Sunday, January 03, 2010

Wii wish you a happy new year

Because Thatbrother and I are running a tight, neck and neck race for sainthood, we both turned down all NYE invites this year so we could spend the night with Thatmom. Not that Thatmom is a party-animal, but we just didn't want her to have to be alone.

We started out with a family dinner with each of us contributing - Thatbrother made the appetizers, which he insisted were no bruschetta even though they consisted of mozzarella and tomato on toasted slices of french bread...... I was in charge of the filet mignons, and Thatmom took care of the veggies and rice.

After dinner, I took over the evening activities. We began with a champagne tasting - because, what else do you drink on NYE? So fitting - I'm a sucker for the classics.

Thatboy and I had toured Korbel when we were up in Sonoma a couple years ago, so I felt like I remembered enough to speak educatedly (ummm ignore the fact that "speak educatedly" doesn't sound very educated) about the qualities of their champagne. By the way, even if you're not a champagne fan, I am a HUGE fan of the Korbel winery tour. The gardens, the history, it's really great.

We were going for the three different dosage levels (amount of sugar in the champagne) to compare. From lowest dosage to highest - Natural (.75%), Brut (1%), Extra Dry(1.5%).

Natural has long been Thatboy and my favorite. It's what we keep in the house at all times "just in case." (What? You don't keep a bottle of champagne in the house at all times?) UDubb agreed, it was her favorite of the three.

Thatmom was torn between the Natural and the Extra Dry. One thing's for sure, no one was a fan of the brut. Which meant it got used in champagne chicken, champagne and onion soup, and champagne cupcakes (which Thatboy now thinks are the best cupcakes in the entire world).

Once we were all good and lubricated, we broke out the REAL entertainment for the evening. See, a couple months back I told Thatboy what I wanted for my "big present" this year (as opposed to the small ones we do every night of Channukah)

TG: I decided, I want Beatles Rockband.
TB: Really?
TG: Well, you keep promising to teach me guitar, but so far you're not. So I'll teach myself.
TB: I see two problems with your plan. First, you're not really going to teach yourself guitar with Rockband. Second, we don't have a system to play it on.
TG: You mean you can't play it on PS2?

We checked, and you can't play it on PS2. So we came up with a brilliant idea. I would get Thatboy a Wii for his big present, and he would get me Beatles Rockband! Except then he had to go and ruin it by making me open it up as my "small present" so he could give me a pretty new Kate Spade bag for my "big present." Which meant he got a ginormous bottle of Johnnie Walker Black for his big present and his parents now think I'm enabling alcoholism.

We waited to hook up the system on NYE so we wouldn't have to plug and unplug everything a million times. We knew Thatmom would love it from the moment she started creating her Mii...making the virtual her as ugly and old looking as she could. And then we were off and running.

Thatmom decided this would be the perfect time for her to try her hand at golf.

And Thatbrother and UDubb got to take out some of their aggression on each other with boxing. (Just a note, I have a million pictures of them playing this game - but this one makes Thatbrother look especially......special)

I don't have any pictures of all of us playing Rockband, because it is ridiculously hard to hold a camera and play guitar at the same time. However, as soon as Thatboy got up on Friday morning, he headed into the studio to practice, so I snapped a shot then.

According to Thatmom, we used to have a tradition (That neither Thatbrother nor I remember) of going out to breakfast on New Year's Day. So we headed out to Plums.

See all those people waiting for a table? We didn't have to wait with them because Thatmom called up the night before and said "Hi. I was there for breakfast this morning and I would really like to come back tomorrow." and they took a reservation for us. Can you spot my little Thatmom in this picture? It's like Where's Waldo!

Plums has a definite bistro feel to it, with high tables and chairs, and a fully stocked bar that our table neighbors were taking advantage of.

You can tell this is Thatbrother's plate because there are mushrooms on it. Which might be his favorite food ever. Next to black beans still in a can, of course. He made his own omelet.

The ladies all let the restaurant make our omelets for us. Spinach and feta with egg whites. It's probably my favorite breakfast, but this had the added bonus of olives and fresh tomatoes!

And since you see bacon, you can be pretty sure this is Thatboy's plate. It's the Oregon Trail (which UDubb almost ordered just for the name) - eggs, bacon, and pancakes.

After breakfast we split up so I could hit up Kean's. Thatbrother had informed me it was just down the street from Plums, so I made sure we stopped. For readers not from Southern California, Martin Diedrich is my coffee god. His chain "Diedrich's" opened in Orange County and served THE BEST coffee. Sure, it was the same "names" as other bigger name coffee house, but the coffees themselves just tasted a million times better. And there was a secret menu for those in the know. I think I actually cried when Diedrich's was taken over by Starbucks. Well Martin had his little brain working away on a smaller scale coffee house, named after his son. There are only 2 of them, but luckily close enough to Thatmom's house so that I can go every weekend!

Look! My coffee feels the same way about me!

And just because I know everyone has "lose weight," "eat healthy," and "hog all the machines at Thatgirl's gym" on their resolution list, I figured I'd leave you with a nice, healthy, low fat, no calorie, waist reducing, bust increasing dessert.

Chocolate Cake (from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 lb butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and lightly flour two 8 inch round cake pans. Melt the chocolate in a small pot or bowl over simmering water; set aside to cool.
  2. Cream the butter, slowly beat in the sugar, and beat until light.
  3. Add the eggs and the vanilla, mixing well.
  4. Add the chocolate and combine thoroughly.
  5. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together, add to the first mixture and blend.
  6. Add 1 cup ice water and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto racks.

Portsmouth Frosting
4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups confectioner sugar

  1. Mix the butter, cream, and vanilla in a bowl.
  2. Slowly beat in the sugar until thick and creamy.


  1. Kean = love. And Plums used to be one of my favorites - before A's :) FYI - we were in Newport on new years too.

  2. Well, Couldn't spot ThatMom but couldn't miss the chick with RED hair.

    Jyl - who saw she was not signed into her usual account but was too lazy to go and change it.

  3. A lineup like that -- must be a place worth trying!

    Got your comment -- we are actually going to California later this month. Giz says you're about 2 hours away...Wanna meet up somewhere in the middle?

  4. Remember me? Long time no post! Me that is!

    Question about your no calorie chocolate cake. Is that because you have Thatboy eat it for you? ;-) I don't think the no calorie would be worth it then. hahaa

    How have you been? I am doing okay- I kind of stopped blogging. May start a new one but not yet.

    I am now in the south- in Graduate school!

    Happy New Year to you too!

  5. Happy New Year. Sounds like an excellent way to begin on all accounts!!!

  6. it surprises me not at all that you and thatbrother love your mom enough to forego all other NYE gatherings to spend it with her. that's just how you roll.

    happy new year to you and thatfamily!

  7. That sounds like a pretty awesome NYE! Here's to a good 2010. :)

  8. So you would say that this is the best chocolate cake recipe you've had? I am amazed at the ice water.

    I'm making a chocolate birthday cake this weekend for party - does this recipe make 2 8" rounds?