Last year, I made a birthday dinner for a couple. The menu was particularly fun because the guy was planning a birthday surprise for his girlfriend across from Staples Center in the new high-rise condos. It was a nice pre-Christmas dinner where the kitchen was workable with a large counterspace. He said to me, “buy whatever you want.”
“She loves seafood, but I’m allergic to all shellfish. But, make it special for her.” Cool dude! Traditionally, I like to pair each course with a wine, but for 2, it might be overkill. They weren’t huge drinkers, so we did 2 champagnes and one heavier Pinot Noir with the duck/chicken hearts. I planned to make him a separate non-shellfish course with every course that was sent to her. I shopped everywhere. The seafood markets downtown. The Wednesday (awesome) farmer’s market in Santa Monica, CA. I bought all sorts of shit. Shit I didn’t know if I would use, or things I would force myself to use, just because they looked nice.
The persimmons ended up being so tangy that I 1) had to freeze them and 2) not serve them at the dinner because it would just ruin the palate. A lot of last minute changes – for instance, added an extra tagliolini & lentil salad. The smoked salmon was a last minute addition, too. Though I had an unlimited budget, and making one dish (bacon /tuna) for instance would require me to buy more than enough bacon for two, I chose to re-use some ingredients whereas a traditional restaurant with tasting menu may only serve one ingredient once throughout the dinner. Here, it was Bacon & Creme Fraiche. Let’s get real, bacon
could should be its own course.
- Shigoku Oysters – I love starting with Oysters because it’s a small bite that always gets me hungry. It’s great for celebrations
- Scallop Ceviche w/ Crème Fraiche, marinated Naval Orange segments, Watermelon Radish – This was a diver scallop from the east coast. I found some Watermelon radishes that were beautiful but more bitter than I expected. I sliced them thinner.
- Heirloom Carrots, Chanterelle Mushrooms, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano – This was something for the non-seafood eater to eat that was made on the spot
- Smoked Salmon w/ Crème Fraiche, Chives, Shaved Celery Root – really nice Smoked Salmon. simplicity
- Razor clams(mmmmmmmmm), heirloom tomatoes, lemon, Fried Applewood-Smoke Bacon bits – I think the bacon overpowered the clams. they’re very delicate and delicious. Bacon and seafood is awesome tho 🙂
- Lentil Salad w/ Shallots, Shredded Moulard Duck, Fried egg – “peasant” food with awesome duck confit!
- Yellowfin Tuna Loin wrapped in Applewood-Smoked Bacon w/ Swiss Chard, Heirloom Carrots, Balsamic Vinegar, Simple Syrup, Bacon-Fat reduction – on the topic of I LOVE BACON. The bacon was thicker, so I took a meat pounder and pounded it thin, wrapped up the tuna and rendered some bacon fat.
- Homemade Tagliolini w/ Ragu of Jidori Chicken Hearts, Jidori Chicken Leg, Chanterelle mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano – it was extremely funny to see them enjoy this. And then think for a few minutes as I told them what they were eating 😉 You’re eating the legs and the breasts of the animal why not the heart?
- Duck two ways: Homemade Spaetzle, duck breast; braised lentils w/ shallots & bacon bits, leg of Moulard Duck Confit – homemade pasta is always a winner. duck confit? yipeekaiyay. Here are a few pictures with the original menu and the kitchen setup…