champagne. We talked a bit about our wedding adventures, then Ryan and Mary demonstrated the key to a long marriage: linking arms when drinking. Also, it was a mini celebration of their belated birthdays, as well.
"Time to serve the meat!" Ryan yells. And he and Barbara rush down to slice it up and plate it. We had this delicious asparagus and tarragon with the most amazing au gratin potatoes with sweet carmelized onions. Perfection. The lamb was PERFECTLY medium rare, with a little bit of char. Just absolutely delicious. Barbara (with the help of Ryan) is such a great cook. Mary is no slack in the kitchen either. She used to run a little catering business in the county, but now raises goats (hopefully for some wonderful goat cheese) and trout. She and Ryan live on a beautiful bit of property that sits right along the river, and they're restoring the old main house, as they live in the guest cottage. How's that for a beautiful life?
Anyhoo, back to dinner. We had this Robert Mondavi 1990 Cab. Greg brought all this wine, even though Barbara had purchased some for the occasion. Oh well.
We had this really yummy dessert wine called Eloquence, made of late harvest Chardonnay grapes. Surprisingly light, it's not the syrupy, cloying sweetness that you get with other dessert wines such as muscat.
And then came dessert!!!!
G is such a germ-phobe! He refused to blow out the candles (aka spit on the cake). So he pinched the flames to extinguish the candles...but there were, of course, trick candles!!!!
Oh-my-goodness, the cake was SO good. Ganache coated, chocolate torte layered on top of a flakey, crunchy chocolate wafer layer, on top of a thin base of chocolate sponge cake. Sinful!
Speaking of which, G and Ryan decided that they needed to feel up this lusty piece of pottery, which apparently, aside from its bulbous, organic shape, had some interesting tactile elements on the inside. Hmmm.
Maggie was NOT amused.
Here's the superfantastic fun bunch!!! HAPPY (COUNTRY) BIRTHDAY, G!!!
P.S. "You can't buy this at the Homestead, kids." This is what you get the "man who has everything" for his birthday: rare, intimate, and delicious.