The goat cheese and apricot truffles can be made up to two days beforehand; store them in the fridge and set them out about 30 minutes before guests begin arriving to allow them to come to room temperature.
Bake the brie and the croutons for the salad while you chill the tuna for the tartare.
One of our favorite desserts that gained widespread popularity during the ’90s is molten chocolate cake. To create its signature gooey center, a chilled ball of ganache is placed in the batter just before baking; when the cake is cut, the warm melted chocolate oozes out. For best results, fill individual ramekins with batter and refrigerate them separately from the chilled chocolate balls. Then, add the ganache and bake them just before serving.
What else to drink with this menu but California chardonnay? In the ’90s, big, buttery, oaky wines ruled; today, chardonnay is leaner, brighter, and more elegant. One of the greatest California chardonnay producers currently is Vanessa Peay, whose Peay Vineyards on the wild and windy Sonoma Coast turns out wines that exhibit a vibrant minerality. Peay Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012 ($42) is vivacious with herbs and citrus but with some of that old-school California oak, depth, and roundness.