Yes, I'm aware 2 months of 2012 have already passed, so it might seem a bit late for a retrospective. But I don't think there's ever a statute of limitations on memories and a day like today seems to perfect day for looking back.
Looking back at 2011, I've eaten truffles in southern Oregon and Bone Marrow in London, and sampled the finest oysters from Northern France to Seattle, Washington. Back home I've eaten more of those ribs I long for, sticky and covered in bourbon and brown sugar and dry spice encrusted ones, oh so tender from hours of slow cooking all thanks to some kitchen savvy friends. I started my first vegetable garden and with my tiny plot of land enjoyed my first homegrown French Breakfast radish, and marveled at green beans eaten right off the plant, remembering my Gramma and the bushels of beans in her garden. I fell in love, once again, with Paris and its patisseries, markets and historic streets, and fully understood the passion so many have for that great city of London. My wine glass was full of Oregon Pinot Noir and simple Portuguese Vinho Verde (so underrated!), and my oven cranked out buttery Breton cakes and I finally mastered the Levain Bread I've been striving for all these years of baking bread. And these highlights too:
A Grand Dinner Party
My birthday falls 8 days after Christmas, which is not the ideal time of year to yearn for a big party. Everyone is just over their New Years hangovers and is already starting their January cleanse. I took matters into my own hands and threw myself a party. My Grand Dinner Party, as I termed it, included an intimate gathering of 8 and 9 courses cooked by myself and my hardworking sous chef, DG.
As "It's my party, and I'll "dine" if I want to...", I set the stage for my dream dinner party. I went old school, snail mailing invitations, instilled a dress code, bought the loveliest linen napkins with blue silk embroidery, pretty handblown candle holders, brought out my Florence menu stationary and personally selected all the wine pairings. We dined past midnight. It was just as I had envisioned. My single greatest joy is feeding friends, especially in a special occasion kind of way. This evening was a memorable way to bring in the new year.
Restaurant in Portland
We ventured to Portland and Seattle for food filled long weekends. 3 nights, 3 days and you'd be amazed the assortment of dining experiences we can pack in. In PDX we fell further in love with the cocktail, as this city can really mix it up, drinking in such establishments as Teardrop Lounge, surely a bartenders dream, and Clyde Common where I had my first wood aged cocktails, a revelation of a technique involving charred planks of wood, a mason jar, some booze and time.
In Seattle we finally dined at Canlis with the ghosts of Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire. A mid century architecture dream overlooking Lake Union, a family business for over 50 years, this American fine dining superstar certainly comes with expectations, all of which were met. There are few places like this anywhere. A gem.