More entertaining at home. Just last night we had an absolutely wonderful dinner at the foodmaven.com's Park Slope apartment to usher in the New Year. Instead of sitting at his elaborate dining room table, Arthur created a stage set in his living room, dressing the coffee table in gold leaf finery with massive candles and beautiful wine glasses laid upon tapestry. Although we had agreed upon a simple supper for "a party of five" -- the menu morphed into an extravaganza that began in 2010 and ended sumptuously in 2011! The evening commenced with "aperitivi"-- a great white wine from Italy (Fiano di Avellino) for me and martinis for the men. Fleshy black olives, peppadews (tiny sweet and spicy peppers) filled with tuna, salumi, black pepper taralli, the best potato chips, and tiny white anchovies in vinegar. For Arthur, the menu bridged old and new. The first course was an old friend -- a beloved pasta with lentils (good luck for the New Year) that tasted meaty and primal. He said it was the great tomato paste he used! I also remarked how good the actual malfatti (mixed-shaped) pasta was and Arthur declared it an excellent brand from Italy. Will find out the name. Next came a few dishes new to Arthur -- he loves to experiment and was intrigued with a recipe that he adapted from Jamie Oliver. In the style of cooking I love best, it was radically simple and very, very delicious: A bone-in, tied lamb shoulder, braised ever so slowly, with lots of fresh rosemary and whole garlic cloves. It cooked, covered, for hours until it exuded fragrant juices into which we dunked copious amounts of bread. With that we drank a 1982 Chateau Gloria (a very good year) from our wine cellar. A bowl of mashed root vegetables with butter and snippets of scallions and parsley added great color and were radically good. Arthur had called to ask if I had a potato masher, and I was happy to bring the treasured utensil that once belonged to my mother-in-law. The memories started to mount. 'Round midnight (one of my favorite Dexter Gordon jazz tunes), I was treated to four small birthday cakes, laid upon a large ceramic platter, one in every color. I blew out many candles and could barely hear my wishes above the fireworks outside. The beautiful cakes, "made with real buttercream," came from the Ladybird Bakery in Brooklyn. They were delicious.
And as tradition has each year beginning with a bite of cake, another tradition follows. My birthday breakfast: A glass of champagne followed by the most delicious scrambled eggs made by my husband in a double boiler so that they become velvety and Hollandaise-like. He piles them atop a hillock of smoked salmon and often garnishes them with caviar. As traditions go, it ain't half bad.
Have a happy and healthy.