Happy New Year!
I welcomed in the New Year last night with friends and food and continued in that spirit today with our traditional New Year's Day lunch of Dim Sum and dinner at home of Hoppin' John and Collard Greens.
We met M and D at Tullio's in Walnut Creek for New Year's Eve dinner.
Tullio's is a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant that J and I dine at often. It is friendly. The prices are moderate. The food is tasty and plentiful. And, it is a few miles from home. We've spent many a New Year's Eve at Tullio's.
The dining room was packed when we arrived.
On New Year's Eve, about a dozen of the most popular menu items are served as complete dinners...soup or salad, the main course, dessert, and coffee or tea, for a fixed price. Other beverages were extra.
We toasted our friendship and got started with dinner
M & I started our dinners with the Butternut Squash Soup. It was so good that I forget to take a picture. The men had salads.
Our main courses were Jambalaya Risotto, Cavatappi Pasta with Steak and Mushrooms, Chicken Saltimbocca, and Veal Piccata.
The dessert was an Eclair!
At noon today, New Year's Day, we headed for Tin's Tea House, again in Walnut Creek. Tin's also has an Oakland location. Tin's offers a greater variety of Dim Sum than any other Dim Sum restaurant that I know of in the Bay Area. At lunch time they also offer some noodle dishes. At dinner there is limited Dim Sum to go with a wide selection of dishes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dim Sum, they are small plates of a few pieces of any given item. Sort of like Chinese Tapas or Small Plates. The story I know about Dim Sum is that many years ago, Chinese restaurants were places where local people gathered to get together with their friends. They would drink tea. The restaurants started cooking up the equivalent of Chinese snacks and would bring them around to the customers as they were cooked. That's the way it still works but most of us don't spend a whole morning or afternoon eating Dim Sum, but rather go in for a lunch meal. The food is brought around, right from the kitchen, on wheeling carts or trays. If you want a dish, you tell the server "yes." If you don't want a dish, you turn it down. When you have had enough to eat, you ask for your check. You are charged by the number of plates that you've eaten. When you accept a plate, the server marks it on your check.
In the hour or so that we were at Tin's, we had seven plates of Dim Sum. My favorites today were the Seaweed Salad and the Mango Shrimp Rolls.
We also had BBQ Pork Buns, Stuffed Eggplant, Shrimp Dumplings, Scallop Dumplings, and, to finish our meal, the sweet Sesame Balls stuffed with Lotus Seed Paste.
Later in the afternoon, I got started on our traditional New Year's Day dinner: Hoppin' John and Collard Greens. About twelve years ago I read that in the American South, these dishes are traditionally eaten on New Year's Day and said to bring good luck for the year. Liking the idea of good luck for the year, I started making Hoppin' John and Collard Greens my New Year tradition as well.
Hoppin' John is Blackeyed Peas and Rice, with bacon, onions, and hot sauce. I steam the Collard Greens with more bacon and onions and season them with Hot Sauce as well. I serve them with Corn Bread.
Here's to good luck and good health in 2009!