You know you are loved when your in-laws give you lobster for Christmas.
Once Tim received the gift certificate for Maine Lobster Direct, the only question was when to have them delivered. These are no ordinary crustaceans: fresh live lobsters shipped over night so they still wiggle when they arrive on your doorstep.
You also need to understand that Tim is no ordinary lobster-consumer. He LOVES lobster. We’re talking deep affection. He recently picked a lobster right out of trap in the ocean, begged my mother to make lobster bisque for Christmas dinner, and will order it at any opportunity. This would be a night to remember.
Planning the menu is one of my favorite parts of having a dinner party. I do like the cooking and eating parts too but planning builds excitement in me.
We decided to begin with my favorite easy appetizer: cheese. I always try to have a variety of soft, hard, and pungent. My favorite place to buy cheese in southern California is Surfas in Culver City. I love their knowledgeable staff, samples before I buy, and the huge selection. It also reminds me a lot of the cheese mongers in the covered market in Oxford. Because it is a bit of a drive, though, I don’t make it there very often. Locally, I usually purchase my fromage from Fresh & Easy. Not quite the gourmet spread but they have lots of good options. For this occasion, I chose a French Brie, Manchego, and Double Gloucester with Blue Stilton served with two kinds of crackers.
Tim made margaritas for a fresh start to the evening. It also happens to be one of our guests’ favorite drinks. Even when I’m trying something new (like cooking lobsters for the first time ever), I like to serve something familiar. These margaritas have always been a refreshing hit.
After the cheese, I wanted something light that wouldn’t overpower the lobster to come. Ina Garten’s Avocado & Grapefruit Salad from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home was just the ticket. The creamy avocados and the tart grapefruit just melt in your mouth. We also added some home-grown lettuce (mostly because we’ve been dying to pick some from our garden). Yum!
This is an admittedly summery menu. We figured, though, that if we have the power to eat Maine lobsters in California in January, we can also decide what season to enjoy in the process.
Our excitement was piqued. The guests were invited. The lobster was ordered. I could hardly wait.
On Lobster Day (I do think we’ll lobby for a national holiday), I planned to shop, prep and set the table. Unfortunately, however, Tim called midmorning to tell me the terrible news. Our lobsters (the very ones that should have been wiggling on our doorstep) were trapped in a plane with mechanical problems in Portland, Maine! What were we to do?
Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment of this dramatic saga.