Christmas in Hawaii (oh, and a wedding too!)

Once again, both children’s school calendars cooperated, and we were able to get away the week before Christmas to Hawaii for just over a week. The daughter’s finals schedule ended the same day as the son’s school break started, and we all met up in San Francisco before flying out to Honolulu.
In addition, Jim’s brother and fiancee got married while we were there, and her children also flew out to join them for their happy day. It was a beautiful ceremony at a beautiful place, on the beach at Sherwood Forest, with waves crashing in the background. We wish them a long and happy life together!
In a case of miraculous timing, we also got to meet up and have lunch with close friends the day we were departing back home, and they were taking a cruise through the islands.
As has become typical for us, we ate our way through Honolulu. Highlights include Chef Mavro, The Pig & the Lady (for pho French dip), Yauatcha (for dim sum), and Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha (for shave ice).

with “Uncle Clay”

It was cold there (for Hawaii), sometimes dipping down into the mid-60s(!). We did not complain.
There is something about Hawaii that rejuvenates our souls and makes us feel like we belong. It is also a place of transcendent beauty. Photos do not do it justice, but I still had to try.

Honolulu Christmas lights

at Orchids (in the Halekulani) for Christmas Eve brunch

Waikiki

Waikiki at sundown

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As is typical for us, our snail mail holiday cards are late (well, definitely late for Christmas, possibly late for New Year’s, especially if your last name starts with the letter z).  🙂

For those who are not into delayed gratification, this is the electronic version of our holiday greetings.  Best wishes for 2018!

And our christmas letter 2017

Inn at Little Washington Over The Holidays

Jim and I have a tradition we’ve done for many years, which is to go spend a night at the Inn at Little Washington between Christmas and New Year’s, just the two of us. (This does not go over well with the kids, who also want to dine there and spend the night, but we ignore their protests.)

The menu has changed a bit since I last blogged about a meal there, so I thought I’d take you through what we had last night.

We started, of course, with one of my favorite dishes there—truffle popcorn. You will never want to have movie theatre popcorn again after having this. The popcorn is tossed with some herbs and spices, but the whole point of this popcorn is that it is topped with shaved black truffle. Yummmmmmm…..

truffle popcorn

truffle popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up were an assortment of amuse-bouches. These included miniature veal cheek sandwiches with homemade chips and miniature pickles;

miniature veal cheek sandwiches

miniature veal cheek sandwiches

the world’s smallest baked potato topped with caviar, “chips & dip,” cucumber rillettes topped with fish roe, and a red wine risotto ball.

assortment of amuse-bouches

assortment of amuse-bouches

Next up was a pheasant consommé accompanied by a chive gougère. The consommé was simply unbelievably fabulous and went onto my list of all-time favorite dishes (it’s a long list with a lot of Inn dishes on it).

pheasant consomme

pheasant consomme

The next course was an egg filled with a mousse of foie gras and port gelée. Not rich and decadent at all…

foie gras mousse in an egg

foie gras mousse in an egg

An old favorite of the Inn’s was resurrected and reformulated–fire and ice, which is now seared tuna served with watermelon radishes in a sesame-ginger sauce and topped with cucumber sorbet. It was like welcoming back an old friend.

fire & ice

fire & ice

I then had a raviolo of spinach topped with—you guessed it—white Alba truffles. Delectable (and so good for you, too!).

spinach raviolo (with truffles!)

spinach raviolo (with truffles!)

Jim had sweet-and-sour diver’s scallops accompanied by a shisito pepper. The sweet-and-sour was restrained and elegant, and the shisito pepper gave the dish a nice contrasting flavor (or so I’m told, I didn’t get a bite of that).

sweet and sour scallops

sweet and sour scallops

The final “entrée” was a short rib of bison that had been cooking for 14 hours, served with mustard greens and topped with homemade onion rings. The slight bitterness of the mustard greens went well with the richness of the bison and the slightly sweet onion rings.

short rib of bison

short rib of bison

The palate cleanser was the Inn’s version of a dreamsicle accompanied with crumbs of shortbread.

dreamsicle

dreamsicle

And finally (not pictured) was a Granny Smith apple tart (for me) and a visit by Faira the Cow and Cameron the cheese maestro (for Jim). And the beautiful cappuccino accompanied by a slice of biscotti.

oh, biscotti!

oh, biscotti!

The Inn was, of course, still decorated for the holidays, with festively decorated trees and garlands and holiday lights. It was a wonderful way to bring the year to an end!

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We have friends who host a gingerbread house decorating party every year.  Below is this year’s creation with the side decorated by the 14 year old son.  (The 17 year old daughter couldn’t make it this year.)

My favorite touches this year are the chimney (decorated by Jim) and the fish in the pond (made out of cut rock candy and jelly beans) and, on the right, the snowman putting up a (gummy bear) decoration.  Both of those were created by the son.

The thatched roof is generally my responsibility because it takes no creativity, but it does take consistency and persistence.  And, besides, by the time I finish with the roof, the rest of it is usually already decorated.  🙂

As usual, this year’s effort was a lot of fun!  Thank you, Joanne and Joe, for another delightful year of gingerbread houses!

IMG_3088

Christmas Dinner 2014

I often wonder whether our 13 year old son still believes in Santa Claus or not. It seems highly unlikely, especially given the precocious nature of his school. His sister is convinced it’s all a manipulative play, and she is probably correct. But it’s certainly fun to have a child who is still writing Santa a letter about what he wants for Christmas (a new bike this year), leaving a note for Santa with his chocolate chip cookies and milk and carrots for the reindeer, and waking up an hour before he’s allowed downstairs to see if Santa came. Manipulative it may be, but it’s a magnificent play.

After opening the plethora of gifts (and drones seemed to be the theme of gift-giving this year), we had extended family over and had an early Christmas dinner. (Said extended family has a 9 month old.) (As a further aside, our 16 year old daughter was TOTALLY grossed out by the 9 month old baby, who at this stage, is nothing but a glorified food processor who eats (messily), spits up (messily) and poops (messily and grossly)).

The Christmas dinner menu was as follows:

  • parsnip soup (served with gougeres)
  • 72 hour short ribs (which were actually 60 hour short ribs because we forgot to do them Monday night—oops)
  • brussel sprouts with bacon
  • mashed potatoes
  • bûche de noel
Christmas dinner 2014

Christmas dinner 2014

a "before" photo of the buche de Noel

a “before” photo of the buche de Noel

the final product

the final product

Afterwards, we all sat around in a food coma before going to bed. The very definition of a fabulous Christmas! Hope yours was Merry as well!