Over the years, Mark and I have come to approach New Year’s Eve as more than just a chance to celebrate and have a big time. Don’t get me wrong – we love a party as much as the next couple! But we also like to take time on New Year’s to reflect on the past year and look ahead to what we want to accomplish in the next. So this year, Mark and I stayed in and celebrated the way we do it best – with food and wine.
2011 was a particularly eventful year for us. We were grateful for a fabulous first year of business at Petit Philippe, and decided to ring in the New Year with our nearest and dearest, serving a feast befitting this momentous occasion in our lives – the successful completion of our very first year as entrepreneurs! So, my sister and her husband joined us for a rockin’ meal complete with amazing wines, decadent food and good humor all around.
For the meal, I turned to Bon Appétit, where I’d found some recipes by the Isreali-born chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. I was dying to try one out, so I set my sights on the quinoa, fennel and pomegranate salad. It was divine. Complex, fresh and bright, yet also quite satisfying – it was the perfect accompaniment to the gamey richness of the pan seared duck breast with a tangy, spicy pomegranate glaze. The duck was courtesy of one of our customers, an accountant by trade but also, apparently, a fine hunter, and we were the lucky beneficiaries of his marksmanship. Thanks, Rick! The pomegranate glaze recipe came from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, though he prepares it with quail. For good measure (and just in case I botched the duck breast, which thankfully I did not), Mark grilled some peppery ribeye steaks as a back-up protein. Add in some haricots verts sautéed in shallots, and we had ourselves a veritable feast!
Mark selected the bubbly, which, although it was New Year’s Eve and perhaps we should have saved it for midnight, we actually drank first. As tired as we were just getting through the holidays with a retail shop, we doubted we’d make it to toast at midnight. Besides, who could wait several hours before enjoying a glass of 2002 L’Ermitage – undoubtedly one of our favorite bottles of bubbles from the Roederer house?! It’s from California’s Anderson Valley instead of Champagne and really shows what new world ‘champagne’ is all about. (The ’03 just made the WS 100 list!) After a couple hours of decanting, we then tasted the 1989 Chateau Fieuzal, a bottle Mark bought back in 1998 when he lived in Grenoble. It was a stunning wine from the Graves region, showing a leaner style, but still rich with fruit and minerality. We rounded out our reds with a bottle of ’06 Cabernet from Napa’s Spring Mountain – a luscious bottle of Terra Valentine, displaying the ripeness and character for which this estate is known. It was a great occasion calling for great wines.
After lots of laughter, our bellies full and our eyes bright with wine and good cheer, we settled in to watch the ball drop with my personal fave, Kathy Griffin, and her perennial New Year’s date, Anderson Cooper. Moments after that glittery Waterford crystal ball made its slow descent, we found ourselves drifting off. It was the perfect end to a nearly perfect year, and a hopeful and contented beginning to the next.