Monday, January 5, 2009

Guest Post: Bart Sets the Scene of Our New Year's Eve

Bart asked me if he could recount our New Year's Eve dinner for you all.
Thus, may I present his delicious remarks:

Thank you, Peter, for letting me guest star on your blog!

It is my fervent hope I will entice your seafood loving readers to go to Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab.

Without further ado, Gentle Readers, here we go…

Picture it: Chicago on a very cold evening. Just five and a half hours until 2009.

I alighted the Grand Ave Subway station and walked, nearly breathless with anticipation, east towards my destination: Joe’s.

It was at Joe’s I would greet my beloved and indulge, alright gorge, on a well deserved annual deluxe sea food meal. The likes of which gastronomes close their eyes over and sigh the sigh of le petit mort.

I greeted the vibrant Host who was gaily bedecked in a teal bow tie with a “Happy New Year” and informed him that my other half would be arriving shortly. I didn’t have to wait long at all as Peter arrived early as well. He quickly checked his coat and returned to the Host station where I stared at him with my mouth a gape. Peter was dressed up with a new dark blue dress sweater with an orange button down collar! I gave him a big hug and we then told the vibrant host that we were ready.

Once our table was prepared we walked through a velvet curtain which led into the huge main dining area. As I walked by I noticed all the glitzy outfits the ladies were wearing and the hustle and bustle of the staff all in their well groomed tuxedos. The main hostess festooned with a bespangled jacket handed us our menus as we sat ourselves down and exhaled taking the room in. We then held hands and looked into each others eyes. I then said: We’ve made it to Joe’s!

Glory, Halleluiah! We had survived 2008 and could know have our rewards from the sea.

Our server, Mark, introduced himself and asked if we’d be cocktailing. When Peter asked for a Bloody Mary, Mark asked if it was OK if it arrived with a jumbo shrimp cocktail on top. Oh, Mark, thought I, it was more than OK. Being the shrimp whore that I am I ordered a Bloody as well. As we waited for our drinks we decided on our fair.

Once Mark returned I requested that he take control of the courses but here is what we wanted:

Stone crab bisque – Velvety smooth and redolent of sweet, sweet sherry.

Jumbo shrimp cocktail - Enough said. Smartly served on a bed of shaved ice on a silver tray with a cocktail sauce served with a generous helping of horseradish and lemon.

Select Stone Crab Claws – Delicate in flavor with a delightful texture. Served with a cold mustard sauce. The True gems of the Gulf of Mexico and so fun to pull apart.

Twin Canadian Split Lobster tails – Broiled up spicy and sweet with drawn butter.

Alaskan King Crab Legs – To be seen to be believed. These giant legs arrive table side and are cracked for you so all you have to do is take out the succulent meat, as big as a baby’s arm, dunk it in butter and savor the sweet fresh crab. Once you swallow you feel as though you’ve been gently kissed by a water nymph and you want more and more!

And so we’d get some greens in us we also had sautéed spinach with garlic and olive oil along with a marvelous mixed green salad served with a spicy French dressing.

To wash down all of the above we imbibed in Pellegrino with lime, a fantastic Alsatian Gewürztraminer , and loose leaf Earl Grey Tea.

Being as it was a holiday I forced myself to have a Gold Brick Sundae. Imagine two huge scoops of vanilla ice cream in the shape of snow balls covered in a light chocolate shell with chopped pecans. Incredible and so, so delicious.

Our server, Mark, was sensational. Between courses he asked us to cup our hands as squeezed fresh lemon on to our hands. After we washed our hands in lemon juice Mark wrapped hot towels over them so we would be unfettered as we bravely conquered another course. He supplied shiny silver bowls to discard shells. He was just plain excellent.

As I languorously sipped my tea I counted myself so lucky to have had this experience and then grinned as I new I’d be back to ring in 2010.
* Thanks, Bart! By the way, the two lower pictures were taken with my cell phone. I adjusted the lighting as best I could from the original dark snapshot. I just had to show the sheer enormity. On the right there is no shell - all meat.

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