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Feb 2, 2005 11:38 PM

Desperately Seeking... a Birthday Menu in Unusual Circumstances.

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So, here's the deal. I am taking my wife away for a night to celebrate her birthday. We are staying in a hotel with it's own kitchen and I am endeavouring to cook dinner for her rather than going out.

So, the parameters include the following. She loves foie gras. Fresh foie gras. That'll be one dish, seared on brioche with some kind of sauce. Other than that, I have no idea. I want a menu that compliments and melds with foie gras but at the same time, it must be remembered, i will be in a strange (and likely pretty lame) kitchen so it would be a great to boon to either bring prepared food that I can reheat and/or finish easily or simple dishes that nonetheless have the ability to transcend. I am happy to bring along ingredients and pots, pans, salts, etc. Furthermore, I would embrace any wine suggestions along with recommended dishes.

Thanks for any and all ideas.

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  1. How sweet of you to treat your wife. I did something similar for my husband two Valentine's ago (albeit we stayed home) I digress, I like reductions of preserves with foie gras if I'm in a hurry but something smooth not with seeds like black current/strawberry - but there's also poached/baked pears or apples that complement well - and you might be able to do those ahead of time and pack them along. Consider a really nice sauternes with the foie gras as a first course, you can get a half bottle and then change your wine to accompany the main course. It might be too heavy (depending on preparation) but consider duck for the main course - a simple sear on the stove and a roast in the oven which won't require alot of special equipment...

    1. That's a lovely idea! However, I wonder if you really need to prepare the entire meal, given that you'll be in an unfamiliar kitchen, with limited tools, etc. Have you considered just preparing the foie gras appetizer, along with good champagne (and maybe some caviar, too). I know it feels special when my husband cooks, but there's always the messed up kitchen and dishes to deal with afterward. If there's a really good restaurant anywhere nearby, you could go there after your homemade starter and then go back to the hotel for dessert (which you could bring with you) and after-dinner drinks.

      Just trying to save you a lot of stress...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Deenso

        All three are good ideas but I really second this one. Starters and dessert at the hotel adn dinner out.

        The new March Bon Appetit has an article about Breaking the Rules with food and wine parings by Master Sommelier
        Andrea Immer Robinson. She suggests that you pair seared foie gras with Pinot Noir sha says " Pinot Noir is the way to go...the wine's acidity cuts through the fat of the foie gras, while it's deep fruit-flavor showcases the foie's meaty and gamy flavors in the same way that berry sauces and fruit-spiked stuffings compliment duck and game. Pinot's signature silky body mirrors the decadent texture in the foie gras. It is a real"wow" match".

        You might want to get the magazine if you do not subscribe. It is a interesting article.

      2. What about . . . .

        I won't add to the foie gras dish in any way.

        One thing you may want to do is make small portions for each course. You can always order room service at midnight if the tummy requests.

        Second course could be a salad of fresh baby spinach (and or petite wild greens), with a combo of shallots and fennel sauted with a few herbs de provence and wild mushrooms. Make a "moat" of the baby spinach/fresh greens and put the sauteed mix in the middle of it.

        Third course, salmon on a bed of yams with bits of sauteed onion and red pepper. (one technique is to bake the yams, use a melon baller to make some yam balls, them mash and cream the rest of the yams. Saute the onions and red pepper, add to mash, then add the yam balls and stir gently. Spices here are to your taste, but can go from savory or Asian (hint of 5-spice?) or simple salt and white pepper.

        Veggie - simple sauteed green beans (haricort verts)

        Fourth course, plate of cheese and fruit and water crackers. Cheese: a few mini Babybels (edam) (still in the red wax-one broken open), a bleu, and a Swiss ementhal, or ?.
        Fruit: one or more of: pear, fig, strawberry or ?
        Condiment: puree paste of jalapeno and kiwi and corn syrup.

        Fifth, dessert. Hey, Chowhound galleygirl's pear tart has noted success and can be made (very simple recipe) the day ahead.

        Am not a wine expert, but suggest a spicy sweet port as an appertif.

        Or, if you're wanting to stay up, how about hot Earl Grey tea with a shot of Drambuie!

        1. May I humbly suggest that you contact the front desk or general manager of the hotel and politely request a full list of the cooking utensils, tools etc. that are reportedly stocked in your kitchen. Every year, my husband and I vacation at a hotel suite with a "fully stocked" kitchen. In their venacular that means that there are two corelle plates, two glass tumblers, a few pieces of mismatched flatware, and a non stick pan that has all of the non stick coating peeled off.
          Better be safe than sorry!