For my husband's birthday weekend this year, I surprised him with a special eight course dinner on the eve of his birthday.
The first course is a "A Study in Olives." I made most of the food from scratch except for the green and black tapanade, and a couple of other items like the kaiso salad and of course the cheese in the cheese course. The Tapanade/Olives are from Whole Foods Market.
The Second Course: Cold Bing Cherry Soup with Kirsch. This is a double shot of cherries in the form of Bing cherries and Kirsch or Kirschwasser ( a cherry liqueur from Germany ). I first discovered cold soups during a cruise with Celebrity Cruises. The Cold cherry soup was the best one we had there so I recreated it for my hubby on his birthday. The taste is similar to a Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup but with an extra kick.
The Third Course: Salad Greens with fresh water chestnuts, slow roasted beets and Chinese plums. I dressed the salad with a Maile Dijon vinaigrette.
The Fourth Course: We love Sashimi and so I made him checkered Hamachi(yellow tail) and salmon sashimi plate with Kaiso seaweed salad. I purchased the kaiso seaweed salad along with Grade A raw fish from a local Japanese market.
The Sixth Course: Mussel and Saffron soup. I made the mussel infused Spanish saffron broth and then made a roux in a separate pot. I added the broth, lots of cream and tender mussels and spices to the roux.
The Seventh Course(Main course): Twiced cooked pork belly with roasted garlic mashed potatoes. This took the longest to make. I bought a huge slab of fresh rindless pork belly from one of my favorite local butchers and braised it in juniper berries, allspice and other aromatics for hours. Then, I cooled it down, rubbed it with LOTS of Maile whole grain Dijon mustard and other pork friendly spices like oregano. I baked it in a 350 degree oven until it was golden brown. Three cheers for pork belly.
The Seventh Course/The Cheese Course: We love the Cheese Course at L'Espalier and Adjour'hui so I included a cheese course in his birthday menu. I picked two cheeses, one of which he is familiar with and loves -- Gruyere. The other one is an amazing and very creamy "double cream" blue cheese called St. Agur from the Basque region of France. I added gigantic fresh blackberries and homemade honeyed quince chunks.
The final course -- I kept the dessert course simple. This homemade chocolate malt pudding is made with lots of melted Dove chocolate bars and malt milk powder. I garnished the pudding with "white chocolate pearls."
Tonight's cocktail : I made my version of a Cape Cod Cocktail with Nantucket Nectar Cranberry juice, Smirnoff Vodka, Gran Marnier and freshly squeezed orange juice.