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The leaves turn yellow, gold, and fall, yet there is a few weeks before the rake or boot when both gardens glow in early winter. The first rain, drifting music from downtown holiday parties. In the early mornings the scent of Scotty baking has a nutmeg and cinnamon edge. With this amped up appetite for an abundance of food and drink comes the ever present desire for joy we all hold within us, somehow easier to access and act upon in the run up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

It will be Chef Mark Hopper and Wine Director Chappy Cottrell’s first holiday season with us. They are already having a wonderful effect on our food and wine programs, as you can see for yourself from the photo album of the past week, below. Chappy organized the Billecart-Salmon dinner and he and Lukka have launched our new wine club. Meanwhile, in both kitchens, Chef Hopper is stealthily adding programs and fine tuning everything. All this new creative energy even has the bar team picking up it’s collective head with smashing winter cocktails.

A beginner’s glossary of herbs and wildflowers used medicinally, long before we celebrated Christmas. Many of them decorate the gallery this season.

A beginner’s glossary of herbs and wildflowers used medicinally, long before we celebrated Christmas. Many of them decorate the gallery this season.

Noggin’ is Terra’s elegant take on the Holiday classic.

Noggin’ is Terra’s elegant take on the Holiday classic.

The Christmas we know and love is but a few centuries old, while the floral and herbal scents we associate with the season, like Frankincense and Myrrh, were revered and traded as gold for millennia. The decorated Christmas tree is but a 17th century German invention, and we only began celebrating gift giving on the 25th (or evening of the 24th) during the Victorian era. But long before the birth of Christ this season was celebrated as humans turned to nature for remedy of physical and spiritual need during the long dark months of winter. Primitive small farm communities brought bows of fir and spruce indoors from the time civilization had doors. It’s lively, oily, greenly pungent scent was a visceral and often mind saving reminder that no matter how seemingly endless and gloomy, spring would come. So what must a ‘pagan’ Christmas have smelled like? K2 and I researched through a plethora of early Winter Solstice traditions; Dan foraged farm and forest and all the way down to Cloverdale, and…voila! Our love letter to the season will hang from the rafters until the first of the year. Don’t miss checking out the warm scents of Frankincense, Myrrh and ‘Gold,’ in the Somm’s Table trace boxes.

Holiday food and drink:

The Billecart-Salmon Dinner

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A generous tasting of Golden Russian Osetra, Siberian Sturgeon and Queen’s Reserve White Sturgeon, all from the  California Caviar Company . Served with Einkorn and Banana Bellinis, Latkes, Pizza Fritta, Avocado and Sour Cream. Paired with   Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blanc Brut en Magnum .

A generous tasting of Golden Russian Osetra, Siberian Sturgeon and Queen’s Reserve White Sturgeon, all from the California Caviar Company. Served with Einkorn and Banana Bellinis, Latkes, Pizza Fritta, Avocado and Sour Cream. Paired with Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blanc Brut en Magnum.

Truffle d’Alba …

Truffle d’Alba …

…Tagliatelle with Butter Parmesan, served with   Cuvée Nicholas François Brut 2002 en Magnum

…Tagliatelle with Butter Parmesan, served with Cuvée Nicholas François Brut 2002 en Magnum

A prelude to NYE, the gallery set for the Billecart-Salmon dinner.

A prelude to NYE, the gallery set for the Billecart-Salmon dinner.

Warm Vichyssoise w/ Cavier Crème Fraîche along with   Brut Sous Bois NV

Warm Vichyssoise w/ Cavier Crème Fraîche along with Brut Sous Bois NV

The evening featured   Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Sous Bois, ‘02 Cuvée Nicholas François, ‘99 Clos Saint-Hilaire, ‘07 Extra Brut, Demi Sec

The evening featured Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Sous Bois, ‘02 Cuvée Nicholas François, ‘99 Clos Saint-Hilaire, ‘07 Extra Brut, Demi Sec

It’s de rigueur to have fried chicken somewhere in a serious champagne dinner. Our own gallery bistro Poulet Frite was served on a warm puddle of Polenta with Honey Butter and a ‘bouquet’ of burnished Gold Tree Mushroom. Sublime with   2002 Cuvée Nicholas François.

It’s de rigueur to have fried chicken somewhere in a serious champagne dinner. Our own gallery bistro Poulet Frite was served on a warm puddle of Polenta with Honey Butter and a ‘bouquet’ of burnished Gold Tree Mushroom. Sublime with 2002 Cuvée Nicholas François.

Cheese Course: Chaource, Bûchette, Langres with toasted Brioche and BD Farm Apple Marmalade, with   2007 Extra Brut

Cheese Course: Chaource, Bûchette, Langres with toasted Brioche and BD Farm Apple Marmalade, with 2007 Extra Brut

Scott Noll’s ‘Mignardise’ of Brown Butter Financier, Valrhona Brownie, Coconut Macaroon with   Demi Sec

Scott Noll’s ‘Mignardise’ of Brown Butter Financier, Valrhona Brownie, Coconut Macaroon with Demi Sec

 Holiday Libations from Rojo, Terra, Andrew and Isabel

Winter Pimm’s

Winter Pimm’s

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The Deer Prom (aka The Good Dirty)

The Deer Prom (aka The Good Dirty)

The Hound

The Hound

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Cheers!

Food, drink, parties, & the wine club are all redeemable with a Barndiva gift certificate.

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