My friend's birthday coincides with New Year's Eve, so what else to do but throw a New Year's Eve Birthday Around The World Buffet Party! Baby and I had invited somewhat of an international roster and folks from out of town were also coming, so we planned on a buffet where our friends could come and graze as they pleased instead of cramming in around the table. This was a great idea as people really did filter in and out through the evening, arriving at different times. As far as the menu was concerned, we knew we wanted to make French onion soup which served as the base before we ventured further across the globe. We also had planned to serve a different course every hour on the hour, leading to a midnight Champagne toast but things rarely work out that way.
Classic prawns in pints from England were actually easier-to-procure shrimp and the Lobster Bisque Dip I whipped up, with chunks of lobster, grilled corn, and a diced mango finish was simply from New England (more on that later). It was served with kettle crisps but the shrimp also found its way in the dip too!
The French onion soup enriched with Cognac was ladled out from a marvelous tureen with individual gruyere cheese toasts to top our guests' little cups. For our Italian pasta course, Sam Sifton's Mushroom Lasagna from the New York Times was an absolute time-consuming chore--thank goodness I made it the day before--but it should sit in refrigeration over night anyhow. I feel it was worth it though, nearly blushing over the ensuing compliments. There was barely any left and what was went to other homes, sealed in Tupperware. Baby used a recipe for ragu from Saveur to complete the course. This meaty sauce with beef chuck and pork shoulder also incorporated chicken livers and pancetta. He even made his own ricotta cavatelli for a perfect pasta foil!
Here it all deliciously came together, with a judicious shaving of Parmesan cheese:
Behold the octopus!
We wanted something lighter to serve after all that pasta, so Baby tackled this slimy sea creature with abandon to create a Greek dish, with red wine and sliced wild fennel. The olives in the dish were salty to be sure but even the squeamish amongst us tried it and I believe we had a few converts.
Before midnight we served a simple marble bundt cake to celebrate our friend's birthday. We had planned on Swiss chocolate fondue but we were just too exhausted by that point and everyone else was too tipsy to care.
Blow out the candles and make a wish...!