A.G. Newsletter #26: Cafe Boulud Palm Beach, Thanksgiving Dinner, Xixón & Prime 112

A.G. Newsletter #26: Cafe Boulud Palm Beach, Thanksgiving Dinner, Xixón & Prime 112

Hey there stranger,

How was your Thanksgiving? We just got back on Saturday from a trip to visit my family in Boca Raton, Florida. (Or, as it's known in local parlance, just plain "Boca.")

Ritually, I fly in a day before Craig and eat lunch with my mom at Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach. I'm not a huge fan of Palm Beach in general, but I do really like Cafe Boulud. You can sit outside and look at all the people in peach-colored pants and shirts and hats and wonder how they ever thought that was a good idea. And also, there's excellent food (and an excellent deal: three courses for $21.)

For my first course, I had this beet salad which came with hazelnuts, croutons and pearl onions that tasted like they were lifted out of a beef braise and left in the refrigerator to chill (which wasn't a bad thing):

For my entree, I ordered penne with braised short ribs:

This was a nice comforting dish, if not particularly French. Mom ordered the cod and here she is with her fish and a glass of wine (I had one too; we were celebrating my return home!):

Mom wasn't crazy about her cod.... here it is close up:

She wasn't eating the skin (which is totally the best part) so I switched with her and really enjoyed it. (I liked all the fussy/classic French sauces/preparations on the plate; a deep brown sauce and a potato puree.)

For dessert (which came with lunch) we shared a pumpkin cheesecake (as you can see, we were eating light before Thanksgiving (that's a joke)):

And an ice cream sundae:

It was a lovely lunch indeed.

As for the big Thanksgiving feast, once again we were lucky to have the dinner duties relegated to my sister-in-law Tali's family, also in Palm Beach. Craig, Tali's dad, mostly ran the show (though his wife, Gila, Tali's mom, was as hospitable a host as ever.) Here's the turkey in the oven with Craig basting:

There were all the usual sides (Tali did an amazing job with the mashed sweet potatoes) and then Craig asked me if I knew how to make gravy. Amateur Gourmet to the rescue!

Using my vast knowledge of gravy making (which isn't actually that vast, but I do make gravy often with chicken drippings when I roast chicken in a cast iron skillet) I poured about 1/2 a cup of turkey drippings into a pot, added a few tablespoons of flour, cooked that into a roux and then added a bunch of white wine (there was no chicken stock on hand). I whisked and whisked, the gravy thickened and then I tasted. Voila!! An excellent, unusual gravy. The Amateur Gourmet takes a bow.

Here's the whole family gathered around the table (minus mom, who took the picture):

A great time was had by all; thanks to Craig and Gila for hosting us once again!

The next day, Craig and I journeyed to Miami (another Thanksgiving tradition) to hang out with Craig's film school friend Nick. Remember last year he gave us a tour of Cuban Food in Miami? This year we had him suggest a lunch spot and he suggested a place called Xixon which is considered one of the most authentic Spanish restaurants in South Florida.

Indeed, upon walking in, I felt like I was back in Spain. (Remember when we went to Barcelona?) There were all kinds of Spanish foods arrayed out in glass cases and on shelves, just like you might see at La Boqueria:

Here's Nick and Craig at the table (sorry it's so shadowy.)

And here's a bunch of the food that we ordered.

A glass of Sangria....

Sausages cooked in cider....

Patatas bravas.....

Anchovies and manchego (I was wary of this but it was a nice combo)....

Stuffed and roasted peppers....

Octopus on potatoes....

Shrimp with garlic....

For dessert, a Crema Catalan....

and a Cafe Cortado (which really reminds me of our time in Spain; we'd drink that every morning.)

Thanks to Nick for choosing such an excellent place (he's our official Miami tour guide from now on.)

That afternoon, Craig and I explored Coconut Grove and Lincoln Road and before we knew it, it was time to eat again. For a very long time my parents have patronized a Miami restaurant called Prime 112. It's a happening place--look around the room and you'll see football stars, TV stars, and models--and in places like that, I always feel decidedly out of place. But no matter; there is steak to be had!

So we met up with my mom, dad, brother and Tali and let my mom do all the ordering.

First, there was this bread basket to contend with.... the walnut raisin roll was outrageously good....

Then there was this shrimp cocktail (we each got one giant shrimp)....

We shared a giant kobe meatball (I think this is an unnecessary thing to order, more of a gimmick and out of place at a steak restaurant, but we devoured it nonetheless)....

We shared a Caesar salad (that's my portion)....

And then the steaks arrived (I had a petit filet)....

Brussels sprouts and bacon (I'm pretty sure these were deep fried; and despite how good that's supposed to be when you deep fry Brussels sprouts, they were way too greasy for my taste)....

Sweet potato fries....

At this point, I was fairly certain my parents were trying to kill me. How else to explain all this heavy food after 72 hours of eating beforehand? As if to seal the deal, my mom ordered DEEP FRIED OREOS for dessert....

And, to really hammer the nail in, this ginormous Snickers cake.

So yes, I am dead and I am writing this e-mail from beyond the grave.

I hope your Thanksgiving was less death-inducing than mine!! And don't forget, if you want to see my ghost in action, I'm emceeing the Piglet Party tomorrow for Food52. Buy your tickets here.

Hope to see you there...

Until next week.

Your friend,

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