I find interesting ways of kicking things off every now and then.. Take the last day of 2008, for example, which I kicked off working over time at GLS, having taken a shift on the 3oth which after some confusion, a few delays and a 8 kilometer walk ended up landing me home at shortly past 3 AM on the morning of the 31st of December.
Not being one to adhere to your usual sleeping patterns, I didn’t think twice about grabbing a snack and a beer and winding away a few more of the wee hours before going to bed at around 5 AM and catching a few hours of shut-eye. Getting up later that morning, I gathered myself, my stuff, a few vital sauce ingredients, blasted some 80’s glam metal and headed down to Jakob’s for one of the more interesting cooking adventures I’d ever been involved in. Essentially, I knew that I was gonna be involved in cooking dinner for somewhere between 10 and 12 people and that it was somehow gonna involve potatoes and root vegetables. And a piece of meat of unknown size, shape and texture which had only the night before been identified as prime rib but had yet to be seen or handled by anybody involved.. Interesting!
Now, I’m all in favor of culinary challenges, but cooking new years eve dinner for 10+ people, I like to be just a little on top of things.. And this didn’t constitute my ideal view of being on top of things.. But none the less, off I went, and down at Jakob’s I arrived. I was met there by Tina, Kristoffer, Jakob’s roomie Bodil and Jakob himself who was casually strolling around at 2 PM, wearing a bath robe, a smile and (within minutes) a glass of red wine.. A look which he actually upheld up until around 6 PM and which I later (much to Tina’s dismay) perfected by adding a cigar I’d obtained through secret sources.
We spent some time joking around, hanging out and slowly but surely get dinner planned out which actually helped me relax considerably especially when, finally, the roast arrived at around 3:30 and I got to have a look at it, with fingers and all. I could now finally lay down a battle plan for my part of the preparations which included prepping, searing and roasting the huge hunk of cow and building a sauce. Having sketched out this battle plan, I allowed myself to finally relax a bit, poured myself a glass of wine and joined the others in toasting and being merry.. After which I panicked, dashed out the door and ran home to pick up the rather crucial cooking thermometer I’d forgotten.. And the beers for later.. That I’d forgotten as well.
I made it back to Jakob’s in time to get the roast out of the fridge, seasoned, trimmed and then allowed to rest at room temperature for even cooking before I had to dash back out the door, down the stairs and out to pick up Zascha who had never been at Jakob’s new place before and thus was standing around outside, looking tired, lost, cold and miserable.. But not having slept, having just had a tooth pulled and being prone to freezing, I can’t say I blame her, so I rushed her back inside, fixed her up with a glass of wine and we spent some time chatting before I put the spurs to the roast and got things underway.
Doing the roast and the sauce actually turned out easier than I’d expected and, my timing (surprisingly) being spot on, I even managed to change into my suit, newly ironed shirt ( thanks Tina!), cuff links (thanks Zascha!) and silk tie (thanks again, Tina!) a full hour before the guests arrived.. In fact, I guess I’ll even have to admit that it was actually one of the least stressful major dinner parties I’d done in a while what with the boys cutting veggies, Jakob mixing drinks, Bodil doing the salad, me keeping an eye on the thermometer with one eye, stirring the sauce with one hand while talking and sipping white wine with Zascha with the other hand and/or eye.. Good times!
At 7 PM sharp, the guests arrived. 12 people total. And phase two executed beautifully. Jakob served drinks, Bodil put out trays of hors d’oeuvres, I pulled the roast from the oven, finished the sauce (French style, meat juices and pleeeenty of butter) and rested the roast while Bodil and I grilled the potatoes and veggies in batches following an assembly line procedure that would’ve made Henry Ford himself blush. The guests were then seated, fingers were cut into, the roast was cut and everything was served.. Game on!
And I’m proud to say that things went pretty well, only a couple of things went slightly askew. Firstly, the roast hadn’t been aligned perfectly in the oven so the top part of the meat was a little too well done, but generally it was nice and pink. Secondly, despite having taken good care in trying to produce enough sauce, so despite having sacrificed a bottle of wine, a cup of cream, a pint of ox-tail soup and another pint of accumulated meat juices on the effort, it barely made it around the table.. But really, who’d have thunk?! The last and final bad decision of the evening was to place Zascha and I next to one another.. At least according to some who wasn’t used to the endless bitching and bickering resulting in several show-downs and even a couple of cases of aggravated assault and head locks.. But that’s just how we roll. Other than that, things were just great and good times, good wine and good eats were had by all.. At least I’d like to think so, judging by the comments that we received.
After dinner, Jakob, Tommy and Kristoffer cleared the table and sporadic outbursts of conversation, binge drinking and playing with confetti and things that go pop in the night ensued. Pictures were taken, laughs were had, silver stars were glued onto faces, cleavages and a struggling Johan who eventually had to make his way out of things by bellowing “UNHAND ME NOW, WOMEN, OR I’M NEVER COOKING FOR YOU AGAIN!”
Eventually post-dinner guests started showing up and the party split into two groups consisting mainly of a bunch of girls yapping about Lord knows and a bunch of guys sitting around quietly, drinking beer and watching James Bond. Things mixed a little as Tina and Zascha joined our group, not only brightening up the company, but also forcing us into some drinking games and what have you (of which I wanted no part), having bad experiences from the years before. Eventually, the clock started approaching midnight. Dinner For One rolled across the television screen as everybody started preparing their champagne or other kinds of bubbly wine.
Midnight rolled by with a roar, literally, as everybody celebrated in their own little way making for a very confusing second as Zascha and I went into the new year with one arm around each other and a glass of genuine champagne clinking together in the other, as Tina came flying off a chair next to us in a tradition that I didn’t quite understand, Jakob blinked wearily, Einar bellowed something that no one understood while others decided between either kissing, screaming or just jumping around frantically in the couches.. And then we were off to watch the fireworks!
Fireworks in Denmark, to those who have never experienced it, is a pretty overwhelming ordeal. Unlike other countries where fireworks are a pretty well-organized ordeal arranged for the public. Fireworks in Denmark, and other countries, are for the people by the people.. Which makes for an interesting sight – and perfect example of Danish irresponsibility – at midnight when everybody starts running around more or less intoxicated and firing things into the air.. It’s a fascinating sight which was enjoyed by all, and by some more than others. While most had enough after about ten minutes in the cold, Tina and I ended up standing about (and walking about – it was freezing cold) for most of an hour, enjoying the sight, the mood of things and getting ever so slightly mushy in our semi-intoxicated state.. Good fucking times!
After things eventually got too cold, even for us, we eventually made our way back inside and I made a pitstop in the hallway to call my dad and wish him happy new year which took me all of twenty minutes or so because he demanded to know all about my cooking adventures earlier that evening and even paused to voice his approval of my efforts, stating that he could’ve probably not pulled it off giving the circumstances.. Which made me feel a lot better about having been so worried seeing as my dad is an awesome cook.
Finally back inside, I sat down to talk with Einar and Zascha for a bit as well as whoever else showed up and wanted to say hi, have a talk or just wish a happy new year. Eventually at around 2 AM, Zascha’s lack of sleep got to her and having promised her, her mom and myself that I’d see her home safely if needed be, I ended up walking her back to my place before making the completely ridiculous decision to return to the party.. Which I did at shortly past 3 AM.. And probably had a lot of fun afterwards. I remember Tina rushing up, tugging at my sleeve and yell “come see!!” only to follow her to find Jakob staggering around his room with blindfolded by his own tie, lashing out karate chops and side kicks.. I also remember Einar busting over about ten martini glasses before deciding it was time for a work-out, grabbing Jakob’s barbells and starting to do presses.. Oh, and I met a guy with a rubber chicken on his head who apparently knew my landlord Brian which I took as an excuse to serve him a shot from the bottle of Absinth that I’d somehow gotten a hold of.. Actually, I think there may have been more than one shot of Absinth coz the floor got one as well, I think, and I most certainly don’t remember getting home.. But I do remember waking up the next morning at 10 AM, feeling none too bright, staggering into the living room and collapsing on the couch next to Zascha, complaining incoherently until she had to leave and barely regaining consciousness as she did. Then passing out and waking up again at 3 PM.. At which point I started watching some series in a semi-awaken state until 9 PM when I got up cooked dinner/breakfast/whatever and then fell asleep again.. Woke at 10, spent the night until 4 AM watching series and sleeping before dragging myself back to bed and sleeping till noon the next day.. Good show!