Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Big Fat Greek and Brunch Christmas

The big fat Greek thing is a little overdone, isn't it?  Oh well.  I promise no matter how Greek my next occasion meal is, I will not use the term, "Big Fat Greek."  Okay?  Well, I at least promise to try to resist the urge...

I did no cooking whatsoever this Christmas.  What can I say?  I no longer have the time.  For years I worked in a job with almost unlimited time off.  If I needed an extra day or two to prepare a meal, I could do so easily.  With my new job I have two weeks off and I'm not going to spend those precious days cooking for masses of people.  Yes, I love cooking, but I want my vacation days to be used in pure, stress-free, leisure activities and not stressing out over holiday meals.  I will contribute a dish or two if asked (as I did for Thanksgiving) but I'm not ready to host a meal any time soon.

It was easy to divide the holidays between my parents this year.  Since I had to work Christmas Eve and Dad lives in Manhattan, I suggested I meet him for dinner after work.  It seemed like a seamless plan.  Then I would do Christmas Day with Mom.  I initially offered to cook a few dishes for the meal the way I did with Thanksgiving, but she decided to do brunch instead of dinner and brunch is easy enough for her to do all herself.

They let me out of the office early in the day.  I decided to do the cliched Christmas thing and walk over to Rockefeller Center.  I realized after fighting through the crowds watching the skaters for five minutes that I wasn't seeing anything I hadn't seen many times before and that it really wasn't a productive way to spend an afternoon.

I headed over to Dad's about two hours before dinner.  We sat around and drank too much wine.  Eventually Kevin showed up (he had the day off from work and that lucky dog had been riding all day) and we moved on to the restaurant.

Dad had chosen Ethos on 51st as our place for dinner.  The restaurant is clearly very popular as it was bustling that night. 

I liked the place as soon as we entered it.  The decor is simple, clean, and bright.  The staff was very friendly right from the start.

I started with a cocktail called a Figaro.  It's made with fig vodka.  Until that night, I did not know such a vodka existed.  It had other liquor in it as well, but I can't remember exactly what it was.  Is that the hallmark of a good drink?  If you can't remember what was in it, the drink was doing it's job.  :-)  It was a really good drink I must say.

Our table split some tasty appetizers. The appetizer list at Ethos is long and tempting.  I had been snarfing wine, cheese, and charcuterie at Dad's, so I bypassed the meatballs, sausage, and cheese and stuck to vegetables.  We had something called Ethos Chips, which were battered and fried slices of eggplant and zucchini.  I forgot to take pictures of them.  We also had zucchini fritters.  I almost forgot to take a picture of them as this photo will show.  I think I liked the Ethos Chips a bit better though.

For my main course I went with one of my tried-and-true favorites, lamb shank.  This was served in a slightly sweet sauce, tinged with a hint of cinnamon, and sprinkled with scallions and goat cheese, over some tasty orzo.  I snarfed up this plateful in record time.

They gave us a dessert plate at the end of the meal.  I thought the lump in the middle was ice cream, but it was actually chocolate mousse.  There were also some small rolls of baklava and hunks of that same sort of phyllo-wrapped custard that I had on my birthday this year.  I don't remember what it's called.  The custard was a bit creamier than the one I had at Nemea though.

It was a fun evening with good food and family.  I enjoyed having the night with Dad and his wife and will definitely consider eating at the restaurant again if I'm in the mood for Greek and I'm in the city.

After a night of too much food and wine, we went home and crashed into bed, making it easy for Santa Claus to make his rounds.  We held off on gift openings preferring to wait until we were at Mom's place and I spent my morning working out.

We headed to brunch at noon time.  Mom had set the house up nicely.

The main course for brunch was baked butter pecan French toast.  We tried this for the first time at a bed and breakfast where we used to stay on Chincoteague.  The food at this B&B was so divine and they were so often bombarded with requests for recipes that they published their own cookbook.  This was one of the best dishes they ever made.  (Sadly, the place closed when the owners tired of keeping it up and they sold it to another family that decided pretty quickly they wanted out of the business as well.  The place is out of business and is on the market as a vacation home.)  On the side we had maple-glazed bacon, noodle kugel, my sister-in-law's amazing homemade scones, and fruit salad (yes, we did have a little nutrition in there somewhere).

 Mom cooked a lot of bacon.  She commented on just how much bacon she cooked and my response was, "That's why you're the best mother in the world."

We had good food, good loot, and lots of family company.  I am very lucky that my family gets along and there is never any crazy drama.  Holidays are pretty stress free in that respect.  I do remember arguments and drama in Christmas past, but I realize I was the instigator of it all. I was quite the little drama queen in my childhood and teens and probably made everyone's holidays miserable over the years.  Sorry about that everyone.  Hope you all liked your gifts.


Peter M said...

Spending the festive season the greek it!

bellini said...

i love to cook too but it has been many years since i cooked up a christmas dinner. Sounds like you hae enjoyed so far!!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Peter - I thought you might. ;-)

Val - I am still tempted to want to do a dinner again sometime. Maybe I'll wait till my MIL's February birthday. That will be almost as big as Christmas.