If you’ve been my friend a while, you’ll know just how anal I can get when it comes to food. Somehow you’ll understand how every meal’s last bite just has to be perfect. To cap off the year that was 2011, there was nothing more I looked forward to than the dinner I was set to have because right off the bat, I knew it was going to be brilliant. Before I forget to mention, all the photos in this entry were taken by my Ninong Jojo.
As tradition dictates, we celebrated in Tita Ginger’s house with a wonderful meal she prepared and cooked herself. This time around, she was set on trying new recipes so the lot of the things we ate that night were things I’ve never tried elsewhere. I don’t exactly know where we get our superstitions for the New Year but if you’ll notice on the photo above, there are 12 different kinds of round fruit. My mom also told me to stuff my pockets with money before it hit midnight, as an adequate welcome to a potentially prosperous year. Whether or not these superstitious beliefs affect anything, I sure hope luck finds me.
We arrived a little early, I think just because we were already hungry and excited to eat. To start us off, we were served Chicken Lollipops with Garlic Mayo and Frito Misto Zucchini Blossoms stuffed with Boursin. The Chicken Lollipops are already a household favorite; perfectly coated and deep fried with the right garlicky tang to kick the flavor up a notch. The Zucchini Blossoms, on the other hand, were introduced to me just that night and wow. I think that was the first time in my life I truly appreciated flowers. It’s not something I can adequately describe in terms of taste but the texture was delightful, aided by the creaminess of the Boursin filling. And no, if you were curious, flowers taste nothing like vegetables! At least, I don’t think so.
In about an hour when everything was ready, we all gathered to the buffet table and dug in. There was Caesar Salad made by my Tita Gina for starters as well. The dressing was good and the salad was packed with croutons which I unfortunately couldn’t have just because I’m trying to cut down on carbs. The Baked Almond Crusted Salmon dish was my favorite among favorites that night. The fish was fresh and maintained both natural juices and flavor while the top was crisp and flavorful. Apart from almonds, the crust had hints of both mustard and mayo and stayed crispy from the breadcrumbs in the mix. This was just really, really good. I have no words to perfectly profess my love for this dish.
We welcomed 2012 with pasta too. I don’t know anyone who isn’t big on truffle so this was a sure fire win. We had Fresh Tagliatelle with Fresh Shitake and Porcini mushrooms, Truffle Cream Sauce and Prosciutto. Most truffle dishes I’ve tried use truffle oil as an enhancement, what made this pasta so much richer was the fact that my tita used truffle cream. To balance the heavy cream were slices of prosciutto which added salt and that meaty flavor. So much for cutting down on carbs, I had two plates of this and absolutely no regrets.
For greens, we had Stir Fried Haricot Vert with Bacon. These French beans were long, thin and clean tasting which is probably why they were served with bacon. These were easy to eat and they looked like thin french fries in my plate, I fought the urge to eat them with my hands. The carnivore inside me was thrilled to have the Tenderloin with Anchovy Sauce there. It was the first time I tried anything like that, steak with anchovies. The slices were tender and mostly rare in the middle which is just the way I like it. The anchovy sauce gave it a distinct salty, kind of leafy flavor which really added to the meat’s own. My tita says it’s an Italian recipe, I forget what part of Italy she said specifically which kind of makes sense because I only ever notice anchovies in Italian recipes. (I make a mean anchovy pasta. Nicked and modified the recipe from my friend, Liana but that’s beside the point.)
When everyone was full and happy, we had Fruit Salad and Assorted Mini-Rhum Cakes for dessert. I actually had no room anymore for dessert but my family said everything was good. The assorted Rhum Cakes came in the original butter flavor, chocolate and cappuccino. I’ve had the original butter one on a different occasion and it’s really good when it’s heated a bit.
I said sayonara to 2011 the best way imaginable. I was full from a great meal, with people that matter to me, listening to 80’s music and in an intense game of Monopoly Deal by the time the clock struck midnight. We toasted to wine and sparkling grape juice (for the underage) after we all had our 12 grapes (superstition dictates) and everything was good.