Ian Blackburn and his brother, Bob, have hosted the Night Before Thanksgiving dinners for 13 years. This year, with Ian getting ready to leave for New Zealand on turkey day, they chose a brand new restaurant, Mo-Chica, to entertain around 45 of their closest or newest friends. JD and I assisted Ian with setting up, and the staff at Mo-Chica took care of the rest.
The guests arrived between 7 and 8, each carrying a bottle of wine to share. There were 4 bottles of various whites - a dry Riesling from Tasmania, a sweet Riesling from Germany, a lovely Champagne from France, and another - no idea what it was. Everyone else brought reds. Cabernets, Merlots, Syrahs, Grenaches, blends of every sort; a couple of lovely Rhone blends, a lot of terrific California wines. No plonk at all!
Dinner was an interesting and eclectic blend. Peruvian food seems to be somewhere in between Spanish and Asian, and this was a good example. I think. What the heck do I know about Peruvian food??
Course 1 - Purple cauliflower soup. Seemed more like a squash soup. Delicious and creamy. I could have been happy with that! But there was more.
Course 2 - Causa - Sundried tomatoes and avocado mousse, with a slightly spicy olive aioli sauce. Well, the menu said avocado mousse, but we all thought it was creamed potatoes. Whatever it was, it was delicious! The aioli sauce was slightly spicy, but the dish was very well-balanced in its flavors.
Course 3 - Ceviche with scallops and caviar. Didn't like this one so much. There was no caviar that I was aware of, and there was SO much citrus - lemon/lime? - that it overpowered the scallops. There was a garnish of corn, kind of grits-like, which helped deal with the over-citrusy flavors, but I didn't finish it, and even Ian complained that this wasn't what he remembered.
Course 4 - Black cod with quinoa and pumpkin puree, accompanied by a roasted tomato. Yummy.
Course 5 - Pork belly with barley huancaina risotto. The pork was tasty, but there was so much fat, it was hard to find the meat.
Course 6 - Carob flan. You either liked it on not. I liked it a LOT. Who knew carob paired so well with Syrah?
After dinner, Ian turned up the music and danced. We fled to the mercado where Mo-Chica is actually located, and waited for either Ian to tire or security to throw us out. Which is what actually happened. Folks said their goodnights and left, and we cleaned up the glasses and wine stuff and got out of there.
We met back at Ian's loft, chatted for a bit and went our separate ways. In bed by 2 a.m., much later than we anticipated. Slept until 12:30 in the afternoon!
We had already decided that we were going to Bistro Provence for dinner on Thanksgiving. Got there at 6 p.m. with our bottle of 2003 Twomey Merlot in hand, and settled in for another amazing meal.
First Course - Butternut squash soup, apples, crème fraiche. Oh. My. God.
Second Course choice of various lovely dished. I chose the jumbo asparagus and brie tart, wild mushrooms, truffle vinaigrette, and JD went for the crispy pumpkin gnocchi with pearl onions, lardoons, spinach, sage. We were both happy with our choices.
Main Course choice of various dishes - traditional turkey dinner, rib eye steak, ham, salmon. We both chose the Grilled Rib Eye served with garlic mashed potatoes, rapinni, red wine jus. Huge steaks, perfectly cooked. We both took home half of our main course.
Dessert turned out to be a combination of apple tart with caramel sauce and cinnamon Chantilly cream and pumpkin pie.
By the time we were finished - 2 hours later - I couldn't breathe. So much wonderful food! Friendly service, warm and comfy environs. We really like Bistro Provence. An excellent choice - one for which we were very thankful!
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!