Birthday for 2 Menu

Last year, I made a birthday dinner for a couple.  The menu was particularly fun because the guy was planning a birthday surprise for his girlfriend across from Staples Center in the new high-rise condos.  It was a nice pre-Christmas dinner where the kitchen was workable with a large counterspace.  He said to me, “buy whatever you want.”

“She loves seafood, but I’m allergic to all shellfish.  But, make it special for her.” Cool dude!  Traditionally, I like to pair each course with a wine, but for 2, it might be overkill.  They weren’t huge drinkers, so we did 2 champagnes and one heavier Pinot Noir with the duck/chicken hearts.  I planned to make him a separate non-shellfish course with every course that was sent to her.  I shopped everywhere.  The seafood markets downtown.  The Wednesday (awesome) farmer’s market in Santa Monica, CA.  I bought all sorts of shit.  Shit I didn’t know if I would use, or things I would force myself to use, just because they looked nice.

The persimmons ended up being so tangy that I 1) had to freeze them and 2) not serve them at the dinner because it would just ruin the palate.  A lot of last minute changes – for instance, added an extra tagliolini & lentil salad.  The smoked salmon was a last minute addition, too.  Though I had an unlimited budget, and making one dish (bacon /tuna) for instance would require me to buy more than enough bacon for two, I chose to re-use some ingredients whereas a traditional restaurant with tasting menu may only serve one ingredient once throughout the dinner.  Here, it was Bacon & Creme Fraiche.  Let’s get real, bacon could should be its own course.

  • Shigoku Oysters – I love starting with Oysters because it’s a small bite that always gets me hungry.  It’s great for celebrations
  • Scallop Ceviche w/ Crème Fraiche, marinated Naval Orange segments, Watermelon Radish - This was a diver scallop from the east coast.  I found some Watermelon radishes that were beautiful but more bitter than I expected.  I sliced them thinner.
  • Heirloom Carrots, Chanterelle Mushrooms, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano – This was something for the non-seafood eater to eat that was made on the spot
  • Smoked Salmon w/ Crème Fraiche, Chives, Shaved Celery Root – really nice Smoked Salmon. simplicity
  • Razor clams(mmmmmmmmm), heirloom tomatoes, lemon, Fried Applewood-Smoke Bacon bits - I think the bacon overpowered the clams.  they’re very delicate and delicious.  Bacon and seafood is awesome tho :)
  • Lentil Salad w/ Shallots, Shredded Moulard Duck, Fried egg – “peasant” food with awesome duck confit!
  • Yellowfin Tuna Loin wrapped in Applewood-Smoked Bacon w/ Swiss Chard, Heirloom Carrots, Balsamic Vinegar, Simple Syrup, Bacon-Fat reduction - on the topic of I LOVE BACON.  The bacon was thicker, so I took a meat pounder and pounded it thin, wrapped up the tuna and rendered some bacon fat.
  • Homemade Tagliolini w/ Ragu of Jidori Chicken Hearts, Jidori Chicken Leg, Chanterelle mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano - it was extremely funny to see them enjoy this.  And then think for a few minutes as I told them what they were eating ;)  You’re eating the legs and the breasts of the animal why not the heart?
  • Duck two ways: Homemade Spaetzle, duck breast; braised lentils w/ shallots & bacon bits, leg of Moulard Duck Confit - homemade pasta is always a winner.  duck confit? yipeekaiyay.  Here are a few pictures with the original menu and the kitchen setup…
beautiful farmers market stuff. original menu, got changed a few times
prep
diver scallop ceviche w/ Crème fraîche  & watermelon radish
duck two ways: duck leg confit on braised lentils, breast of moulard duck on homemade spaetzle & basil puree
applewood smoked bacon tuna loin w/ bacon fat balsamic reduction, swiss chard, heirloom carrots