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Christmas Eve Smorgasbord


The holidays are here. Time to start thinking about our special Christmas Eve feast. Paul and I have created a tradition of really splurging on our Christmas Eve feast with our favorite things. This is a smorgasbord of treats and goodies that we try to reserve just for this occasion. I believe that you have to treat certain foods as rare and special and reserve them only for that special occasion. When favorite things come to mind they are often rare or expensive items. One of the beauties of this menu is there is hardly any cooking.


We like to start our feast with goodies from the sea. Christmas Eve is the only time of the year we splurge on a jar of caviar. The caviar we buy is sustainably farmed so we don’t have to worry about further depletion of the Caspian Sea. The caviar is served on blinis with grated hard-boiled egg, lemon and a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream. Marinated herrings in sour cream sauce is another treat from the sea we like to include. Fresh oysters from the fabulous oyster farms in the Bay area picked up at the Farmers Market are a must. These are simply served on the half shell with either a shallot vinegar sauce or my favorite - a dash of lemon and Tabasco.


A few days before Christmas Eve we buy a beautiful fillet of fresh salmon and make some fresh gravlax. This is also good on the blinis with a mustard dill sauce. All of these feasts from the sea are washed down with the best dry champagne we can afford. When the champagne is gone it’s time for the next phase.

The Pinot Noir is opened and we then go into the smoked pheasant with a hot pepper jelly. This tradition started with a gift from my sister Patty that included a smoked pheasant. We are lucky to have the fabulous meat company, Golden Gate Meats, close by at the San Francisco Ferry Building. If you call ahead they will smoke a pheasant for you. This is also good served on the blinis or on a good cracker or sliced baguettes. A really good pate from Marcel & Henri, or some duck rillettes from our local Cheese Plus shop are served with crackers and cornichons.

Cheese and Pate

The feast also wouldn’t be complete without some charcuterie slices of really good salamis from Molinari’s. Then of course there are the cheeses. We usually buy at least four different ones for our feast. We experiment from year to year with different types and there’s no shortage of cheeses to experiment with. Some beautiful sliced pears are a beautiful accompaniment.

This may sound like too much food but part of the beauty of this feast is the leftovers. Some of the gravlax is used the next morning for a scrumptious version of Eggs Benedict. If there’s still some leftover gravlax, I scramble it in eggs for either a breakfast or a light dinner. There is usually enough of almost everything for a mini feast a day or so later. This year even the pheasant carcass was used in a delectable pheasant congee.

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without making some treats for gift bags. Last year my niece Adrienne and I had a treat-making day and made Chocolate Almond Toffee, Fleur de Sel Caramels and Chocolate Orange biscotti. All of these goodies were received with sighs of pleasure.