Saturday, December 31, 2011
Happy New Year: Remembering December 2011
My December was a busy one, filled mostly with meals and celebrations with friends and the added time-consumer of completing my final project for my Landscape Architecture Class.
As we start a new year, I share the highlights of December 2011.
We started the month off with what has become our annual "Remembering Ted" dinner.
It is now three years since our special longtime friend Ted was senselessly murdered. The evening of our dinner, we learned that his murderer's appeal was denied and that the man will remain in jail...thankfully.
Ray and Liz came to our house for dinner. What's most amazing about our little group of friends is that, while Liz was Ted's neighbor, she never met him. What brought her to us was that she found and rescued the one of Ted's two cats that survived the fire in Ted's house. Now the cat lives with Ray. Several times of year we get together to celebrate and remember Ted's vibrant life.
Then Jim and I celebrated his birthday for two days. On the day of his birthday, we had lunch at Sasa in Walnut Creek...a terrific Japanese California fusion Isakaya restaurant.
The next day we headed into San Francisco to look at Christmas decorations and to walk around Union Square. We first stopped at the Sheraton Palace where there was a display of Gingerbread Houses designed by local celebrities and charitable organizations. We got to vote on our favorite.
At Neiman Marcus their huge tree just about hit the historic domed ceiling by the main entrance.
The pastry chef at the St. Francis Hotel had created an enormous multistory Gingerbread Castle that was on display in the lobby.
The tree in Union Square was brightly illuminated and Macy's shone in the background.
We then had dinner at Le Central, a classic French bistro which has remained one of our favorites since in opened in 1974.
It's been a few years since our last visit. The food is as good as ever and the menu remains much the same.
Jim started with the Onion Soup Gratinée and followed with one of the day's specials, a stuffed Filet of Sole.
I ordered my favorites: the Celery Root Remoulade to start and the Cassoulet for my main course. Le Central keeps count of the number of days that the Cassoulet has been cooking. Right now it is more than 13,000 days!
Very few restaurants serve Buche de Noel despite it being a traditional French Christmas dessert. Discovering it on Le Central's menu, we could not resist sharing a slice. It was pure heaven!
My next home entertaining was my annual Ladies' Crab Dinner.
This party dates back to the early '80s when I left my San Francisco corporate job to start the Where-To-Guide. I missed regularly seeing some of my San Francisco friends and colleagues and came up with the idea of having a dinner for these friends. Because December is a busy month for me, I chose an "easy" menu: Cracked Crab, Salad, and Sourdough bread. The party continues on each year...some of the original guests still come and many new friends have been added. It's a lively evening and, for many who attend, a chance to connect and reconnect with women whom they've met at this dinner. And, in all these years, there has only been one year when crab was not available and I resorted to making lasagne, much to the dismay for all those who attended...it was good but they wanted their crab!!!
Christmas Day brought another dinner at home, this year with Barbara, Sue, and Starr as our guests.
Our main course was a Flank Steak & Swiss Chard Roulade on a bed of mixed grains.
To start, we had a Cauliflower Soup.
And for dessert, Buche de Noel.
This was one of my favorite Christmas meals and I've provided links to the Roulade and Soup recipes, should you wish to try them yourselves. The Buche came from Whole Foods who make a delicious version.
Of course we enjoyed an abundance of wonderful gifts as well.
Jim's gift from Barbara was a wine aerator which allows you to open a bottle of wine without needing to let the wine breathe. It aerates a glass at a time!
Louie received many fine toys.
One of his favorites was an entire stuffed toy lobster dinner. One it's serving plate is the lobster, an ear of corn, lemon and a baked potato. As you can see, the potato was his favorite, or, at least, what he grabbed first.
Eventually, he got around to literally trying to eat the lobster!
As so ends 2011!
Wishing you all good health and happiness in 2011. HAPPY NEW YEAR!