Passover Seder 2011 – day 2

This year we hosted the first seder (SEE HERE), but my Mom cooked the second. That means a very high bar of quality.


Parker 91 for the 2001 Opus One. “Tasted twice Deep garnet-black colour. Still a lot of primary fruit with dark cherry and blackberry aromas complimented by cloves, cardamom and a hint of mint. The medium to full bodied palate provides a medium+ level of very finely grained tannins and medium+ acidity. Long finish with lingering earthy / mineral flavours. Drink now to 2019. Tasted April 2009.”

The 1998 Haut Maillet was a typical mature pomerol. Tasty, but a bit sour.


The seder plate.


The ubiquitous matzah.


Horoset, a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and other spices.


Mom’s homemade horseradish, sweetened and colored with beet juice.


The fully set table.


The components of the Hillel sandwich, a combination of matzah, horoset, and horseradish.


A sample Hillel sandwich. For more details, see here.


The salad.


Plated, endives, other greens, and smoked kosher trout. Very refreshing, and tasty.


Homemade matzah ball soup. The classic chicken broth and light fluffy balls.


Broccoli Rabe.


Sauteed with pine-nuts and currents


Brisket braised in sweet and sour sauce. Cooked to extreme tenderness.


Extra gravy.


On the plate.

To see the first night of passover, click here.

For the Hillel Sandwich, here.

Dinner Party – It all starts with Cheese

Last Friday we hosted a little dinner party. I can’t say it was purely an excuse for more cooking and food photos, but well, here they are. Everything in this meal is made from scratch.

The first course in summary.

Cheese is always a good start. This time I tried a new cheese shop, Andrew’s Cheese Shop. This is closer than my usual haunt, the The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. Andrew’s isn’t as big, but they had plenty of choices, and they were extremely friendly.

I put together a little foursome. Epoisses on the left (gooey washed rind fun), a fantastic goat, Monte Enebro, a nice rich nutty dutch cheese on the left (tasted halfway between a Gouda and Parmesan) and on the bottom, Stichelton, a beautiful rich English blue cheese.

Condiments. Marcona almonds, quince paste (the orange jelly stuff), Spanish olives, and accacia honey from Abruzzo.

The carbohydrates. Traditional french baguette, cranberry nut crisps, and olive oil cracker sticks. All from Andrew’s, and all excellent.

We also made these puff pastries from scratch. Stuffed with egg, cheese, and spinach. Basically little puff-Spanakopita.

What would all that cheese and bread be without some wine?

On the left a fantastic Burgundy, Parker gives it 92, but I’d give it more like a 94. “The 2003 Clos Vougeot explodes from the glass with licorice, dark cherries, and a myriad of spices. A wine of considerable depth, it is packed with suave black fruits immersed in chocolate. Well-structured, ripe, and exceptionally long, it will merit a higher score if its alcoholic warmth is absorbed into the wine with time (something that sometimes occurs with Pinot Noirs). Projected maturity: 2008-2017.”

On the right, earning 90 points (and again I’d give it more), “The 2006 Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone exhibits meaty, herbal, tapenade, pepper, animal fur, and damp earth-like notes. It is soft, round, lush, and best consumed over the next 10+ years.”

For the main course, we went with Salmon en Papillote, adapted from a recipe by non other than Julia Child. All done from scratch.

Sealed in with the juices are julianned vegetables, parsley, basil, garlic. We’ve done this before but tis batch turned out absolutely perfect.

And as the starch, couscous adapted from Houstons (see it HERE). I found a recipe on the web approximating what they do at the restaurant (HERE).

And then salad.

And this delicious but rather un-homogenized walnut vinaigrette (from scratch of course).

Then for dessert, our friend Geo’s Chocolate Ganache tart. He very graciously gave us this recipe after some prying, and it’s a terribly excellent and decadent dessert. Mostly it’s butter, sugar, and 70% cacao chocolate. Oh yes!

Then homemade whipped cream. None of those emulsifying agents. And homemade raspberry sauce (rasberries and sugar thrown in the blender).

And fruit to finish.

Ghost of Thanksgivings Past

This year I’m going to fully document the gluttony that is the Gavin/Flitter Thanksgiving “weekend” (it’s really more the better part of a week – WED THURS). As a teaser, I shall reveal 8 historical testaments to the gut. Each year, my mother and her sister gather to craft an exquisite and entirely homemade feast. No attention to detail is too small. Stay tuned for lavish documentation of the 2010 process.

2002 – While the feasting and plates like this go back for decades prior, it was only in 2002 with the purchase of my first DLSR that I started recording the spoils. Notice not only the large number of dishes, where everything is made from scratch (including cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc), but the carefully planed color coordination.

2003 – No two years are the same. Peas make an appearance in the green vegetable category. Dishes do repeats. For example, my mother’s incredibly delicious cranberry sauce, which has citrus, ginger, and cayenne added to the cranberries. There is a tongue searing zing to the stuff.

2004 – Asparagus and beets make an appearance.

2005 – A different salad, and the beets become a regular guest.

2006 – The sweet potatoes get an experimental dose of black mustard.

2007 – Brocoli Rabe comes onboard.

2008 – This year was the odd man out, although no less delicious. My son was born just a week before in California, and so we hosted. My aunt wasn’t able to make it and so my mother had to shoulder the load alone. No problems with the cooking, and we heard the East Coast feast went on strong too, but it just wasn’t the same without the whole gang. However, in honor of sunny California, the salad went frisse and apples. Oh, and my father and I, unaware that my new European gas BBQ had a thermometer labeled in Celsius, cooked a 20 something pound turkey in a record 2 hours.

2009 – The entire gang returned to Philly for the usual reenactment. The fare was as sumptuous as ever!

2010- This year’s plate! As good as ever.

Just so you can appreciate what the spread looks like, here is 2009′s fare before being plated.

And in case you thought deserts were neglected. Just two of the fabulous array. The “rustic apple tart.”

And my mother’s incomparable homemade pecan pie.

And last but not least: the Chefs!  My mother on the right, my aunt on the left.

CATCH UP TO THE PRESENT HERE WITH THE START OF TG 2010.