No photos of the bro and sis-in-law yet, but they are visiting from France and we are so happy to have them here for 10 days. They even almost got in on-time yesterday, even with all the weather and shit. Stayed home and cooked rather than going out, since they’d just spent 8 hours on a plane and had been up for some ridiculous number of hours and are both nursing colds. Baby Back Ribs and Lobster Tails (they were so good at Xmas Eve dinner, had to make them again) and Dawn made a delicious Celery Root/Golden Beet dish. And we even had a bottle of REAL Champagne. Happy New Year.
Beef Tenderloin is a pretty classic and basic dish to serve guests on Christmas Eve, from what I understand and I can definitely see why. For one thing, it is pretty easy to cook. Just stop when it hits the desired temperature (138 this year, though typically, I would go for 135, since I like a strict medium-rare. Sometimes I go a few degrees higher when entertaining guests) and that’s pretty much it. Of course, if you can introduce a few added touches, like mashing some dry-roasted garlic with olive oil and rubbing it into the meat and then coating with pepper, even better. So, that’s what I did. Then you really should sear the outside if at all possible. The recipe I consulted called for doing so in a skillet, but since this was a 3.5 lb. tenderloin and I didn’t want to set-off the smoke alarm in the kitchen, I actually took it out to my Big Green Egg while it was still around 500 degrees and seared it there, about 30 seconds a side. Add some lobster tails and you get one of the best surf and turfs I personally have ever had. I marinated the lobster in some apple wine, honey and veggie stock for about an hour and then smoked them along with the beef when it was about 1/2 hour from being done. Delicious. I really should have taken a picture of our guests, though, since they were what really turned a good meal into a great time.
… is always infinitely more welcome than are the subsequent snowstorms. Particularly when it is of fairly moderate size and makes your back and front lawn infinitely prettier than it was just the night before. That’s maybe the best kind, as it reminds one of their childhood often times and used to occasionally mean a potential reprieve from a day at school and possibly some good sledding. Unless you moved to Chicago from Puerto Rico when you were 27 ,which would greatly reduce the chances you had seen a lot of snowstorms during your youth. Being from Maine originally, I can’t help but find the first snow a pleasant and somehow comforting event, particularly when, as was the case today, I awake to find my backyard and all the trees covered in bright white snow. Check it out. Even the alley looks kind of clean and pretty.
Another fun Thanksgiving holiday this year, with a great group of friends and tons of delicious food, some of which I may have to have for breakfast this morning… Fraser made some incredible bread and Chris made both potatoes AND a really delicious mahogany rice. Dexter’s Sweet Potato Pie was awesome – my first ever, I believe. And Jen and Mike brought the sweet potatoes that Jen made last time we visited them and they were perfect just like last time. Not too sweet, no marshmallows, just delicious. I wish I had thought to get a picture of the whole spread, but I just have the turkey pics, really. I made stuffing and potatoes and Dawn made an awesome Chocolate Pecan Pie. None of which I got pics of. She also did a great job on the table setting and I usually get pics of that, too, but didn’t this year. The food was good and the company even better. We are lucky to be able to spend the holidays with great friends each year and this year was no exception.
We had a beautiful October 30th this year and it fell on a Saturday, so we took advantage of the warm, sunny day and carved pumpkins on the back patio. Just because we don’t have kids, doesn’t mean we can’t flex our artistic muscle every so often by gutting a gourd and cutting holes of a certain sized and shape into it to create a Halloween themed silhouette when backlit by a candle. A “Jack-O-Lantern”, that is.
Just got back from San Diego last night and we had a great time, not just at the wedding, but in general, despite not knowing enough to stay in the “Gas Lamp District” this time around. If/when we return, we’ll be sure to make our accommodations about 7 or 8 miles south of Mission Bay. Not that MB wasn’t nice, there just isn’t much there is all. But the wedding at Balboa Park, well that was something else.
First of all, it was just under 70 degrees, perfect wedding weather, really. Ethan and Jaimie were officially wed at around 4:20 PM or so in a very brief, non-religious, all about Ethan and Jaimie, ceremony outside Prado restaurant. This makes two such weddings in a row we have attended and from now on a condition upon which I may insist before RSVPing. Beautiful, succinct and nobody trying to get me to join their religion. After the initial ceremony, we adjourned to the courtyard for cocktails and then to the ballroom for the remainder of the ceremony, including what was probably the best wedding meal I have ever had. I don’t recall what the other options were, but I opted for the chicken and it was delicious. Not dry, not tough, and the preparations was actually a bit on the creative side, which never happens. In fact, the food at the wedding was better than at “The Red Marlin“, the overpriced restaurant at the Hyatt in Mission Bay.
The Prado ballroom was beautiful, as is much of the architecture and grounds of Balboa Park. We spent quite a lot of time walking around the park the day before the wedding, a rather quiet Saturday due to somewhat inclement weather (gray and a bit misty). Here are pictures from the whole weekend. Didn’t get a ton of good photos at the wedding, but it was beautiful and we were very happy to be a part of it. Or in attendance, at least.
Didn’t have my new site up yet a couple weeks ago, when we flew to Portland, ME for a beautiful, small, fun wedding and reception by the sea. It was a great time, as it is bound to be when one finds oneself among Leadbetters. Great bunch, them. Too bad Lindsay couldn’t make it, but she had just given birth a few weeks prior and was advised against traveling so’s to avoid any potential health risks for the very young Wyland, whose immune system ain’t all that just yet.
We just had a great weekend in beautiful Austin, TX. The weather was great- 80′s and, surprisingly, not humid at all. We got to hang out with some friends we always love to see and meet/socialize with friends and family from both sides of the ceremony. No church, no religion at all, just a ceremony joining two people who decided they would like to be joined. Probably the best I’ve seen, or at least in my top 3 weddings. I even got to sip Zinfandel during the ceremony. Pics will be posted once we get home. We are currently still 24,000 feet or so high on an American Airlines flight. It will be nice to be home again, though, with Murray and Penny. We tend to miss them, even over short trips like this one. Stay tuned for photos…
Wow, today was a beautiful one in downtown Chicago and my good friends, Chip (Niall Campbell) and Kristie Campbell (nee Samuel) were at the Chicago Gourmet event in Millennium Park, along with several of their staff from Firefly Grill. The food was amazing, not just at their booth, but at pretty much all of them, though Myron and Phil’s lamb was more than a little overcooked. There was maybe one other booth that wasn’t so great, but it was almost 60 degrees and sunny and the food and beer were delicious. Thought I would post some photos from the day:
Grilled some pretty good bone-in pork chops last night and spent a fun evening eating them with friends. Naturally, there were cocktails involve and the wine flowed like fermented grape juice. Didn’t get a photo of the chops, but they were pretty simple. Fired-up the BGE and then reduced the temp to a little below 300 degrees. Added a few chunks of hickory and cooked them until the internal temp reached about 120 degrees. Opened up the bottom and top vents to get the air flowing through the grill, added a simple, but good bbq sauce and got a nice crispy crust on them. The flames were pretty high, so it didn’t take too long. Got the temp of the chops up to about 145 degrees and let them rest for a bit. Dawn made some delicious leeks to accompany the chops as well as a great chutney that involved BACON. Yum. I don’t have pics, but here are some cool photos of some 2″ thick lamb chops from Paulina Meat Market. These I seared at about 600 degrees and then shut off all the air to the BGE and finished ‘em slow at about 250 degrees or so.