This year I had one of my best Christmas Eve dinners ever. Maybe it's because it unfolded in such a leisurely fashion--a little eating, a little dancing and listening to music, a little nibbling, a little conversation. And repeat. Watching the sunset, admiring the ring around the moon.
We started about 4 p.m., shucking five dozen kumamoto oysters and watching the light fade over the horizon as we sipped a 1996 Fleury Champagne followed by a 2004 Muscadet. Bruschetta was involved too, lavished with olive oil, ricotta cheese and fresh roasted red bell peppers.
Then we took a break, talked, listened to Dylan's Christmas album and a lot of jazz, and admired the Christmas tree. After a while, we roused ourselves to get the next course together, pasta with olive oil, lemon zest, grated bottarga (dried pressed mullet roe) and a touch of hot pepper. Beautiful with a Raveneau Chablis and a Zind-Humbrecht Rangen de Thann Riesling.
Another break. And then the main event: Dungeness crab we found kicking at San Gabriel Super Store in the San Gabriel Valley earlier that morning. We steamed them for 20 minutes and served the cracked crab at room temperature with a dipping sauce of fresh ginger and black Chinese vinegar. And continued with the Riesling. A few leaves of crunchy romaine to refresh the palate between bites.