Few meals are as pleasurable as those spent with good friends in a cozy home while outside Mother Nature is pitching a fit of truly memorable proportions. I learned a few fun facts this holiday. The city of Seattle possesses a total of 27 snowplows and we can count on a white Christmas 7 percent of the time. Folks are getting cranky about all this ice and snow—none moreso than those unfortunate Metro riders—but I say bring it on. I'm originally from New England and haven't enjoyed a Christmas like this in ages. Even in New England, it seems, they don't make snow like they used to.
Not so this year. The white stuff is general across the continent. Apparently all of Canada is snowed in for the first time since the early 70s. I certainly can't remember a more festive Hanukwanzmas holiday in Seattle. We've been sledding up a storm at the local hill and building all manner of igloos, forts, and snowmen. Maybe commerce has ground to a halt but the dreams of children (and child-like adults!) are soaring.
Or were. The rain is back today and now the streets are really a slushy mess. Flood warnings have replaced snow warnings.
Last night we braved the horrendous driving conditions to head uptown to the home of old friends for one of those Christmas dinners that begins as soon as you walk in the door and hasn't really ended by the time you pack up the tired kids several hours later. An arsenal of champagnes, wines, and appertifs accompanied h'ors d'ouevres and multiple courses, and everyone joined in for the making.
Tipton, a former denizen of the snow-free La-La-Land, chose a menu from the superb Sunday Suppers at Lucques for the meal, which included a seafood course of Scallops with Chanterelles, Sherry, and Parsley Breadcrumbs. The chanties, a pound in all, came from my stash in the freezer. We briefly sauteed them in butter with a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves and then added 2 pounds of scallops and a large chopped onion and stirred to coat the scallops before adding a cup of sherry and a cup of chicken stock. We let this bubble for a couple minutes to reduce, then added another tablespoon of thyme leaves and half a cup of heavy cream and killed the heat. Two tablespoons of chopped parsley finished the dish.
At the table we topped our portions with toasted breadcrumbs baked with chopped parsely, a step that seemed gratuitous at the time but turned out to be a wonderful addition of flavor and texture. The delicious broth was sopped up with crusty bread.
The rest of the menu (#25, in the "Winter" section) included an Onion Tart with Cantal, Applewood-smoked Bacon, and Herb Salad; Potato Puree with Horseradish Cream; and Braised Beef Short Ribs with Pearl Onions and Kale.
Hats off to Tipton and Bridget for their gracious and too-generous hosting. We'll be seeing them again for New Year's Eve, at our place, for a Paella feast to kick off a hope-filled 2009.