Getting lucky at ONCE in the New Year
This time, the theme was more forgiving to the faint-hearted: foods traditionally considered to bring you luck.
It was such a bitterly cold night that we felt lucky enough just to be indoors, at a table with friends and a bottle of wine.
And then the food came out.
First, potato latkes (all ingredients grown locally) with fresh apple sauce and sour cream.
Next, an amazing vegan soup, surprisingly deep and complex, made with eight kinds of beans (I'm going to stop saying "grown locally" after this, because it applies to pretty much every dish, but wanted to mention that there was a distinctly fresher flavor and creamier texture to these beans, harvested and dried just last summer.)
Then came oysters Rockefeller, loaded with spinach and cheese. If I'd eaten nothing else all night, I'd have been delighted.
Then a change of pace: beets with simple greens. The beets had a light, subtle vinaigrette that brought out their flavor beautifully.
Next up: peas and greens, the traditional southern New Year's dish. Of course, nothing is done halfway at JJ's dinners, so this dish started with slow-cooked pork as the base in which the black-eyes peas and fresh greens were braised.
Then came haddock en papillote, the paper parcels containing a perfect piece of fish with garlic, onions and cilantro in a light and lovely sake-lemongrass reduction.
And then a not-quite local palate-cleanser: small-grove grapefruit from Florida. It tasted like summer.
Next, lightly pickled cucumber, which we started happily eating until we realized it was supposed to accompany the dumplings that arrived a few minutes later. I should have taken a photo of the dumpling filling — a bright combo of crunchy shredded vegetables — but by the time I thought about it, they were gone.
For the final entrée, we had freshly made noodles (representing long life in Chinese culture) topped with a ragu of slloooooow-cooked short ribs and sauerkraut, a traditional German New Year's dish.
And then it was time for dessert. First came the fabulous combination of ginger-honey ice cream with benne wafers: brown sugar-and-butter cookies made with toasted sesame seeds. They were thin, slightly chewy, and completely addictive. (And Jenn, who made them, brought us a few extra at the end. Yay!)
For the final dish — a rich, buttery galette des rois — we were provided with candles, which we lit and stuck in our slices of cake.
And everyone, together, blew out their candles and made a wish for the New Year.
My wish? More fabulous food ...