Happy 2010 everyone. I hope everyone had holidays filled with great company, great food and drink, and relaxation. Now that a new year is upon us I figured it was time to recap on my holidays.
After 11 relaxing days in Minnesota with family, Oliver and I have been spending time at home in Boston. When I headed to see my parents I was a bit of an emotional wreck due to some personal stuff that was going on, but after spending time with family I’m feeling much better.
The highlight for me was sharing food and conversation with family. That included trying some great local products including Crispin Brut hard cider from Minneapolis, MN and Saint Mary’s Sandstone Cave Aged Grass Fed Gouda from Edelweiss Creamery, Wisconsin. The Crispin Brut hard cider, made in the European tradition was crisp and light. At first I was hit by the almost yeastiness of the natural fermentation, but then a soft taste of ripe apple followed. It’s definitely more refined than what I think a lot of people imagine when they think of hard cider. Sadly, I’ve never seen it in Boston so I think it will have to be my special treat when spending time with my parents. The gouda was also fantastic. A first place ribbon winner in the American Made/International Style category at the 2009 American Cheese Society competition, this cheese is aged for two years in limestone caves. The flavor is milky with a tad bit of nuttiness and a subtle bite. It was a good eating cheese on its own and also delicious in a grilled cheese where it accompanied whole grain bread, sweet ham, and honey mustard. If you were building a cheeseboard and wanted to pick something that would be more unusual than block cheese, but still have near-universal appeal, this is a good choice.
In addition to the random nibbles and noshes, there were two holiday meals to enjoyed, one with my father’s side and one with my mother’s side. For the former we did a more traditional sit down meal with bacon wrapped stuffed chicken and sides. My contribution was Tyler Florence’s Creamed Spinach, which I gussied up with about 1/4 cup of mascarpone cheese and a generous sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
For my mother’s family, we continued with our traditional of having a spread of appetizers and small bites rather than a more traditional meal. This included my father’s Cream Cheese Wontons, my mom’s Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce, my Aunt Annie’s Æbelskiver Stuffed With Mozzarella and Basil with a Marinara Dipping Sauce and my Aunt Mary Beth and Uncle Steve’s Reuben Bites. For my contribution, I made Guacamole with Pear and Pomegranate Seeds from from Gourmet. I couldn’t recommend this guacamole more highly. The fruits gently balance the richness of the avocado and together it’s a beautiful melange of textures and tastes. The fact that it’s a perfect holiday red and green certainly doesn’t hurt either.
For Oliver’s part. He preferred getting love from family members and sniffing after deer scent in the snow. He played so hard that he spent a lot of the trip napping on my parents’ couches or by the front windows. Above he poses with my grandmother in the Santa suit she got him.
Overall the holidays were pretty great. I closed out the year at The Boston Pops Presents New Year’s Eve with Amanda Palmer and began the year with a New Year’s Day Banquet at Grasshopper (a local vegan Chinese restaurant) held by The Boston Vegetarian Society. All and all there was a lot to be thankful for in 2009 and I’m hoping that 2010 will pan out well too.