The Last Bits of 2011
After brunch, muddy mountain roads led us by chipping paint and old barns to the top of the world! Well, to the top of Pennsylvania? To the top of a mountain rather.
I used to play in an old red barn as a kid, and someday, I hope to refurbish an old barn into a home/studio space. For the 2012 cusp, I simply admired the old barn beam colors against the gray December skies.
We passed almost as many buggies as we did cars and trucks on the wet and winding road that day. Things were mostly just still and quiet.
We hit the vista as the last bits of light were fading, and the temperature was dropping, which made the promise of a fireplace, champagne and a home cooked meal all the more enticing.
The transition to dinner started with a little cheese spread to energize our cooking endeavor.
Might I suggest…
(clockwise from the top right corner)
Gjetost Norwegian Brown Cheese
Brilla Savarin Cave Aged (similar to brie with a little less stink)
Trois Petits Cochons Mousse de Foie de Canard au Porto
(decent, but nowhere near as good as freshly made…note to self: add pate to my kitchen To Do list)
Ossau Iraty Pyrenees Brebis
(a harder cheese- award winning according to the Whole Foods Connoisseur)
Whole Wheat Bread
(Unfortunately not made by me. I was too busy staring at barns all day)
Patient hands waited for my camera clicking fingers to snap a few photos before diving into the spread. That patience and understanding is only part of why I like him so much!
I recently read Le Voyage Créatif’s thoughtful and dreamlike post in which she returned to the cheese of her childhood, a brown Norwegian cheese I had yet to come across in my fromage journeys. I was quite surprised and excited to find a half wheel at the grocery store that provided our last provisions before entering the quieter countryside.
There’s something really hopeful in how the internet and a world of food lovers can inspire new associations and memories in readers and writers far, far away. Thanks to Le Voyage Créatif, I will now think of slivers of this mild and subtly caramely cheese against a backdrop of cold air, blue-tinted, mountain views, a warm fireplace, a new furry blanket, bubbling libations and a brand new year!
Dinner landed on the table just in time to curl up our fancy dress clothes underneath a warm blanket (bc even in a remote cabin, it’s fun to wear something fancy), watch Lady Gaga lead the ball drop effort on the big screen and toast some bubbly to 2012! As per the theme of the weekend, dinner was a tribute to our favorite historical elixirs- Art in the Age Root & Rhuby.
Art in the Age of a New Age
The Last Dinner of 2011 & The First Dinner of 2012
(see *recipes below)
“Rhuby Moyo” Cocktails
Roasted Salmon with Rhuby Apricot Mango Reduction
Roasted Root Vegetables
Not only were our champagne cocktails ushering in a brand new age, they were commemorating both a lasting friendship and a brand new friendship. Once upon a college time, I spent six unforgettable months in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I lived with four really special ladies from all over the world. One of those ladies, Rumbi Moyo became a best friend dear!
My beautiful friend Rumbi is wise beyond her years. She manages a challenging full time job, raises twin boys (no easy task!) and still manages to spend a night dancing every now and then. She’s a remarkable lady, and this little paragraph fails to do even the slightest justice to how I fortunate I feel to have her in my life (albeit it remotely).
On my first ever journey to London (more on that to come, I really do promise!), Rumbi treated Jono and me to seafood and champagne at St. Pancras station. It was a really lovely time and fulfilled another friend’s predictions for my life- the universe raining champagne and pearls upon me (my time is now, dear friends)! Can you imagine a better way of passing an afternoon than having two of your nearest and dearest meet at an old train station in London for champagne and seafood?!? I cannot!
Thus as we celebrated the grand adventures of 2011 and the hopeful 2012 horizons, Jono mixed what he called a “Rhuby Moyo” in honor of my dear friend. We anticipate more experimenting on this cocktail, but in the meantime, cheers to you, dear Rumbi! Come visit us soon, and we’ll add a third glass to the table!
The Rhuby Moyo
Simple Syrup (from demerara sugar)
Art in the Age Rhuby
Combine 1 jigger of Rhuby and 1/4 jigger simple syrup in a champagne glass. Fill with champagne, and top with 2-3 dashes of Peychaud bitters. Garnish with orange peel and toast to good friends and a brand new year!
As the NYE programming slowed, we switched to a the glamor of a past era via Sunset Boulevard. The champagne bubbled, the fire crackled, and the black and white film ran its dramatic course. With such a perfect start, 2012 must be bound for good things!
w/ Rhuby Apricot Mango Reduction
1 pound salmon, cut into 2 equal-sized fillets
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 shot Rhuby
5 oz organic apricot fruit spread
~2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
1 small orange, chopped
1 mango, chopped
Sea salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan over low heat, mix together the maple syrup, garlic, ginger and balsamic vinegar. Heat just until hot and remove from heat. Pour half of the mixture into a small bowl to use for basting, and reserve the rest for later.
Pat the salmon dry. Place skin-side down on the baking sheet. Brush the salmon with the maple syrup mixture.
Bake about 10 minutes, brush again with maple syrup mixture, and bake for another five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 2 Tablespoons of the balsamic sauce, Rhuby, apricot fruit spread, orange and half the mango.
Continue to baste and bake the fish until flakes easily, about 20 to 25 minutes total.
Cut the remaining half mango into chunks and mix into the apricot sauce.
Transfer the salmon fillets to plates. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and top with reserved maple syrup and the apricot sauce.
Roasted Root Vegetables
The Root flavor in this root vegetable mix is subtle, but it definitely added a little extra spice to the taste. Most diners would probably have a hard time guessing the source of the extra flavor. This was my first pass, but I’m eager for more experimenting, especially when the recipe entails a pun.
2-3 Tablespoons Organic, unsalted butter
1 parsnip, sliced
1 small sweet potato, sliced
4-5 carrots, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium beet, sliced
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup water
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup Root
For the Roasted Vegetables
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a large baking dish or skillet.
Remove from the oven, and add the sliced vegetables. Roast for 45-60 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, after about 30 minutes of roasting, combine the maple syrup and water in a saucepan over medium high heat until dissolved.
Add the balsamic vinegar and orange peel, and continue to stir.
Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer.
As the vegetables finish roasting, add the Root to the sauce, stirring to combine.
Remove from heat, and remove the orange peel.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir in the Root sauce.
Serve just in time for a brand new year!