Le Delizie Gastronomici Della Festa

I hope that Yahoo! Babel Fish translated "Holiday Gastronomic Delights" correctly to Italian for the title of this post. Update: old title "Piaceri Gastronomici Di Festa" amended and improved to the present "le delizie gastronomica della festa" thanks to the multi-talented, multi-lingual, and lovely Olivia.

For the second year in a row, K and I had Christmas Dinner at Wordsworth, our favorite restaurant which specializes in seafood and pasta. They've been in business for eleven years and we hope will be around a lot more. We almost missed it as we had forgotten to make a reservation. K was shy to ask at the last minute, but as we ate lunch there a few days ago, I urged her to inquire anyway. As it happened there was an opening for an early seating (6:30) which suited us fine. As the song goes, "I get too hungry for dinner at eight"...

Anyway, this year I remembered to bring my camera. Although we had a list of what each course would be, we weren't sure what all the terms (Italian food translated into Japanese) meant, so each was a mystery until it arrived. A couple of notes here (Bb and F natural)... I do eat seafood, but not beef, pork or chicken. However, on an occasion such as this, especially with a set menu, I have been known to bend break the rules. Second, the first pictures were taken with the flash, later, as more people arrived, I did not want to disturb the people around us by using the flash. So, the later pictures are darker, colors are a bit off, and K's hands look like they have soot on them. Sorry about that.

The set menu, ordered upon making a reservation, offered a choice of either beef or some kind of "prawn" (K wasn't sure of the translation) for the main course. We opted for the latter and were to be very pleasantly surprised.

Bread was served first along with our drinks. K had "ume juice" made from Japanese plums, and I had ginger ale. The first plate, an "Amusement" was Bagna Calda, pronounced "banya cowda," a hot dip composed of olive oil, garlic and anchovy, along with raw vegetables to be dipped into it. It originated in the hills north of Turin, Italy. Bagna calda means "hot bath." The dip is brought to the table boiling. Vegetables included cabbage, red bell pepper, radishes, taro, onion, and cucumber. A chef came out from the kitchen to take our picture.

(click image to see a larger version)

Next was "Appetizer 1" - Fruit tomatoes with Parma ham and mozzarella cheese. Parma ham is a type of dry-cured ham from the Parma region of Italy. It is uncooked. You can read all about Parma ham here: What is Parma ham?

Parma ham on tomato and mozzarella cheese

Appetizer 2 was Carpaccio with bluefin (mercury alert) tuna. Originally made with thin slices of raw beef, Carpaccio was invented at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy, and was named for the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio who was noted for his use of red in his paintings. Ours was served with slices of garlic, greens, and thinly sliced hard cheese.

Bluefin Carpaccio

Soup was served next - a Japanese mushroom soup covered with pastry crust.

Then it was time for the main dish. Surprise - not prawns, but baked stuffed Homard lobster. Homard lobster has very large claws and the carapace is less thorny than its cousins. We'd each had Maine lobster tails and lobster thermidore before, but not Homard lobster. The large amount of meat in the claws was surprising and it was the tastiest part as well. It is hard for me to believe, but in the 17th and 18th century,
lobster was so common in the northeastern seaboard of the US, that it was considered "poor people's food" and offered to orphans and widows, and fed to prisoners!

After we had teased the last morsel out of our lobsters and sat back feeling quite satisfied, came a pasta dish - angel hair pasta with cabbage, in a peperoncino and anchovy sauce.

Room for desert? Of course!

How about sweet potato, roasted apple and vanilla ice cream?

We finished off the evening with biscotti, a couple of bites of gateau au chocolat, and coffee.

I wonder what they'll serve next year?

Whatever traditions you follow this time of year, we hope you enjoy them to the fullest and have happy, healthy, safe holidays and new year.


Olivia said...

Ahhh, what an awesome little spread.

I love prosciutto di Parma, in fact it's the only ham I care to eat now.

I also love beef carpaccio and it goes really well with rocket/roquette/arugula leaves.

Re: the lobster. Also hard to imagine that until the mid-20th century, oysters were poor man's food in the British Isles.

At least you had manageable portions, and Italians do love their multiple courses. One Christmas in Italy we had a 9 course lunch that lasted all afternoon. It felt like the town was clearing out the local grocery on us. Many of the English guests went up to their rooms halfway through, but my mother and I stayed to the bitter end (coffee and nuts) - even limiting the amount we consumed throughout, we ran out of room. And then I was ill, but that's because I mistakenly ate some of the mussels in the seafood salad early on.

❤ IceGlacial™ ❤ said...

For some weird reason, the only word that comes up in my head is..


Now i'm hungry, and geez i just had my lunch!

Never had a chance to taste food like those in my life yet, hope i would next time :รพ


Olivia said...

P.S. For this form of delight, you are probably better off using "le delizie gastronomica della festa"

I think, my Italian not being as strong as my French.

PinkPanther said...

How warm and delicious X’mas dinner for you and K.
There’re 8 courses in a set dinner? I think too much to me. {Soup, Lobster, Mushroom and desert are enough for me.} ;-p
Merry X’mas !
Aw,,you lost Momo the Wonder Dog????? How’s her X’mas meal?

Pandabonium said...

Olivia - thank you for the input on the title. I appreciate the portions of most Japanese restaurants. I'd hate to pay for a meal that couldn't finish. Then again, I've never had the opportunity to dine in Italy.

IceGlacial - I'm sure you have experienced foods in Malaysia that we would enjoy trying. Actually, many of these items were a first for us and we're lucky to have such a restaurant out here in the "sticks".

PinkPanther - Normally I would agree, but once a year I'll like trying all the courses. Besides, they aren't too big and we took out time (2 hours) to enjoy them.

Momo had her usual and retired to her insulated, heated, doggy house for a warm and cozy nap. Santa brought her a new bathtub and she got to use it, so she was all clean and fluffy on Christmas Day.

Olivia said...

Oh, my gosh, you actually used the new title. *blush*

Don Snabulus said...

Yummity yum yum. They all looked tasty and attractively prepared. Every so often it is nice to have a meal that just leaves you floating.

K and S said...

everything looks delicious, Merry Christmas and may 2009 be a good year for the both of you.

Pandabonium said...

Olivia - Of course.

Snabby - hope you guys are staying warm. Food is one of those fundamentals that can make one's day.

K and S - Thanks and our best wishes for you as well.

nzm said...

I wondered if you would head back to Wordsworth this year, and it looks like it again didn't disappoint.

That lobster looks fantastic, as does everything else.

Season's Greetings! Hope you got my ecard.

Pandabonium said...

NZM -got your greeting, thank you so much. Hope you guys are staying warm there in Germany. Season's Greetings.

Swinebread said...

Happy Holidays to you and yours Pandabonium...
(although a tad late sorry)

what a gorgeous looking meal...

I can only imagine what it tasted like!

Also, thanks for your comment about my friend Josh

I'm sorry you lost someone too.


The Moody Minstrel said...

Wow, what a spread!

How come my dinners at Wordsworth have never looked like that? ;-)

Well, thanks for giving me a wonderful idea for this holiday season!

Hmm...my word verification is "prepi". Is that Italian for "preppy"?

Pandabonium said...

Swinebread - thanks. I miss him a lot.

Moody - bon appetit. Prepi? - anagram of "piper". That would be you. :-)

ladybug said...

That whole dinner sounds absolutely wonderful!...and I also love Parma Ham!

It is hard for me to believe, but in the 17th and 18th century,
lobster was so common in the northeastern seaboard of the US

Yes, I think you are right as I remember hearing they fed lobster & crabs to their farm animals [i.e. their pigs, goats, etc.]....but that it was more due to cultural factors - basically thinking of non-fish sea creatures as disgusting...perhaps the arrival of Italian/French/Spanish immigrants with a cuisine based on Fruit de Mer/Frutti de Mare changed that aspect?

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

What an unusual Christmas dinner! I do like eating lobster - when you see the Fiji guys haul them up and a few hours later they are on the table. But here in Oz, the cost is just awesome so we never buy lobster. We are still having parties, invites to friends' places nearly every day so I'm as fat as mud and Peceli has a Kava pot!

Robin said...

The year 2008 is gone but it makes us strong.
The path was long, but we walked with a song.
There were fears and tears but we had reasons for cheers.
Wishing u happy memories of 2008and a healthy and blissful new year.

With Gratitude and Loving Kindness,

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug - according to a wikipedia article, it was the development of transport in the mid 19th century, enabling lobsters to be shipped from ports to urban centers, that made it a popular food. I guess that to the urbanites it was exotic.

Wendy - yeah, no turkey or goose dinners in Japan. Enjoy the food - and the company. We have all year to work it off. ;^)

Robin - What a nice poem, thank you. Best to you in 2009.

Leon Basin said...

That looks freaking gooood!!

Pandabonium said...

Leon - it was freaking good!

Thanks for dropping by. :-)

jam said...

A sumptous dinner indeed!

Pandabonium said...

Jam - somehow feasting goes with good times.

HappySurfer said...

What a delicious-looking spread.
Best wishes to you and K for a wonderful year ahead.

Pandabonium said...

HappySurfer - and continued happy surfing and happiness in general to you too.