We’re rapidly approaching 2011. Where has this year gone? It seems lately like time is flying past me faster than I can catch up. This time of year always makes me stop and think about the one bowing out, and what I’ve accomplished during that time that I set out to, and what I have not. A lot of changes certainly. Our last year in our beautiful house. Sigh, but new adventures on the horizon, so it all balances.
New Year’s Eve, for me, has never been particularly memorable, this could be in part due to the fact that it usually signifies imbibing way too much of the nectar of the gods, this accompanied the following morning by numerous promises never to allow another drink to pass your lips uttered, most likely, while they are firmly pressed to the toilet seat.
One year when I was unmarried, after dating this great guy for about four months, he suggested that we go away for the New Year’s weekend. Additionally, our destination was to be a surprise. How romantic. I love romance. I’ve probably set the world’s record for watching Sleepless in Seattle. I was totally excited, and splurged on a new red dress that fit as though the tailor had me in mind when he’d sewed the seams, with a pair of wickedly decadent shoes to match. My parents offered to babysit for the weekend, so the die was cast.
Being a young single mom, and just starting back into the uncharted waters of dating again, this was to be a real test. When you spend a lot of time with two small children day in and day out, just resisting the urge not to tell my date to eat his peas or to offer to cut his meat was, for me, an accomplishment.
Several days after Christmas I developed cold symptoms. Loading myself up with Vitamin C and cough syrup I managed to work through the week, although definitely feeling a bit under par. Coming from a doctor’s family, I’m like the plumber who’s toilet is never fixed, I’m bad about going to the doctor so toughed it out on my own.
The weekend looming and my cough not improving, I took desperate measures and put the children’s humidifier in my room with some improvement, and packed my bag. My children happily ensconced at their grandparents, my traveling companion picked me up right on time and we were on our way. It seemed he had gotten us reservations at a beautiful resort hotel on the California coast well-known for their unbeatable New Year’s Eve festivities and gorgeous scenery. Nirvana.
After a lovely drive through the redwoods we arrived at our destination, not to be disappointed. The rooms were lovely, replete with phones and TV in the two well appointed bathrooms as well as a cozy fireplace in the center of the room surrounded by a settee and several comfortable chairs to sit and enjoy the view. Outside a soft azure glow could be seen beneath the steam rising from the private hot tub on the deck. This all overlooked the jagged rocks and Pacific Ocean below to make for quite an impressive package. Cough.
After enjoying a delicious dinner of rack of lamb with mint sauce, delicately seasoned creamed spinach, and the best scalloped potatoes I’d ever put in my mouth we took a walk along the beach and returned to our room. The weather was overcast and the wind up, so the cold damp conditions had done little to improve whatever was brewing in my chest. Deciding to forego anything but a good night’s sleep, I once again loaded myself up with cold remedies and spent a restless night coughing and hacking.
Waking up on New Year’s Eve day the hotel was in full preparation mode for the party that night. We explored downstairs, and visited the rooms where the party itself was to be held. Party hats were piled high on the table outside the door and the band had already set up their instruments on the stage. Oh boy, cough, hack, cough, hack. My head was beginning to pound, and the drummer hadn’t even picked up a stick.
As the evening approached I took my dress out of the cellophane and hung it to release any wrinkles, placing my shoes on the floor beneath it. Beautiful. Cough.
The tickets were sitting on the desk in the room, and I casually glanced at the $1000.00 printed boldy on each. Whew. The fog had rolled in along the beach, and my cough was accelerating to the point that ships in danger of hitting the rocks would have been alerted long prior to any danger. My forehead was alarmingly hot, adding a nice rosy flush to my cheeks. I managed to get dressed and with each cough my roommate was looking more concerned.
Downstairs was buzzing with activity, everyone dressed to the nines and couples mingling with one another in the crowd. Music drifted out of the door to the main dining room. Champagne was being served in tall flutes on silver trays and laughter and pleasant conversation filled the room.
We sat at a table with six other couples, none of which we knew, but all seemingly very friendly and sociable. Soup was served first, followed by salad. My cough was getting worse and people were giving me a wider birth as the meal progressed, to the point that it soon appeared as though we were sitting alone at our end of the table.
Suddenly I was just totally ill. The main course, which looked yummy, was just being circulated by the wait staff when I had to leave. The staff, living up to their four star reputation, boxed ours and delivered them later to our room. Blessedly in bed, red dress still on, my boyfriend called the front desk to inquire if there was a doctor available. Amazingly, they had an on-call number for such situations and returned our call to say he would be there shortly. As it turned out, I had pneumonia. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to the hospital, but the remainder of much-anticipated weekend was spent in bed taking antibiotics and liquids, followed by a week in bed at home after I got back. Ah well.
Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
2 racks of lamb trimmed by the butcher so the bones protrude
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush beaten egg over the fat side of both racks. Reserve the rest for crust.
In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, herbs, scallions, garlic and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus 1 Tbsp. of beaten egg. Mix well to form a paste.
Divide in two sections and spread paste over the fat side of each rack.
Place racks in roasting pan crusted side up. Point bones towards the center. Roast 40-50 mins. for medium-rare, and 60 mins. for medium.
Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 mins. Slice into individual chops and serve with pan juices. Serves 4-6.
English Mint Sauce
6 Tbsp. water heated
3 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup malt vinegar
Heat water. Dissolve sugar in water until syrupy. Cool.
Add mint leaves and vinegar and let sit for 1 hr. prior to serving.