Monday, January 15, 2007

A Fantastic New Year's Dinner

(small winter village I have that I keep up after Christmas until March - it's just so pretty!)

As I mentioned, we had a great dinner out on New Year's Eve. We went to Chives for their 6 course New Year's Eve Special Dinner. We'd been to Chives a couple of times before. They create excellent dishes focusing on local products in season. And for the quality of the food, the prices are excellent. The atmosphere is nice and the service is always excellent. We've always walked away pleased with the experience.

For this New Year's Eve dinner they had a set menu. It was well thought out with a nice blend of seasonal tastes and a good balance between courses. We got a bottle of red wine, Wolf Blass Shiraz Cabernet Sauv and 1/2 litre of white, a South African Savignon Blanc so that we could pair our different courses with the right wine (right being a relative term when one refers to wine of course).

We started with Dungeness Crab and Sweet Corn Fritters. I love corn but Tim is not a huge fan. That was irrelevant with these. We were only given a little fritter each, just enough to tantalize the taste buds. They were great with a sip of the white wine. Next came the soup. Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Balsamic Syrup drizzled on top. Pumpkin soup just does not get the recognition it deserves. It was tasty and soothing to the soul. I make pumpkin soup at home all the time with 100% pure pumpkin from a can. Great inexpensive and easy meal. Of course mine never tastes quite as yummy as this bowl was at Chives. And the white wine worked well with this course as well but the red also had its charm...

I'm going to be honest here... I'm not a huge fan of raw spinach. I like it just fine cooked, preferable in a sauce of some type or with some cheese added in. Tim loves spinach and is why we have it at home so often. Well, that and it's good for you. The next course was an Organic Spinach Salad with "That Dutchman's Blue Cheese", Spiced Walnuts and Cranberry Apple Vinaigrette. Oooh, myyyy god! I brought home the menu just so I could try this one at home. This was amazing. The tang of the blue cheese against the sweetness of the vinaigrette all layered with the natural bitterness of the spinach. I vowed right then and there to attempt more spinach salads at home. And to consider ordering them when I'm out. The red wine stood out here.

Okay, 3 more courses to go. However, we weren't stuffed yet. All these flavours were served in excellent serving sizes so you got the full taste but weren't stuffed. And I had worn my stretchy pants!

For the next course we had a choice between a potato and goat cheese dish or a bacon dish. Tim had the potato dish and I had the bacon. I'm not a fan of goat cheese. Tim enjoyed his but felt he didn't have enough of the goat cheese taste. I had a bite of his and I tasted goat cheese quite strongly. I'm not sure if I got a good bit of it in my bite or if he was expecting a stronger taste overall. My bacon dish was a good size chunk of molasses cured bacon on apple confit and a toast point. It was tasty but not the highlight of the meal. I enjoyed it but if there was one item I had to give up from the meal, this would have been it. I enjoyed the red wine with my dish while Tim found that both the red and the white worked well with his.

Here comes the main course! Once again we had a choice. I had the Atlantic Halibut with Scallops, Roasted Garlic and Baby Clam Risotto and Riesling Braised Leeks. Tim had the Filet Mignon with Maple Wood Smoked Bacon, Brown Butter Celery Root Puree, Roasted Root Vegetables and Madeira Veal Jus. I love Halibut. And the Risotto was quite tasty. Usually when they say "roasted garlic" the garlic flavour is too mild but not in this dish. My plate was a seafood lovers dream. Tim was equally as thrilled with his filet mignon. It was a red meat delight. I had more white wine while Tim continued to enjoy the red with his meal.
Now I'm not a huge dessert person. I can live without it mostly. I do love chocolate but a little goes a long way with me. I will, however, always get the creme brulee if is on the menu. And much to my delight - Caramel Creme Brulee was part of the dessert course! It was paired with a French Chocolate Ganache Torte with Terry's Chocolate Orange Ice Gelato. No problem with milk allergies or lactose intolerance here! We both cleaned our plates.... Ahhhh.

Consider hitting a special tasting menu near you next New Year's Eve. It's worth it! What a nice evening out. And we were home in time to cheer in the new year with family. It was a great New Year's Eve this year. Here's wishing you all a peaceful and prosperous new year.

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