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
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?
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 Originally made with thin slices of raw beef, Carpaccio was invented at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy, and was named for the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio who was noted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.
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!
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.