Galentine's Day, family-style

With Carson at work until late and our heart day celebration not until the 15th, this Valentine's Day became a GALentine's Day for me.  I found myself in a party of six (half of them cheesemongers!) at Contigo's "non-Valentine's Day" dinner: six courses served family-style, with some Mad Libs thrown in for good measure.

calamari, arugula, sriracha, banana peppers, radish and pickled onions

The first two dishes were my favorites-- a creamy, beet-fennel salad with loads of fresh dill and chives and a citrus-infused, perfectly spicy calamari salad. 

roasted beets, baby carrots, fennel, dill, chive, creme fraiche

grilled escarole, srtrawberries, pickled blueberries, tarragon verde, crispy garlic

The stars of the grilled escarole salad, in my opinion, were the pickled blueberries, which added a perfect tart pop against the savory, tangy crunch offered by the garlic chips.  (In general, this salad tasted much better than the photo suggests!)

roasted quail, fingerling potatoes, shallot, capers, cornichon, thyme, parsley

Quail really was the perfect protein for this dinner, which reflected the beginnings of spring with a warm nod toward winter.  The fingerling potatoes were soaked in the shallot-rich quail drippings, and cornichon coins sprinkled throughout added just the right amount of acid.

ginger tuille, champagne sabayon, berries, toasted hazelnut macaron with grapefruit cream 

Unfortunately, dessert was the letdown of this meal.  The champagne sabayon appeared to have broken and was oozing out all over the place (and not very champagne-y in flavor).  The macaron was  underwhelming (and, in this day and age, if you're going to put a macaron on the menu, you better offer a damn good one!)  Also- I could barely detect any grapefruit notes in the filling.

Good thing there was more dessert to be had!  My mom had sent us a care package from Shari's Berries, which arrived packed in dry ice and with cute warnings printed on the box.  With Carson finally out of work, we toasted to our first married Valentine's Day (using our Nambe flutes from the wedding) and sank our teeth into the sweet tartness of chocolate-robed berries.