A Tale of Two Independence Days

Given that Pdho and I separately celebrated America’s birthday this year, I thought it would be interesting to tell the tale of “two Independence Days.”  Pdho insists he’s only the photographer, so I was left to ask his friends for help in capturing his 4th of July celebration.

Once in awhile, I’ll have some guest writers contribute to my blog.  Truthfully, it’s only been once before, but it isn’t so easy trying to convince people to write something.  This was the case with Pdho’s friends when I asked them to write about their 4th of  July celebration.  Pdho had the opportunity, courtesy of JFuji, to attend the Pacific Symphony concert at the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine…  so without further ado, here is JuCh’s recounting of their evening.

Grilled artichoke & prosciutto lollipops stuffed with goat cheese, basil, & fire roasted tomatoes and mixed baby green salad with lemon vinaigrette

Chilled prime roast tenderloin of beef with roasted garlic & rosemary aioli, fingerling potatoes, & Brussels sprouts drizzled with herb butter

White chocolate cheesecake with rasberry puree

We arrived at the amphitheater early, but we were the first ones seated in the pit.  The food was served by Bristol Farm Catering.  The appetizer used cucumber as a bowl for salad.  The artichoke wrapped with prosciutto was very tasty. The tenderloin was served with hollandaise sauce.  The dessert consisted of white cake and whipped cream surrounded by 4 white chocolate squares. There was too much chocolate and not enough cake, but that did not stop me from eating it all. We were treated to a John Denver tribute concert after dinner. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Rocky Mountain High” were crowd favorites with everyone singing along.  Finally, fireworks synced to Pacific symphony completed the night of excellent food, enjoyable music and great company.


View from my brother's balcony

I, on the other hand, spent the 4th of July with H.o.P. at my brother’s new place in Manhattan Beach.  Over the past couple of years, we’ve started cooking our holiday feasts at home.  It has become quite a fun yet bonding experience for the family.  My brother and sister-in-law planned the entire menu, and I just played sous chef.  It was quite a feast as it usually is. If it’s one thing my family knows how to do… it’s eat. Hehe!

My brother was excited to christen his brand new BBQ grill, so not only was he going to grill up some steaks for the main entree, but he also wanted to prepare some riblets as an appetizer.  He bought two pieces of 16 oz USDA Prime Bone In New York Strip (“Prime” being the USDA designation for grass fed cows).  The steaks were dry-aged for 22 days meaning the butcher lets the meat sit around and decompose in a layer of its own fat.  Seriously, these were big, thick pieces of beef.

Grillmaster in Training

Anyways, my brother came up with the idea of preparing the steaks two ways, so while he took care of the steak on the grill (in addition to the riblets and corn that also went on the barby), I was given the responsibility of preparing a steak a la the Ducasse method.  Keep in mind, I had no idea what this was or how to do it, so I learned.  The link isn’t to the exact instructions I followed, but it’s close enough.  The Ducasse method includes seasoning with salt and pepper and cooking the steak in a cast-iron skillet with a fair amount of butter.  The main thing I had to focus on was making sure to turn the steak on each side every 10 minutes.

Cooking steak on the stove

When all was said and we had finished preparing both steaks, my Steak a la Ducasse (below left) turned out pretty well, if I say so myself.  It had a nice slightly burnt outer layer, and the inside was nice, juicy and pink.  My brother’s steak (below right) ended up a tad bit past medium.  The flavors were there and there was a nice charcoal taste from the grill, but unfortunately, it was a little bit too dry.

While my brother grilled riblets on the balcony, my sister-in-law was inside preparing the spicy peach glaze sauce which ultimately would coat the riblets.  It seemed like a pretty straightforward recipe with a few chili peppers and peach jam.  It really tasted delicious.  It’s a wonder that there was any left by the time we started dinner.

Spicy Peach Glazed Riblets

My sister-in-law was responsible for most of the sides, namely the sauteed broccolini and pan-fried potatoes.  Both turned out very good and with the grilled corn, they did well to balance the entire meal by adding some much needed starch and vegetables.

Sauteed Broccolini
Skillet-Fried Potatoes
Grilled Corn

We had nice Italian red wine with dinner, an Aglianico.  It was a little bit on the woody side, but generally not a bad wine.  Then we topped off dinner with an all-time family favorite, a fruit tart from Le Croissant Dore.

Fruit Tart

All in all, it was a deliciously satisfying 4th of July dinner and ended nicely with us enjoying the views of three different firework shows all from my brother’s balcony.  It was rather nice.   I suppose I can’t speak for the rest of H.o.P., but I enjoyed the grilling and cooking experience and especially the actual fruits of our labor.  It kind of made the meal that much more enjoyable.  So although Pdho and I didn’t spend our 4th of July together, we both enjoyed a evening of excellent food, enjoyable fireworks, and great company.  What more can you ask for?


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