(new year's eve. number 36. our 4th anniversary!)
I'm waiting on the weather
and I know you'll pass
I know that it's true
It's gonna be a good year
Out of the darkness
And into the fire
I'll tell you I love you
Secret Restaurant Portland began four New Year's eve's ago. That night was not our official start, but it was the first sprout of what this project has become.
We were on sabbatical of sorts in November and December, while I (Andrew, the narrator you read here on the blog) travelled a northeastern path in Europe– through England, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Turkey. Another adjunct blog telling that story can be found here at Autumn Wanderers.
I had sublet the room in my house (where the majority of these dinners take place) for the duration of Nov/Dec, and so did not return until the afternoon of New Year's Eve. Lucas and I had met in Eugene the day before Christmas to plan the menu and execution of it.
Knowing our prep time was limited (mid afternoon to mid evening) and that we wished to have no real limit to the number of guests invited, (it being my home-coming, the anniversary, and our first event in months) our 4th remix of the original menu took the form of bite sized hors d'oeuvres.
Basic elements found in all our New Year's meals that we kept in mind:
Past New Year's S.R. blog posts, for reference:
Indispensable help shout-outs:
Will Boal, our old 3rd-cook from the "late 2010/early 2011" era, who always manages to be in Portland for New Year's despite pastures new, came early with his partner Hannah Keen, and they did a visionary-status-worthy job prepping vegetables. They met as apprentices on Let Us Farm (and hosted our Sept. 2011 farm lunch) and now run 26th Street Farm together in Hastings, Nebraska.
Alex Rosenblatt, who is the most recent resident of the Secret Restaurant Portland house, made the house immaculate before the party, helped prep, make chocolate sauce and lifted the hummus with some magic garlic sauce making.
Report on the party:
A ragingly large attendance by the midnight hour (Peter shied away from snapping pictures when things got crazy, so you'll have to take our word for it), but everyone managed to be fed and have plenty of drink.
OUT ON THE TABLE:
We prepared the salmon in a marinade, sous-vide ("under vacuum"- yes, Lucas got a vacuum sealer for Christmas. Watch out!) in a tall pot on the stove. The skins were removed, seasoned, and broiled into a sort of salmon-skin bacon.
The delicate, juicy, euphoric pieces of salmon were served on sesame melba crackers with whipped fresh dill butter, topped with slivers of the crispy skins.
Pickled Purple Salads
Ludicrously finely chopped chard stems/leaves and damn fine purple carrots. Dressed with sherry, white wine vinegar, spiced plum juice, and salt.
Belgian Endive Pistachio Hummus Cups
The name says it all. Super 1980s "foodie" style. Roasted chickpeas blended with home-made pistachio butter and thyme. Served in endive cups with garlic simmered in oil, lemon juice, and a little brown sugar, finished with drops of green styrian pumpkin seed oil.
I really channeled my inner Italian grandmother and made 15 pounds of gnocchi- using yukon gold potatoes, salt, olive oil, white flour, and potato flour. Not exaggerating. It was, distinctly, "off the hook." Fried in butter, rolled in parsley pesto, and skewered with kalamata olives.
Remembering the success of the tangelo in 2010/11's biscotti, I looked in the citrus box that had been sent to my parents for the holidays and found some prime fruits to work with. These contained a large quantity of tangelo zest and juice, along with toasted pecan pieces, toasted walnut pieces, and lots of cloves.
They were dressed in a really intense chocolate, which Lucas and Alex crafted in two batches- one including milk and another only chocolate and ludicrously good Water Avenue coffee prepared as espresso.
Like last year, we asked guests to each bring a bottle of sparkling wine rather than paying for their food/the experience. There were copious bottles, so it flowed in the manner associated with parties mentioned in the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. So, for me, a dream of life.