We had a White Christmas! There was still snow on the ground yesterday morning from last week's storm and then about 5:00 it began to snow again, laying down a fresh white covering. It must have snowed lightly during the night because we found about an inch on the walk and yard this morning which was very lovely. It's quite cold -- just in the low 20's -- so the snow will last a while.
Our friend Lotus and her husband Dan came to Christmas Eve dinner, bringing along a wonderful mole sauce for the enchiladas we made together. We had a leisurely Christmas morning and then enjoyed having our friends Ray and Paula and That Handsome Dog Gus over for dinner. After champagne and cavier (thank you, Ray!) we had the New York Times' bean and farro soup for a first course and Emeril Lagasse's shrimp scampi for the main course. All so good! Some additional friends came over for dessert which was homemade ice cream (peppermint and vanilla) with hot fudge sauce. (If you're looking for a good homemade recipe, you could do a lot worse than this one from the Brown Eyed Baker.)
We did finally get the tree decorated.
This was the first Christmas that I ever received a gift with a tag written in Japanese.
Here's the giver. He looks pretty happy doesn't he? And he hasn't even opened any gifts yet. Yes, that's Spikey....
...and here's Fetcher. They all were enjoying the morning with us. (Can you tell that Fetcher still doesn't like the cold and snow?)
We'd had a busy few days leading up to Christmas. The highlight, however, was the "Truffle Dinner" at Ray & Paula's last Saturday. Inspired by a local fine restaurant which presents elegant gourmet dinners featuring truffles when they are in season from December through March, Ray cooked a special dinner of three courses highlighting black and white truffles. Truffles are vaguely like mushrooms; you can see them on the white counter in this photograph. The black ones are Perigords from France and the white ones are Albas from Italy.
They are big knobs and you slice them into thin slivers using a shaver. Here's our friend John shaving a white truffle on to a plate of homemade pasta. You have to be a brave person to use a truffle shaver!
Here you can see the slices.
The menu was fresh tagliarini with shaved white truffle, Black truffle risotto, and Tournedos Rossini, which was a fillet with black truffle, foie gras, and Madeira sauce. I was surprised to find that I loved the fillet with the foie gras. I had tried foie gras in France and wasn't wowed, but in this dish it really sang to me.
Here's the chef with his pasta tree, looking very happy, as well he should.
Paula served as sous chef, doing an admirable job of keeping the kitchen under control and cooking up a delicious pan of shaved brussel sprouts.
Besides being entertaining and grateful, the job of the guests was to bring fabulous wines to accompany the meal.
After such delicious food and wine everyone was properly relaxed and happy.
It was all great fun. Cheers!
To offset such indulgent evenings we kept up our hiking this week, despite the snow. We often hiked around through the University which is reliably shoveled and downtown, which is mostly shoveled. But we went up to Chautaugua once or twice and it is a whole other world up there in the snow. You can get a glimpse of this in the photo of Ben putting on his snow cleats around 3:30 one afternoon. As the sun begins to go behind the mountain the light changes and it becomes quite magical.