Food worth saving up for

If you're going to save your points, here's the meal I had last night, courtesy of my employer, that was totally worth eating boullion with vegetables floating around in it for lunch for the week. When your company has its holiday party at the Pfister Hotel (Wisconsin's only truly 5-star hotel), you're not getting the same old nasty hotel banquet chicken cordon bleu, let me tell you.

First off, open bar. TOTALLY open bar. Damn good vodka martini. Well, it better be, given that I tipped the bartender $5 fifteen minutes earlier when I started my night off with a Heineken.

Appetisers: a variety, including these things that tasted like extremely refined crab cakes, but wrapped up in little crepe purses and tied with a string of scallion. Also, this incredible artichoke thing that basically tastes like that famous hot artichoke dip, but more artichoke, and surrounded by a delecate (but let's not kid ourselves) deep-fried coating. My favorite was this tuna tartare thing served up on some kind of crostini, with a dab of cold wasabi butter, but was othewise seasoned to answer the question: What if the Italians did sushi?

Soup: very tasty fresh cream of mushroom soup served en croute, except the "croute" wasn't a just piece of bread floating around. No, the cup was sealed shut by baking a layer of puff pastry right on top, browned and puffed perfectly so that when they brought them out, we had to wait till it got to our table before we could determine whether it was a popover, a souffle, or the soup that it turned out to be.

Salad: a bed of fresh greens, with a fan of alternating steamed and marineated beets with the best goat cheese i've ever had. I'm still working up my taste for goat cheese and this offering sealed it. It didn't have that skunky taste I normally hate in goat cheese. Raspberry vinagrette, but not ordinary raspberry vinigrette finished it off.

Rolls: these were only very good, but nothing the Iron Chef would have served, like the rest of this meal. I passed.

The Main course: a potato thing that was a sort of concentrated au-gratin, baked with a lovely crust. Not a huge serving, thank god. The most tender, no-sharp-steak-knife-provided-nor-needed piece of beef filet I've had outside of a Japanese Kobe Beef offering, cooked a PERFECT medium rare. And then a slab of salmon, poached and served with a lovely (but not overbearing) cream sauce that might have had flecks of sorrel in it. Vegetable was asparagus steamed perfectly, arranged inside a stemed tomato shell.

Dessert: a molded dark chocolate shell filled with some stuff way too rich to be mousse, but too thin to be cheesecake. Every other person at the table got this, and the others got a piece of white chocolate cheesecake. Almost everybody there (including myself and Brian) shared their dessert with their date, was was a clever way to serve up two desserts without giving us all coronaries.

OK, back to boullion today. I might not like the news the scale gives me Wednesday, but I'm not regretting just throwing the points book away for this night. If I can't have nights like this once in a while, then what's the point? I did go STRAIGHT to the Y today.


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