Last year for New Year’s Eve we thought we made it pretty clear for New Year’s Eve and Day that we weren’t putting on a big party with dancing, noisemakers, etc., just a straightforward Casa S dinner with an extra champagne toast at midnight on the 31st. We also only charged a small upcharge for being open those two nights – to be honest, simply because we were open. Meanwhile, other folk in town were doing it up, and charging hefty prices for it. Different strokes. Most of the folk who came last year got it, though a group of four from LA didn’t, and got pretty caustic about it, both at the dinner and afterwards, putting a damper on the whole thing for the other guests and us. We almost didn’t open this year, but talked it over and decided on the same approach, and, thankfully, this year it worked out. We were simply open, same terms – the idea on our end, we were a place where people who weren’t looking for an over the top celebration could come and have a good dinner, wine, conversation, and meet some new friends.
We ended up with a waiting list for the 31st of more than four dozen requests, sorry we just couldn’t fit you all in. A local friend gave me a buzz on the 31st hoping we had a space for her as she was spending the eve alone, we didn’t, but invited her to come help me out in the kitchen, which she did with aplomb, it was nice to have someone to help me plate things and to chat with. I may do a little more of that…. For the ten folk each night who joined us, on to the food, where we played off of a few favorites as well as trying to bring in some New Year’s traditions from different cultures.
Vitello tonnato is a classic holiday dish around here, perhaps more aimed at Christmas than New Year’s, but plenty is served for the latter. I wanted to lighten it up a bit and decided on a grilled eggplant tonnato – so here we have sundae cups of grilled eggplant, olive-oil confited cherry tomatoes and herbs, with a slightly spicy tonnato sauce, crunchy garlic croutons, and a charred green lemon wedge for those who wanted to add more acidity. I’ve already had several requests for the recipe for the tonnato sauce, so recipe coming in a new BA Herald column.
Clarified shellfish, chili and red miso broth with a mix of prawns, razor clams, mussels and scallops, plus roasted beets and different colored carrots (orange, white, yellow and deep purple), a little cilantro.
Semolina crepe wrapped around our homemade cream cheese flavored with a mint and basil pesto; fresh mushroom and tomato sauces, sauteed baby portobellos and leeks.
A reprise of a favorite Sardinian dish with pork shoulder steaks braised in a sweet and sour dark chocolate sauce, served over black-eyed peas and accompanied by some braised red cabbage. An interesting moment at the end of the evening when one woman asked me what the flavors were that spiced the cabbage, because she’d really liked it, and I told her caraway and juniper. She gasped a little and said, “but I’m deathly allergic to juniper, that should have sent me to the hospital”. 1) That would have been good to know when we asked about food allergies, I mean, we also served a cocktail at the beginning that had we know wouldn’t have had gin, intentionally rather than just by chance, and 2) She’s not allergic to juniper. Turns out she has a bad reaction to gin, so likely it’s one of the other spices or herbs in it, or maybe she just drank some bad gin!
Here in Argentina it’s traditional to eat 12 grapes at midnight. We figure we got it in with a fresh grape and hazelnut tart followed by a champagne toast.
Thanks go out to both Fred at Silver Star Car and my friend Raquel who’d come to help out in the kitchen for providing the late night rides back to hotels for our guests!