And how was your Christmas?
For me, it involved two days of relentless (and totally selfless) gluttony. Two dinners were consumed on Christmas Eve, because I had to. First a casual affair at Mum's--leg ham, salads and roll-your-ownVietnamese goi cuon summer rolls.
At 10.30pm, I'm at cucina Veruca for a feast of glazed leg ham (ooh yum, that ginger marmalade glaze works a treat!), bo tai chanh raw beef salad, roast veggies and the bestest roast pork I've had this year. Made using a recipe by Karen Martini, the pork belly slab was simmered for 90 minutes, dried in the fridge for four hours and then roasted on high for an amazing pork crackling with meltingly tender fat-ribboned flesh.
11.30am Christmas Day: A family lunch of cold cuts, seafood and salad. I contribute my roast pumpkin salad with toasted almonds. After a frenzy of present unwrapping by impatient and very excited little 'uns, there's a decadent homemade chocolate tart of chocolate pastry and chocolate ganache filling (recipe by Serge Dansereau, execution by Mister Ed). We also manage a few iced gingerbread men and shortbread swirls (recipe to come) with cups of tea.
At 6pm, my digestive tract is treatening to go on strike by my eyes are wide with greed. I've managed to score an invite to Pig Flyin's Christmas dinner--he of orange souffle fame--and the sight in the kitchen is an amazing one indeed. One by one we watch he and K plate up dish after dish, a buffet table that is soon groaning with 16 (yes 16!) works of art.
Seared giant scallops paired with blood sausage or chorizo,
topped with hollandaise sauce and chervil
I'd always been sceptical about the pairing of scallops with blood sausage but this contrasting combination works wonderfully, the earthy heartiness of the blood sausage complementing the light and delicate sweetness of the scallop.
Homemade gravlax #1: salt-cured salmon with dill
Homemade gravlax #2: salt-cured salmon with lemongrass and chilli
(so very Donna Hay!)
Preparing the crab salad cornets
Cornets stuffed with hand-picked crab salad
The cornets were made by wrapping wonton sheets around cannoli horns
and then deep-frying until crisp. Such decadence! The crab was so sweet, the cornets were so crunchy and golden.
Stuffed cabbage rolls
Preparing the roast beef canapes
Crostini topped with rare roast beef slices, horseradish cream,
salted capers and grated lemon
Carving the Berkshire ham
A Berkshire ham! The G-man was a little confused about what this meant until I explained that Berkshire pigs, also known as Kurobuta pigs, are the wagyu of the pork world. Pig Flyin' took Veruca's tip and used ginger marmalade as the glaze and oh, what a masterful dish of perfection!
Berkshire pork glazed leg ham
The caramelised skin... ooh it was like a pork caramel lolly. Soft and chewy, it was salty, sweet and ooh so porky. If only they sold these wrapped in twists of paper by the bag! The pork itself was wonderfully moist and tender too with an amazing smoky flavour.
Le Creuset pots with homemade fruit chutneys
Chilled tomato soup with parmesan ice cream; and
almond milk with frozen white cherries
It's about this time that I start pinching myself to check I'm not dreaming. Tomato soup with parmesan ice cream? I could swear I'm in a dream about Iron Chef! But no, Pig Flyin' is dismissive of our gasps of wonder. "It's easy," he says, just melt the parmesan into cream, whisk in stiff egg whites and freeze." Uh-huh, I reply.
The chilled tomato soup is so cool and refreshing. There's also a parmesan biscuit (grated parmesan baked on Silpat sheets and then snapped into crackers) and the parmesan ice cream really does pack a frozen parmesan punch.
The almond milk was made by soaking blanched almonds in water, then blending to a pulp and squeezing out the juice. Thick and slightly tart, this was an aquired taste, although I did enjoy the frozen halves of white cherries at the bottom of the glass.
Confit of salmon dusted with ground Japanese mountain pepper
served on a bed of shaved fennel
Oh this looked very Tetsuya-style! The confit of salmon, cooked slowly in oil at a very low temperature, had a wonderfully firm texture. Pig Flyin' is a big fan of Japanese mountain pepper and I can see why. Sophisticatedly mild with nuances of lemon, there's none of the abrupt harshness one normally associates with traditional black pepper.
Greek salad, fresh beetroot salad and Israeli cous cous salad
Israeli cous cous salad (also known as mougrabieh)
This was the first time I'd tried mougrabieh, or Israeli cous cous. I loved its squeakiness, plump granules that felt like a cross between pasta and lentils.
Calamari ripieni - calamari stuffed with its own tentacles
served on a bed of French puy lentils
One word. Wow. I love calamari ripieni but could never fathom making my own. This was so tender, and I loved the toothsome texture of the puy lentils as well.
Buche creme citron framboise
Lemon curd, rasberry and italienne meringue log
The Buche de Noel was bought by X from Cafe Maison. This flavour is apparently the shop owner wife's favourite. X reports that the cafe is on Boundary St in Ruschcutters Bay/Darlinghurst, near the corner of Glenview St. The chocolate plaque was named with Saint-Germaine Patisserie.
Raspberry and white chocolate tiramisu
Pig Flyin' says he hasn't made much dessert--a raspberry and white chocolate tiramisu--and then he brings out homemade nougat! Cue gasps of shock and utter delight!
Homemade cranberry and pistachio nougat with ginger juice
Cranberry cupcakes with white chocolate icing
My cranberry cupcakes pale in comparison to Pig Flyin's efforts. But I don't care. I'm just so grateful I scored an invite!
And most impressive of all was the calm and peaceful state of the kitchen throughout the entire preparation time. Oh we're not worthy, Pig Flyin', but we're so very very glad we're your dinner party friends!
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2010 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Teochew feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Mole poblano and pulled pork tacos (Me)
Stomachs Eleven: Pizza and friends (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Ten kilograms of mussels (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Shanghainese banquet (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi (Silverlily)
Stomachs Eleven: Stuffed deboned pig's head + nose-to-tail eating (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: French feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Whole suckling pig and Chinese banquet (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Hotpot night (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Crackling roast pork and black sesame cupcakes (me)
Stomachs Eleven: No ordinary steak dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Polish feast (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2009 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Char siu and Hainan chicken (me)
Stomachs Eleven: Amazing impromptu dinner party (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Dumplings and Shanghai soy duck (M&L)
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12/29/2008 11:56:00 p.m.