This year my birthday was a four-day festival, gastronomically bracketed by polenta and pork. Thursday night's dinner at Village Pub in Woodside was pretty-near perfect, from the oxtail consomme with marrow dumplings right through the dessert beignets, followed by superb mignardises -- my favorite new French word, learned from the sublime Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini. But the entree was particulary wonderful -- one of the best plates of food I've had in months.
I learned from our waiter that the chef marinates an entire rack of pork in apple cider for several days, sears it on the hardwood-fueled grill and finishes it in the oven. A thick slice nestles in a bed of creamy white polenta, caramelized apple wedges go alongside and a salad of shaved fennel and pink lady apple adds a finishing garnish.
Sunday's polenta and pork were part of the family-style Sunday night dinner at La Posta in Santa Cruz. This time they appeared in separate courses: the polenta with braised tripe as the primi and the pork roasted and accompanied by sweet and sour red cabbage as the secundi.
And even though this meal included an endive and persimmon salad to start and a slice of warm apple crostada to conclude, I still went home and ate a thin sliver of the devil's food cake (with mocha buttercream and raspberry jam) left over from the family celebration earlier in the day.
Thus endeth the Birthday Festival for 2008. Twas grand.