Carrie’s Birthday Dinner

I have really amazing friends. No – REALLY amazing friends. Several weeks ago I decided to head to my old stomping ground of Southern California for my birthday weekend. As I usually plan these events, I e-mailed all the principals to determine who was free when and a pell-mell few days are planned with me driving from Orange County to Los Angeles and back several times; seeing this friend for lunch and that friend for dinner. But my first day was wholly and entirely spent with my darling friends, Lita and Vere.

Now it is true that normally when I travel, I maniacally plan all the restaurants and eating establishments I want to frequent, but I knew that Lita liked to cook and that something quiet, small and intimate would probably take place in their home instead of the informality of a stuffy Orange County restaurant. What I was not prepared for was the stunning extent to which she would go to give me the most special birthday dinner I have ever had. You see, being a cook myself, most friends don’t usually cook for me. We go out. And as cooks know, having someone else cook for you is that much more special. Click through and read the tasting menu which left me speechless and literally brought tears to my eyes. I love you guys so much.

First Course – Appetizers served with Piper Sonoma Brut Champagne;
marinated artichoke with a sour cream, cilantro filling topped with
fresh cilantro, chilled asparagus spears with a lemon/parmesan dressing
and lemon zest, and rolled smoked salmon with cream cheese topped with
black caviar and fresh dill.

Second Course
, Fish – Butter, lime, and soy sauce sautéed halibut
topped iwth avocado butter served on a bed of mixed rice with a whole
garlic shrimp garnish.

Third Course
, Poultry – Medallions of chicken breast and sliced chicken
and apple sausage served on breaded sage stuffing with an apple cream
sauce and apple garnish.

Fourth Course
, Meat served with a La Loggia Barolo – Cubed rib eye
steak topped with shiitaki mushroom and bacon sauce served over herbed
mashed potatoes and a side of sautéed green beans with minced

Fifth Course
, Cheese served with Charles Harris Tawney Port – Chevre
with fine herbs, Italian black truffle, and White Stilton with apricots
and rosemary crackers.

Sixth Course
, Sweets – Miniature chocolate brownies topped with Kahlua
cream, a fresh cherry, and mint and caramelized bananas with a
butterscotch liqueur whipped cream served over lady fingers.

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