Welcome 2015!

Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s a rather belated greeting at this point, but such is the case with the holidays.  Even after you finish all your dinner party leftovers and finally pack away your decorations, it still takes some time to really get back into your usual routine.  And then I had to go and decide to take the Bar Exam . . . AGAIN.  Some would say this qualifies me as a glutton for punishment.  This time the lucky winner is Illinois.  All I can pray and hope for is that it goes as well as it did a year ago with New York/New Jersey.

In any event, Welcome 2015!  While most traditions surrounding this holiday are probably observed on New Years Eve, especially the countdown and warm first wishes of the year, our family also celebrates the new year with a very special lunch.
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My aunt prepares almost all the amazingly beautiful and delicious dishes from scratch.  The fact that I couldn’t even photograph all the dishes in one shot goes to show how big a feat this is.  Sometimes she tells us she doesn’t sleep at all the night before!

The meal features a mix of Japanese and Korean delicacies, with some Western influences as well.  So it’s pretty much an extremely accurate representation of our family.
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This is Japanese kamaboko, a fish cake that is both firm and soft and squishy at the same time.  This was one of my favorites while growing up.

Some of the dishes have special New Years meanings to them as well.  For instance, the holes in the lotus root seen below is supposed to symbolize your ability to see into the future.IMG_4046

Eel sushi rolls – eel sushi always makes me think of that “Friends” episode where Ross keeps saying “Ahhhhhh……..unagi.”IMG_4045

Eel is definitely one of my more recent sushi favorites.  Although the best unagi don (eel on rice) I think I’ve ever had was at a cute B&B in Vermont on a family ski trip.  Definitely unexpected, but such an amazing find!IMG_4047

An assortment of vegetables you would use to make bibimpap.
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Some more delicious sushi rolls.IMG_4049

Seared scallops – these were amazing.IMG_4050

Panko fried shrimp.IMG_4051

Crab cakeIMG_4052

From top to bottom – smoked salmon, ikura with rice, and some kind of pate I believe.  All were amazing and served in beautiful oyster shells that my aunt has collected over the years.
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Salami with quail eggs and dill – here’s your Western influence making an appearanceIMG_4054

Beautiful pink radishesIMG_4055

Kabocha, aka Japanese pumpkin – its more starchy and creamy than the version you normally find, and you can eat the skin too.IMG_4057I LOVED these rice rolls this year.  I’m sure we have them every year, but for some reason this year they just really agreed with me.  There is a great sweet and salty combination between the rice, beef, and carrots, and I love the spongey texture of the outside of the roll.
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Tomatoes all the way from Jeju – probably some of the most expensive tomatoes I’ve ever eaten.
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And finally, the kalbi – Korean style BBQ short ribs cooked with carrots and other vegetables.  This is one of the ultimate Korean comfort foods.  The meat just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth……
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It really was hard to get a picture with EVERYTHING in view – some of the plates didn’t even get permanent spots at the table!IMG_4064I guess that is what accurately qualifies this as a true New Years feast.

I must say, we were very blessed in the year 2014, with many accomplishments (I passed the bar, Christine got a job), wonderful vacations (Hawaii and Milwaukee), and many many reasons to be thankful.  Now we are ready to march onward into the challenges and (hopefully many) successes of 2015!

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