In Argentina, like in many Latin American countries, the big Christmas celebration happens on Christmas Eve. While I’ve lived in the US well over 20 years now, for me Christmas Eve will always be the time to be with friends and family and celebrate the wonder of life.
This year we were happy to have, in addition to our best friends Lola and Iggy – with whom we always spend Christmas eve – our friends Eddie and Arthur. They’ve become some of our best friends in San Leandro, and who knows, spending Christmas Eve with us may just become a tradition (if they don’t move back to Texas first).
My menu was very similar to the one I served on Christmas 2004, the last Xmas we spent in the US. Last year we were traveling in Argentina and ate at hotel in the tiny town of Cachi. But the 2004 menu had been so good, that I didn’t really want to change it. So I served:
A sliced baguette with olive oil, European butter, smoked salmon, hummus and roasted pepper sauce.
As you can expect, the smoked salmon quickly disappeared – but so did the bread. Camila couldn’t get enough of spreading the butter on the bread. She ate the center of the bread, but left the crust behind. Mika loves dipping bread in olive oil, and was quite excited to be able to do it again. Unfortunately (for her), the olive oil was the generic kind, and not the orange olive oil we tasted while shopping a couple of weeks back.
Mixed Greens Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette
This is a favorite of Mikes, and it’s so good that I usually serve it when I need to make a salad. Even Lola who dislikes blue cheese – and Kathy who dislikes cheese in general – like it here. This time I used red currants instead of cranberries (I had them at hand) and Lola thought they were an improvement.
Les Halles Mushroom Soup
Once again this was a winner. Iggy, specially, raved about it. This time I added extra morels and some porcini so everyone could get their fill. I imagine I’ll make this again next year.
Leek and Camembert Tart
Another winner from epicurious. This was everybody’s favorite of the evening. I plan to make it again, but next time I won’t try to make it into a circle, I don’t think there is much to be gained by that. A recipe was enough for 8 people but I’m sure everyone would have liked seconds.
Prime Rib with Cabernet Jus
This time I used Costco Prime Rib, prime ($11 lb), and while it was good it wasn’t nearly as good as the one I made last time ($16 lb) with meat from Galvan’s Market. Live and learn. I think next year I’ll make lamb or something different.
The cab jus was good but unnecessary.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Always a winner, and they reheat so easily. I did make too much, though (3 times the recipe). Next time I’ll just double it 🙂
Green beans almondine
Also a popular choice. This recipe is very simple and produces quite a good result – and shocking the green beans gives them a beautiful bright green color.
Dessert was a chocolate cake that Eddie brought (very, very yummy) and Costco pumpkin pie, which was also quite good.
We had several bottles of wine, all very good, but the clear winner of the evening was the Bonny Doon Muscat, Vin de Glaciere. It was impossibly delicious, and I don’t even like Muscat. If it wasn’t Christmas day, I’d send Mike in search of another bottle.
In all, we had a great Christmas Eve dinner. The kids played wonderfully in the other room, and then even ate some meat (as they knew dessert was coming). The babies were calm and friendly, and the company could not have been better.
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