I spent the majority of last week working from home due to the snow storm we were having. I managed to bake about 14 dozen cookies in the process and prep all my food for our first ever Sibling Christmas. My sister, her husband, and my brother were all supposed to come down on Christmas Day and join me, Shawn, and two of our friends for a casual Christmas together. Plans were changed for many in the area, though. I'll get back to that.
Christmas Eve, Shawn and I made plans to dine at Roux, the cajun-influenced restaurant about four blocks from our house. They were serving a special Christmas Eve menu, and since we had no plans that evening, we decided to treat ourselves. We've been to Roux a number of times since moving to the neighborhood and the food has never let us down. The atmosphere is upscale, but definitely not uptight. There's always something interesting on the ever-changing, seasonal menu, so I'm never bored. I do have one problem with it, though. Two times that we've been there, this last time included, we've felt very rushed through the meal. The first time, with my dad and his wife, we didn't have a reservation and I understand that can be a problem. However, the hostess chose to tell us, at 6pm, that we could have the table, but it was reserved for 7:30, so we need to hurry. OK, fine, I get it--but we were done well before 7:30 anyway. This last time, we did have a reservation for 6pm, but were told multiple times that there was a reservation on the table at 8pm. This bothered me. Here we are paying a lot of money for a relaxing Christmas Eve dinner and basically being told to hurry up and get out. From the server's point, I can see wanting to make sure that we're not lingering and just wasting space when other people are waiting (I've had that happen before and been the person waiting...very annoying!), but on the other hand, there were plenty of other free tables. If the reservation arrived a bit early, because the times we were told it was still well before 8pm, they could always seat them at a different table. Or they could wait for a couple minutes in the bar. There are alternatives. What bothers me most is that I've spent so many lines talking about this problem and not about the delicious food we had. The issue shouldn't overshadow the food, and unfortunately, it did. For those who are curious, we started with the pork rillettes and shared the butterleaf salad. I had the blackened quail over gumbo ya ya and herbed rice. Shawn chose the ham with whipped sweet potatoes and rosemary biscuits. We had a nice bottle of Dolcetto, and split the fallen chocolate souffle cake for dessert.
Christmas day turned out fine, despite the earlier assumption and my siblings wouldn't make it down. My brother wasn't able to, and I was sad, but very grateful that Gina and Richard made the journey. When it started snowing heavily early in the afternoon, I started to feel bad for making them come down, but luckily they made it safely. Also, since our friends' plans were changed, we were lucky to welcome Jason and Megan to our house as well!
I made another loaf of the no-knead bread, which was a hit. I also dipped into the genius of the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook for the appetizers. I made goat cheese spread, chicken satay with peanut sauce (which I'll be using with some spaghetti tonight to make noodles and veggies in peanut sauce), and deviled eggs. Gina made mac and cheese, which was overflowing with cheesy goodness (and yes, the mini penne worked just as well as the rigatoni Steve...). We had many bottles of alcohol of various kinds and just generally had a great time. It was relaxing and fun and different.
Hope everyone's holidays were just as fun and family/friend-filled as ours! Shawn got me the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book for Christmas, so many new recipes and breads to come!
Next up...New Year's at the Alibi. Otherwise known as the last night of smoking at the Tiki Bar!