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Published: Monday, 1/19/2009

Chinese New Year inspires celebration

When Chinese New Year celebrations begin Monday, the year of the Ox 2009 will be ushered in. The festivities continue for 15 days. During this time people decorate their homes, gather for big feasts, and participate in banquets.

The Chaine des Rotisseurs, Toledo Bailliage has planned an Asian Feast on Feb. 1.

The customary Chinese New Year s dinner includes a cold platter of jellyfish and sea cucumber served with fresh garlic, cilantro, and cucumbers, according to Kathleen Reed, spokesman for the Toledo Chaine.

The Chaine came up with the idea of a multicourse meal and approached the Tea Tree Asian Bistro at Levis Commons in Perrsyburg. My family developed the menu, says Lynn Wang, general manager. Chef Kevin Yu is excited about this opportunity to prepare the traditional celebratory dishes for the Chaine. Each dish will be served with a wine, in keeping with the custom of a food and wine event for the gourmet organization.

Tea Tree will close the restaurant Feb. 1 to accommodate the black-tie event.

Following a 5 p.m. reception with Gruet Brut, a domestic sparkling wine, dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m. with Shark Fin Soup followed by the Jelly Fish Cold Platter. Bouges Santenay, a French Sauvignon Blanc, will be served.

The entree first course will be Braised Crispy Whole Flounder served with Mochel Reisling, a dry wine from the Alsace region of France. It starts sweet and finishes dry.

Then comes the Savory Sea Cucumber and Abalone served with Burgans Albarino, a Spanish white wine, that is easy drinking with a dry finish.

A Green Bean Sheet Platter with Zesty Wasabi Mustard will follow. Jumbo Prawn Braised in Tomato Sauce will be served with Boccadiggabia Rosso, an Italian blend of sangiovese and montepulciano. The wine is great with tomato dishes.

Classic Roasted Peking Duck will be paired with Boussierre Gigondas, a full-bodied Southern Rhone blend of frenache and syrah. The dessert will be Glazed Apple Toffee.

Cost of this fabulous seven-course feast is $165 per person. There are spaces available for prospective members of the Chaine, says Ann Sanford, leader of the group. For reservations, call her at 419-891-2093.

Such a feast is surely in keeping with the holiday. Tea Tree will feature a mahi mahi special for the Chinese New Year beginning Monday.

The Chinese New Year is a time to reflect on what the year will bring, according to Manchu Wok. One way to guarantee good fortune in the coming year is to indulge in such a feast with family and friends.

Many foods prepared in honor of the new year have symbolic meanings. Long noodles represent longevity, tangerines and oranges offer luck and wealth, a whole chicken symbolizes family unity, and a fish served whole embodies abundance and prosperity. Chinese garlic chives symbolize long life.

It is also tradition to give gifts of red bags containing money. The number eight is considered lucky and is linked with wealth. Friends and relatives also give small gifts of fruits, cakes, chocolates, and candies.

At home, prepare a Chinese New Year feast by making Hot and Sour Soup or Asian Stir Fry.

Celebration of Chinese New Year Monday is not limited to the Chinese culture. It is also celebrated by Vietnamese families. Recipes from the Nguyen family and their Red Lantern Restaurant in Sydney, Australia, are found in the cookbook Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart by Pauline Nguyen, with recipes by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen (Andrews McMeel, $40). Two dishes that Mr. Nguyen recommends for Chinese New Year celebrations are Shrimp Sauteed with Tomato, Fish Sauce, and Black Pepper and Caramelized Pork Leg and Whole Egg, with Chile and Pepper.

Kathie Smith is The Blade s Food Editor.

Contact her at: food@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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