Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anniversary Menu

Several years ago PJ and I began a tradition of celebrating our anniversary on our patio, menu compliments of her domestic engineer guy.

This year another couple joined us. Here are the highlights.

Special Cocktail: Mai Tais. This recipe is the closest I have found to the Hawaiian ones we have enjoyed hundreds of times over 15+ Hawaiian trips, including the ones at the infamous Mai Tai Bar on the beach at the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu.

Appetizers: Toasted Baguette Toppers. There are hundreds of toppings for olive oil slathered toasted baguette slices. Last night I served three: prosciutto, fresh pesto with shaved parmesan, and fresh pesto with diced pancetta and roma tomatoes. The last one was the big hit.

Salad Course: Watermelon Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts on a bed of arugula. Feta and Watermelon? The feta is a bit neutralized by the watermelon. Great summer salad. Three herbs, dill, basil and mint, are tossed in as well, and finished off with my Basil Dressing.

Main Course: Beef Tenderloin with Morels and Tarragon-Marsala Sauce. As much as I love a traditional bĂ©arnaise with beef tenderloin, this is my favorite filet sauce. It’s the morels—though I had to take out a loan.

Side Dish: Roasted Vegetables: haricot verts, red peppers, shallots, and carrots, topped with toasted pecans, lemon zest and Italian parsley. Roasting is my favorite method of preparing vegetables.

Dessert: Blueberry Cream Pie. The crust is mostly crushed and rolled Pecan Sandies.

Wines: Rosenblum Petite Syrah, and a highly rated (Robert Parker) but very young Conn Valley Vineyards cabernet sauvignon. I decanted it and let it breathe for two hours. Very nice. The $15 petite syrah more than held its own. Rosenblum, known for their zinfandels, has brought out some fine syrahs lately.

Even though I paid good money for the Conn Valley cabernet, the filets and the morels, I still estimate that we spent $200 less than if we had celebrated at a fine dining establishment someplace in Newport Beach or Laguna Beach, as had been our tradition. The view from our hillside backyard was just as expansive; the weather was perfect; the candles romantic; the music to our liking, and we didn’t have to drive.

However, there are those dishes. I didn’t have the heart to ask our guests to do them. Besides, they bought anniversary gifts. We left the dishes until this morning. No wine glasses were broken.

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