Valentine dinner -02/16/4/2019

 I never enjoyed going out on Valentine day as restaurants are crowded and service is pretty lousy.  This year, I invited our friend to a nice sit down dinner so we can share the love and have a few laughs.  It is always fun to have a group that enjoy good food and good wine.

Table is set up for 14 people.


I usually filled up the table with lots of decoration but this year I am leaving some space in between as I am preparing a 10 course meal and I needed room on the table to bring out the dishes as most of dishes will be served family style.

I spend a lot of time putting the menu together as I have to coordinate so that each dish has a cadence and flow to the next course.


Center piece with a few red roses to make it pop.


Individual platting-I made name tags so everyone have to look for their name.


My friends usually look at the menu before we sit down so this time I put the menu in an envelope so they cannot see it until everyone is sitting down.


View of the menu for this evening.


From left to right: Loan, Alice, Maily, Huyen, Ha, Annie, and Hang

Red and black outfit - perfect for celebrating Valentine!

From left to right: Minh, Tuan, Phuc, Mark, Trung, Hoa, and Tuan


Red wine and sake from each couple. Phuc also brought 2 bottles of Kistler but they are chilling in the fridge and we forgot to take a picture.

I also served Bahama mama and Cosmo cocktail but again forgot to take pictures.


While our guests are enjoying their cocktail I am reheating and finishing the cooking for the first course.


Platting the dishes..


Picture with Alice and Mark so that we can send them to Kevin and Kristie in Albany so they can see what we are doing tonight.

Mark and Alice selected the Otokoyama sake for us tonight
Described as: Velvety, Balanced, Elegant, & Supreme-more details here

Mark pouring sake for the group.


We asked everyone to sit down so that we can serve the Amuse bouche -Cheers!

Cheers again...

1st course- Trio of Amuse bouche

First amuse bouche: Oeufs pochés Carême- Poached egg with smoked salmon and heart of artichoke.

This dish is for 2 people.  Portion are small as I want everyone to be able to enjoy all 10 courses.

This is a classic French dish that was created by chef Marie Antoine Carême to serve Napoleon and the French royal family in the early 1800.


2nd amuse bouche (left) potato blini with roasted sweet peppers & eggplant caviar

3rd amuse bouche (right): Mochi wrapped in bacon and nori sheet.


Mochi wrapped in bacon and nori sheet was an inspiration after dinning at Iyasare in Berkeley.

The mochi is very flavorful almost to the point that when you eat the blini the taste was muted in comparison.  I should have told everyone to eat the blini first to built up the flavors but in any case it was still delicious. 


2nd course: Snapper ceviche with cucumber water served with vegetable chips.

Paired with Kistler from Phuc/Huyen (forgot to take picture of the wine)


3rd course: Shroomwhich


Shoomwhich is basically mushroom soup served with a mushroom sandwich.

This dish might look simple but don't let it fool you as the soup is very time consuming to make.

You can take a look at how the soup is prepared except I did not use any truffle this time- click on LINK to see preparation


4th course: Pan seared foie gras with a balsamic reduction sauce served with a homemade pear and saffron chutney.


Can't go wrong with Foie gras!  Such a treat to eat foie gras and every time it is still an unbelievable dish.


Foie Gras was paired with a 2001  Chateau Guiraud 1er Cru Sauternes, courtesy of Phuc/Huyen

The day that Phuc/Huyen ran out of Sauternes I will stop serving foie gras.  Foie gras with Sauternes is a MUST.

Everyone has a glass of sauternes and then I saw like 1/3 was still left in the bottle, I got busy in the kitchen and the next time I sat down all the Sauternes was gone...

What is going on... my glass was also empty and I did not drink the whole thing! Who stole my sauternes?.. LOL!


5th course: Pan seared wasabi pea crusted salmon served with sautéed brocolini.

Each portion is for 4 people-again small portion as we are about half way done with the menu.

Salmon is a popular fish but cooking can be challenging as people usually overcooked it.  Here the salmon is coated with a layer of crunchy wasabi peas. I spread a layer of Dijon mustard to help adhere the pea crumbs and it also add an extra layer of intensity and texture to the salmon.  Salmon was cooked in medium heat so that the center is still on the raw side.


6th course: homemade cavatelli, onion soubisse sauce, roasted tomatoes, sautéed green beans and shrimps.


Homemade cavetelli is really a treat but it is a lot of work to make but the taste is all worth the effort.

I was planning to serve it with clams and shrimps but I went to 2 places and they did not have clams so I am serving it with shrimps only.


7th course: Pan seared sous vide boneless thick pork chops

I just bought a sous vide machine a few months ago and this is the first time I use it.  It took 2 hours to brine the pork chops, 4 hours in the sous vide machine at 140 degrees.  All I need to do is just to pan seared the meat before serving it.

The pork turned out to be moist and really delicious.  Love the sous vide machine.


8th course: Potato stew, smoked sous vide pork belly, olives, king mushrooms & pearl onions.

This dish was really delectable.  The smoked pork belly gave a nice flavor to the dish and all the other flavors melted together creating a nice winter comfort dish.

Recipe from Michel Richard, a really great French chef.  Most of his recipes are really flavorful.


9th: Orange/Kumquat butter cake served with crème Anglaise (left)

10th course: Donuts, peanut butter sauce, roasted honey nuts

Donuts are always delicious so it is a no brainer to put it on the menu, the orange/kumquats butter cake are also delicious, moist and rich. Click on LINK to see preparation

Ending the meal with coffee and tea.


Everyone had a really good time and the food turned out as I expected to be.  I also managed to serve the portions correctly as most of everyone was able to go through the entire menu.  Nobody went home hungry that's for sure.

Until the next meal!

Happy Valentine day!

 Filed under: Dinner Parties




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