I woke up feeling like garbage; the cold had migrated to me. Fortunately, I had gotten enough done ahead of time so that I was able to go back to sleep for three hours and felt much better. I got the smoker going, and put in four chickens. After an hour, the chickens repaired to a 200˚ oven while 5 slabs of well-rubbed spare ribs took their place on the grill. I kept the fire medium low, alternating between our apple and maple wood while I took care of the rest of the preparations.
Which were: three cabbages worth of slow-cooked sauerkraut (begun the day before, finished the day of) six huge turnips cubed and caramelized with a dash of vanilla to finish, ricotta gnocchi colored with beet juice to make them a nice girly pink, and a salad of baby greens and thinnings. Then Gerard showed up, bearing an ounce of Osetra caviar, a couple of dozen Long Island oysters, a trough of wasabi tobiko, and a big bowl of already foamy blini batter. He had given me the side of King Salmon a few days earlier to cure- I used salt, brown sugar, togarashi, fennel seeds, cinnamon, and lime zest, and it sat in the cure for two days- so it was firm and delicious and ready to slice.
He made the blini, them topped them with salmon, crème fraiche, caviar, and a chive. Then he shucked the oysters and gave them each a dollop of the wasabi tobiko. I knew he’d be bringing the blini and caviar, but the oysters were a surprise. An amazing display of generosity, plus he actually has a salmon slicer and knows how to use it. He also brought some insanely fresh black bass, and made what might have been the best ceviche I’ve ever had.
Then we put it all out; appetizers first, then everything else. John brought ramps and burdock from Richard and Susan’s garden; Susan made her incredible blue cornbread. Leanne made vegetable curry, and Liz made edamame dip (plus macaroons and a vegan lilikoi-lemon custard for dessert.) Madness ensued.
The birthday girl, plus Milo and his friend Madeleine, who stayed up WAY past their bedtimes.
It was a mighty meal. Sirkka made a wonderful 4-layer chocolate birthday cake. There was copious wine, which I won’t list but John brought most of it, including a Sine Qua Non grenache and good champagne. If it hadn’t been so cold and rainy, we could have done it out on the porch, but otherwise it was a perfect evening, and a fitting conclusion to the three day birthday.