It’s always easier the second time around. At least that seems to be true in the MM household. The first dinner always has heightened stress levels, and there are inevitable glitches, but the second dinner that is usually held the next night seems so much smoother… For 2013, we had our second dinner two days later, and the flowers will look familiar as we were able to freshen up most of the arrangements, though we added a pail full of new flowers to make sure everything looked good. The tablecloth is the same shade of linen, but a fresh piece and ironed in place.
Plain white Limoges china make the table look different from the first dinner, and the addition of red tapered candles set in crystal candleholders ups the festive holiday feel.
Candles lit at different levels (including votive holders) casts a nice warm glow on the dinner table and guests. I keep wondering why we don’t use candles more often during the rest of the year… we should.
The Teen’s comments that things looked too spring-like were taken under advisement… the next holiday dinner after this one had a decidedly holiday “red and green” look.
All set and ready for guests…
…yes, we do actually have guests. I know I rarely post photos of people, but I guess I break that rule here… This was our “international dinner” with friends from way back… a Korean roommate from college and his wife, French Canadian, Polish Canadian, Tanzanian Canadian, German Canadian and Balinese friends and family. We had folks who are Christian, Catholic, Hindu and Muslim to celebrate the holidays and friendship.
Not quite a Downton Abbey-esque dinner (the gaps between people were too narrow to serve properly) but we had two modern-day “footmen”, our trusty waiter (now Manager that oversees waitstaff and training at Zubuchon) who has served holiday meals in our home for nearly 15 years and an able assistant. We only have waitstaff for a few holiday gatherings a year, and they really make the meals feel extra-special.
The first course was a buckwheat blini (mini-pancake) with beet-cured salmon and red fish roe served with creme fraiche with dill. The plate was garnised with chervil, which I was surprised to find at S&R.
The second appetizer was a bit of burrata cheese (very creamy mozzarella) with the most amazing tomatoes from Gejo/Nacho and garnished with Gejo’s purple and sweet green basil leaves. A light drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and some cracked black pepper as well.
And it’s here that I got caught up in the food, and DID NOT remember to take photos of the main course, so you will just have to imagine… We had a Roast Turkey with Damson Plum Sauce (Damson Plum jam from Sister), a couple of 2-2.5 inch thick Bistecca a la Fiorentina, creamy mashed potatoes, mushroom dressing with black truffle oil, Buttered and herbed vegetables. A cheese course followed and for dessert we had strawberries, blueberries and Cebu mangoes with heavy cream as well as a wonderful carrot cake brought by some of our guests.
A glimpse of the menu taped to a kitchen cabinet for the first holiday dinner… see all the crazed notes on what plate to use with what dish? Pandemonium reigns in the kitchen during the first meal of the season…
The second dinner was MUCH calmer in the kitchen and service was a lot smoother… Also, for those of you planning to do this, notice some real “shortcuts” employed. Many of the appetizers are homemade BUT served at two meals (since guests are different) so you save on prep work and time. We bought a whole 7-rib roast beef, but had the two largest ribs cut into beautiful Bistecca cuts, so both sets of guests had the most special of roasts/meats, while a second choice of ham, turkey, etc. was offered to make sure each meal met varying dietary restrictions and preferences. I stocked up on vegetables and garnishes and used them on both evenings. Also, when pressed for time as I was, I jettisoned all the plans for fancy desserts like souffles, creme brulees, tarts, etc. that I have done for previous years… and relied on simple fruit desserts and things guests were happy to bring with them. After a large meal many guests have so little dessert for the most part…