(new year's eve. number 25.)
The first, unofficial Secret Restaurant Portland event took place on New Year's Eve of 2009/2010. We served a simple Northwest-style Italian dinner to a small group of friends. We had cheap champagne, winter greens, garbanzo beans, bread, cheese, roasted garlic, gnocchi, salmon, ice cream, biscotti, and espresso.
The following year, as an anniversary of sorts, for our 12th official dinner, we served a "remix" of that original menu. We took the menu's contents from the year before and expanded them in a way intended to showcase our growth.
When the New Year started approaching this year, it seemed only appropriate to start planning a 3rd remix. A R-R-remix, of sorts.
Sparkling wines, elderflower liqueur, and whiskey. Guests brought the drinks in exchange for their dinner.
Snacks, out on the table:
Honey Roasted Hazelnuts
The plain filberts we started with were a gift from a family at the preschool where I teach, direct from their Hood River area orchard.
The chickpeas were soaked overnight with kambu, a sea vegetable, then slow cooked the following day. They were marinated in olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon, then roasted on cookie sheets.
Organic woven wheat cereal, peanuts, honey roasted peanuts, pretzel sticks, and our own rye crisps (made with pumpernickel bread thinly sliced and dried) then dressed with butter, worcestershire sauce, and spice.
Rustic Potato Rolls
Rustic potato bread, made with a mostly-wild yeast poolash, a whole riced yukon gold potato, and potato flour. Knot shaped, long rise, hot and fluffy.
Melted Cambozola Cheese & Roasted Garlic with Rosemary
A never-fails appetizer sort of lifted from Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria in Eugene. We've served it a couple of times. To spread on the soft, savory bread.
Purple kale, butter, cream, breadcrumbs, German hunter's cheese.
Sashimi grade salmon, french cut green beans (blanched, then cooled), lemon, shaved fennel, and the last of the backyard garden's arugula.
Giant Gnocchi with Parsley Sauce
We created a dish on the strength of the experimental steam buns of our Halloween dinner. After a few practice sessions we decided on cake flour and potato flour to create a texture very much like traditional gnocchi dough, but fillable and airy all the same. They were stuffed with a marinated/grilled portobello mushroom slice, the head of a white asparagus spear, and a boucheron (french Goat's cheese)/ricotta/truffle oil mixture. Fried up in butter and served atop a pesto made from parsley, anchovy, lemon, toasted sunflower seeds, walnut oil, and white pepper.
Figgy Something (A layered parfait slam in a wine glass.)
Traditional English figgy pudding (Andrew's own recipe, created after years of his English family stressing out about finding an imported pudding for Christmas day)– fig butter, dried turkish figs, currants, brandy, clove, blood orange zest. Laboriously steamed for 4 hours!
Blackberry Stout ice cream. We made a reduction sauce out of 3 bottles of our home brewed blackberry stout beer (yet to be debuted in bottles), which ended up somewhere between molasses and chocolate fudge. Then we made an intense french custard base for the ice cream. Mixed together, it was like the evil twin of boring cappuccino gelato.
Grand Marnier Orange sauce, as the essential booze sauce topping for the pudding and an extra treat with the ice cream.
Whipped cream on top, drizzled with more stout fudge sauce (made more intentionally like traditional hot fudge with butter and brown sugar). After the guests had received their glass of this dessert explosion, we came around with pieces of hot, fresh blood orange/hazelnut biscotti.
The gastronomic extravaganza concluded, we got around to the dancing! Long after midnight, when the dancing had died down, people laid down on the floor and put Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' on the record player, then perked up for a game of Apples to Apples. Most people left around 4 a.m.
The last photo shows the sunset, New Year's Day, after we finished tidying up.
Many thanks to our new third cook/sous chef Hannah McDevitt. She helped plan, prepare, and execute this meal. She created the napkin ring/boutonniéres which served as party favors (as well as making the napkins!), and sewed the letters/created the winter bouquet for our "cheers" display. She also took some of the photographs you see here. She has a book on dressmaking published through Chronical Books, visible here.
I hand set type and letterpress printed the menus on recycled file folders.
Our friends Russell and Raoule, visiting from Eugene, in addition to winning the "best dressed" award for the night, were indispensable helpers in prepping vegetables and fruits throughout the day.
Special thanks also to former third cook/sous chef Will Boal, who made a surprise appearance in Portland for the dinner, wore fabulous suspenders, got wasted, encouraged the hours of dancing, and also found time to do most of the dishes.