Ringing in the New Year

Santafe.com - December 19, 2018

What will be you dining on as the year comes to a close?

When midnight chimes ring in the New Year, revelers around the world celebrate with culinary traditions thought to bring luck, long life and other blessings. In Spain, for instance, it's customary to eat 12 grapes, one at every stroke of midnight, to assure that the coming year will be prosperous and lucky. In Japan, where long noodles mean long life, soba (buckwheat noodles) are served at midnight, when diners call them toshi-koshi soba, meaning “from one year to another.

The Italians dine on lentils for New Year because they look like tiny coins and thus, are believed to bring prosperity. In Norway and Sweden, the New Year is celebrated with rice pudding containing a single almond believed to bestow prosperity in the coming year on the person who finds it.

Cultures around the world have their own versions of a New Year's cake, eaten at midnight, from the Greek sweet bread vasilopita to the French gateau de rois, Bulgaria's banitsa and Mexico's rosca de reyes, all traditionally baked with a coin or figure believed to bring good luck to the one who finds it.

In the American South, Hoppin' John has long been a New Year's staple. This dish of black-eyed peas, which symbolize coins, is often served with collard greens, because they're the color of money, and cornbread, symbolizing gold. In the Midwest, the New Year's fare includes pork, because pigs root ahead as they eat rather than backwards, the way chickens do, along sauerkraut, as people believe the long shreds of cabbage symbolize long life. And here in New Mexico, lime-cured hominy is often served on New Year's Eve as a way to bring good luck in the coming year.

What will be you dining on as the year comes to a close? Many Santa Fe restaurants have planned a celebratory New Year's Eve feast and you'll find some of these traditional New Year's foods on their menus. You'll also find delectable dishes that will not only make your final dinner of 2018 memorable, they'll keep you coming back for more in 2019.

Splurge on a sublime New Year's Eve feast at Geronimo, recently named one of the country's 100 Best Restaurants of 2018 by Opentable diners. The menu includes some unique dishes such as Serrano Ham and Roasted Almond Soup with sweet potato purée, pan-seared scallops and a Serrano crisp. Or 8-Hour Confit Wild Octopus with spicy romesco sauce, crispy garbanzo beans and microgreens. Entrée selections include Geronimo's famous Telicherry Rubbed Elk Tenderloin with roasted garlic fork-mashed potatoes, applewood-smoked bacon, sugar snap peas and a creamy brandied-mushroom sauce. Butter-Poached Whole Maine Lobster is also on the menu, accompanied by sweet corn-cotija cheese agnolotti, avocado mousse, fennel purée and sweet corn veloute. You could also feast on Wild Mushroom Lasagna with ricotta cheese, leek purée, shaved black truffles and Parmesan foam.

Bouche Bistro's New Year's Eve celebration offers an array of elegant and exciting flavors as a three- or five-course meal. Selections include Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Siberian Sturgeon Caviar; Goat Cheese Souffle with Warm Fig and Red Wine Syrup; Seared Scallops with Black Tie Linguine, Broccolini and Saffron Nage; and Port-Poached Beef Tenderloin with Fontina Polenta, Baby Vegetables and Barolo Sauce. Sweet end notes include Pear Tarte Tatin and Passion Fruit Creme Brulée.

At 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar, you can toast the New Year with a French flair, starting off an elegant prix fixe meal with choices that include French Onion Soup Gratinée with Comté cheese and an herb crouton; House-made Country Pate with Green Peppercorns, Pistachios, whole grain mustard and pickled vegetables; and Champagne Battered Wild Shrimp with celery root remoulade. Entrée options include 315's signature Steak Frites served with herb butter, béarnaise or au poivre; seared sea scallops with lobster brandy sauce, and lamb stew with green olive cous cous.

Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi's New Year's Eve Tasting Menu offers festive fare, from a cold-poached Lobster tail with cauliflower Vichyssoise, white asparagus, tarragon and caviar to crispy duck leg with winter squas, confit citrus and black garlic. There's also Colorado lamb loin with fennel, barley, sumac yogurt and spearmint and salted caramel pear pavlova with vanilla crème, rosemary and gold dust. What a delectable way to end the year!