Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Eve - December 31, 2007

We had originally figured on having a quiet New Year's Eve at home this year. That is, until Friday night. We were having dinner at Catal with friends, and we happened to look at Catal's New Year's Eve menu, and boy, did it look good, so we figured, hey, why not?

Since I don't like driving around at night on New Year's Eve, we decided to stay down in Anaheim for the evening. The husband got a decent-priced room, especially considering the lateness of our reservation, at the Hilton next to the convention center.

On Monday, we drove down to Anaheim and had lunch at the Hilton's main restaurant, Cafe Oasis. Their menu has more interesting things than you'd normally find in a hotel coffee shop. I ended up having some kind of salad, which I enjoyed, and the husband had a grilled salmon, which he enjoyed as well.

We checked into our room, settled our things for a bit and then headed out to the resort.

We had figured it would be pretty busy at Disneyland, so we wanted to make sure we'd still be able to get in later in the evening, so when we arrived around 3pm, we went into Disneyland just as far as getting into the turnstiles, and then we left, getting a handstamp (it was Belle) as we exited.

We went to the AMC to catch "Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem", and then we stopped into the Legos store so that I could see the new Indiana Jones sets that the husband had seen on Friday night. They were pretty cool, especially the gauntlet set from the first film, where there's actually a gold idol. And I think the snakes in that set wouldn't particularly freak me out.

We went back into Disneyland via monorail around 6pm, right as the Christmas parade was reaching the Small World area. It was very crowded in the park, and they were already running the warning announcements about the holiday fireworks possibly being cancelled because of the wind, which were pretty fierce already. We watched the very end of the parade, pretty much because we wanted to go on Small World, so once it ended, we joined the forming line, but at least we were fairly near the front of the mob, and we lucked out and got on the side that moved fairly quickly, so it wasn't too long a wait.

We then wandered the park a bit and then passed by the Veranda (next to POTC where they sell the chowder in a bowl) around 7:15pm, and the line stretched to slightly past half-way on the bridge over the POTC queue. I've never seen that line so long before. At first, I couldn't believe they were all waiting in that line. I figured I must be missing something. But at the end of the line, I overheard a family deciding on what they were going to order. I sure hope they had enough chowder and bread boules to go around.

We decided to do some people-watching on Main Street for a while. The porch seats were occupied, so we just sat on the steps for a while. While we sat there, they announced that the holiday fireworks were in fact cancelled because of the winds. I was surprised they were announcing it so early, but at least people were told way ahead of time.

We then headed out for our 8pm reservation at Catal.

Catal was only offering their special menu for the night. It was a four course set menu, though you did have some choices.


cream of mushroom shooter with sliced truffle

first course selection

lobster bisque with sherry drops

baby vegetable stew with truffle broth and chive oil

crispy sweetbreads on persimmons with maple-balsamic gastrique

sushi plate with hamachi, yellowfin tuna, kampachi and uni

seared foie gras with warm brioche bun and apple butter

warm fingerling potato salad with smoke salmon, caviar and creme fraiche

main course selection

pancetta-wrapped monkfish with French lentils and kumquat marmalade

venison loin with honey-braised endive, parsnip puree and pomegranate reduction

olive oil-poached salmon with melted leeks, roasted beets and blood orange salad

petite filet of beef with seared foie gras, truffle-studded sweet potato pave and red onion confit

pan-roasted chicken breast with garnet yam puree, wilted braising greens and honey-lavendar sauce

braised lamb fettuccini with red onions, peppers, fromage blanc and preserved lemon zest


The flyer I got didn't have the dessert choices listed, and I don't remember what they were, though there were 3 choices. One was a goat cheese cheesecake, and one was a chocolate lava cake.

There were so many things on the first course selection that sounded good, so I had a hard time deciding. Ultimately, I chose the sushi plate, and the husband chose the sweetbreads (which was the other thing I had really been looking at), and for entrees, I picked the monkfish, and the husband picked the venison. For dessert, we both picked the lava cake.

I've picked up an affinity for lemon drops, so I had one with dinner again. Even though it was made by the same bartender who'd made it for me on Friday night, this one was much stronger. I noticed that when I realized after finishing about half of it that I needed to not look around quickly or I would get dizzy!

The mushroom shooter was yummy! It was actually a decent serving, and it took about 3 or 4 sips for me to finish it off.

My sushi was really good, with very fresh fish. All of them were actually sashimi servings, except for the uni, which was a little slab on a round ball of rice. I hadn't heard of kampachi before, but it's apparently some kind of Hawaiian fish, and it resembled red snapper. The husband loved his sweetbreads.

One of the sushi items that I love is monkfish liver, but ever since I was introduced to that, I'd been curious about the monkfish itself, which is why I decided on that for the entree. I loved it! The flavor was good, though fairly mild, and the consistency was similar to that of cooked scallops, which I found surprising. I don't see monkfish on a lot of menus, but it's definitely something I'd try at other places. The husband *loved* his venison. I had thought about that as well, since I love venison, but I had opted for the fish instead.

The chocolate lava cake came with a little bit of orangish sherbet on top, which was ok, but the cake itself was delicious! The dessert was garnished with a blackberry that had been cut into several pieces and placed along the edges of the plate. I gave Ryan a hard time because the menu had described it as "blackberry tartare". Ummm, ok, that just means raw blackberry. What the hell? Yes, we had a drawn-out discussion about that with him, as you'd expect!

Dessert also came with a little chocolate truffle for each of us. It pretty much melted as soon as you put it in your mouth. Yum!

We had a great time at dinner, periodically talking to the different staff who came by to say hi. At about 10pm, one of the hostesses came around with new year's party favors. For the men, they had black top hats with a gold band and "Happy New Year" printed on the front of the hat. For the women, they had a headband with "Happy New Year" and white feathers that looked like the old flapper-style. They also had noisemakers for everyone.

We got back into the park around 10:45pm, and we had thought about going to the midnight showing of Fantasmic, but that was announced as cancelled around 11:30 (the other two showings were also apparently cancelled because of the high winds), and they never announced (that I heard) that the midnight fireworks were cancelled - they just didn't do them. We rode Haunted Mansion Holiday and Pirates and then were to the Fantasyland side of the castle when they did the countdown to midnight. It sounded like they shot off a couple low-level shells just for the sound effect, but I didn't see anything, but they might have been low enough that the castle blocked my view.

We then went on Snow White and Pinocchio and then headed for the Toontown train station to ride the train back to Main Street. The park was open until 2am, but we were already tired, so we left around 12:45 to head back to our hotel.

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