Having spent most of the 29th and the 30th cooking for our grand New Year’s Dinner, I allowed myself to sleep in on the last day of the year.. Well, as much as I possibly could anyways. I still had some final preparations and packing to do as well as some getting myself ready for the big day.. And I had some prep and cooking to do on the 31th itself.. In a town far, far away.. Namely in the small frontier town of Gråsten down south near the border somewhere here our friends (and host couple for the evening) Louise and Carsten live.
To get down there, we had enlisted the help of my prodigal baby sister Zascha who had offered to pack the entire gang as well as our luggage, the food, a few plastic sleds (?) and an impressive array of fireworks (??) into her parents’ car and chauffeur us all safely down south. She, along with Emelie, picked me up at around 1 PM and then drove on to pick up Tina and Jeppe along with above mentioned array of fireworks and plastic sleds.. Which created a bit of a logistic nightmare because along with the 30 odd pounds of food, Emelie’s entire suitcase of possible New Years outfits, the other luggage and five people.. Well, long story short, it was a bit of a tight fit.. In the trunk as well as on the back seat, but we managed and had an altogether pleasant ride down there involving laughing, talking, pointing and many a small scale argument between Tina and I, most of which ended in a “just shut the fuck up, will you?”, Zascha poking Emelie and going “were him and I just like that back in the old days?” and Emelie going “slightly worse, actually..” – AH, the memories.. But I digress!
We arrived at Louise and Carsten’s at around 2:30 PM and quickly began carrying the food, luggage, clothes, fireworks and what the fuck have you in from the car. “It’s okay,” I told a horrified Louise watching the scene, “we’re planning a weekend trip to Northern France later, it’s not like this is all just for today!” – I then rushed by her, claiming ownership of the kitchen and half of the fridge for the remainder of the day. Which is to say that I shoved lord knows how many aluminum and plastic trays of food into the fridge, took a beer out in return, opened the beer, took a sip and then turned my attention to the important things in life.. The 5 pounds of prime rib I had meticulously dry aged in my home fridge over the previous four days. They had spend the trip down coming more or less to room temperature, so all I was now left with was to season them and be damn happy with the result..
I then, much to the bemusement of those in our tightly knit little group who had never heard of slow roasting, took out a huge pan and seared the meat thoroughly before popping it in the oven at 55C and leaving it there for.. oh.. a good four hours or so.. While I mingled, played video games, drank beer, teased the girls, and other fun stuff..
Come late afternoon, I set out to finish the sauce which had gelatinized ever so slightly overnight as well as to heat all remaining parts of the meal and season them properly. I then spent a full three minutes or so changing into something less comfortable and was ready to join the others for the official celebration kick-off at 6 PM. During which we toasted and watched the queens traditional (and frightfully boring) New Year’s Address.
And theeeeen: SHOWTIME! Dinner was a bit of a blur, to be honest, considering the whole thing had taken two days to prepare, it was a little surreal that it all went down in about two hours, but again, it’s was really just a testament to how much people loved my food and I can’t think of a much greater compliment than that.. I was well proud of myself! And hardly even stressed out this time around which is very new for me in situations where a lot of cooking for a lot of people is involved. Okay, so Zascha will probably tell you that I did stress slightly as I was plating the starters, but then, Zascha is crazy and you shouldn’t believe her.. Okay, well, so I was, for all of ten seconds and of course it’s during those ten seconds that Zascha choses to look at me and recognized my slightly shaky movements which she even after all these years abroad recognize as a stress symptom.. Which is really kinda cute, and another testament to the fact that my girls know me too damn well.. But aside from that, no stress, no worries, no problems, just a well-timed, well-received and well cream-laden meal which received much praise from the eaters.
Our friend Ronnie commented that the puff pastry starters were as good – if not better – than the ones his mother makes, which in this part of the world is a huge compliment.
Jeppe, on the other hand, nearly wept with joy when he saw how the prime rib had turned out..
.. Then took it upon himself to eat a good healthy five or six slices, even going so far as to growl at people when they tried to remove his plate.
All in all, it was a pretty decadent, tasty experience and I ended up beaming with pride and joy over the many compliments received and the fact that I had, for the first time ever, produced an absolutely perfect roast.. I mean, really.
Even the dessert, unorthodox as it was, was a big hit with everyone.. Besides maybe Zascha who didn’t much care for licorice (I’m sorry, baby, I’ve made a note for future reference). I’d been afraid it was a little too weird or over the top for most people, but after all had had their share and most had gone back for second, even third servings, I guess I was about ready to call it a success as well
And then, almost as quickly as it had all begun, it was over. Two days of work had been consumed in two hours.. And all that was left was the clean up (and some five pounds of potatoes). You’d think it’d be a sad kinda feeling to have all the work ravaged so quickly by hungry hordes, but no.. Not really.. I live to please and to have everyone dig in so enthusiastically (dare I say greedily) well, damnit, it felt good. For the first time ever, I actually felt like what some people have accused me of being for a long time: A dedicated kinda guy who produces restaurant quality meals in the comfort of my own home.
After it all was over, our hosts took me aback and surprised me with a small present for all my hard work
Emelie was sweet enough to take a few pictures of the unwrapping process, including this once which apparently shows my reaction to being surprised with quality beers.. Yay beer!
With the funny, surprised faces out of the way, all that was really left to do was to clear the table and wait for the night to set in and the party to start.. But that’s another story, involving many laughs and activities, both high tech new ones such as Sing Star and Danish party classics such as Cleavage Target Practice..
More to follow…