The best trick I know for creating great meals is to start with great ingrediants. Jan and I stayed home this year and busied ourselves in the kitchen.
First course was brussel sprouts with heavy cream and bleu cheese which is a recipe we call “How to Take a Vegetable that’s Basically Very Healthy and Make it… DELICIOUS!”
Our next course was smoked oysters, dried green beans and bottle of Bell’s Double Cream Stout. Smoked oysters are a family tradition in my family. I remember buying a tin of them when I was a child then being too freaked out by their color to eat any. My Irish gramma ate them with a grin and wink. The dried beans are a special treat, both crunchy and oddly sweet.
Main course was a plate of grilled scallops and fresh pasta tossed with a bit of olive oil, some dried oregano and some of those home smoked jalapeño flakes Jan made a couple months ago. The beverage for this course was a barrel-aged cherry stout. The vanilla notes from the bourbon barrel and the tartness of the cherries was a perfect complement to the sweet scallops and the peppery smoke of the pasta.
We have three more bottles of specialty stouts that I’ve kept in the cellar for a special occasion as well as an ice box sized watermelon and chestnuts to roast… but frankly, I can’t imagine eating much more until next year.