Chocolate with olive oil and salt
I really am grateful.
I'm grateful for a family, friends, good health and a bounty of amazing food. All too often it can be easy to get caught up in the trivial squabbles of life, and whilst there are many things you cannot change, there are many more you wouldn't want to - moments of good fortune you take for granted every day.
I like to think that this is what Christmas is all about. It's beyond the carols, the presents, the manufactured Christmas "dream". At its essence it's about sharing good food with the people you love, and appreciating how lucky you are to have them in your lives.
My Christmas was a series of meals with family and friends. There was a midnight Christmas Eve feast with Veruca Salt featuring a massive 7kg turkey. Less than twelve hours later, it was the family lunch on Christmas Day. Watching the photos of various meals uploaded on my twitter feed, I found it so intriguing I posted a photographic round-up of what everyone was eating.
The Stomachs' Eleven Christmas dinner was held several days earlier. Our little food group has benefited greatly from the cooking prowess of Pig Flyin - contrary to popular belief he's not a chef but merely a homecook who has a passion for food and cooking that translates into the most amazing meals.
Peeled purple and orange carrots
What's more impressive than the culinary skill, is the generosity of spirit. Good food takes time and it's true what they say - you can always tell when food has been cooked with love. A little bit of skill and practice helps too, and I'm constantly astounded not just by the menu on offer at Pig Flyin's, but how clean and ordered the kitchen is at all times!
An appetiser of pate with breads is presented casually on the coffee table when we arrive. In fact it's a homemade duck liver pate, rich and smooth, alongside a slice of chocolate pate - melted dark chocolate whipped with eggs and olive oil and sprinkled with salt.
Blowtorching the fresh scampi
I love hanging out in the kitchen at dinner parties. There's so much value seeing the raw ingredients being slowly transformed into the meal that will eventually land on your plate, but the sight of the suckling pig stops me in my tracks completely.
Oh yes, a suckling pig flayed and roasted. I could not wait for mains!
But first, entrees. Silverlily always plates entrees, usually following a sketched vision discussed between herself and Pig Flyin. I love this attention to detail.
oysters on tomato jelly; seared scampi with salmon roe;
sashimi scallop with sea urchin roe;
sashimi scallop with prosciutto
Our entree plate of seafood is almost too beautiful to eat. I spend ages taking photos, almost regretting the moment I wil destry the plating. I love the soft wobble of tomato jelly beneath the oysters, and the seared scampi is delicately sweet and succulent. The raw scallops are probably my favourite though, espeically with the buttery sea urchin roe and the thin disc of salty prosciutto.
Duck breast slices
Plating the duck
Duck breast stuffed with pistachio and cranberry
Our second entree is an impressive tower of duck breast, rolled with pistachio and cranberry and wrapped in spinach leaves. The duck is cooked just-so, surrounded by stalks of white and green asparagus. The duck sauce is incredible, the duck bones roasted in the oven to create a beautifully glossy sauce that is sweet and salty and rich with flavour.
Roasted beetroot, orange, rocket and labneh salad
We move onto mains next, a collection of salads and vegetables transferred to the dining room table. The roasted beetroot salad is a new favourite of mine - the fresh beetroot has a firm texture with a melding earthy sweetness that is enhanced by slices of orange, lifted by the bitterness of rocket and contrasted with the smooth creaminess of labneh. The labneh is homemade, made by salting Greek yoghurt and then straining in a muslin cloth in the fridge for two days.
Rocket salad with homegrown radishes
A simple rocket salad is made sunnier by thin slices of pepery homegrown radishes, a Chinese variety that usually has a green circumference which is ringed with red circles in the middle.
Purple and orange carrots
Purple carrots are a beautiful aubergine shade, although their flavour is pretty much the same as the orange variety. Purple carrots are the original colour of carrots - the orange variety we're familiar with today are believed to have been genetically modified by the Dutch, hence Dutch carrots.
Sweet potato mash
A white sweet potato mash tricks a few of us at first into thinking it is potato, but the starchy sugars are unmistakeable.
Suckling pig out of the oven
The star of the show is the suckling pig, of course.
Suckling pig on the table
Suckling pigs, we're told by Pig Flyin, are relatively hard to come by, especially in a size suitable for a domestic oven. A little persistence pays off however, although the piglet does face beheading in order to fit in the oven. The piglet is briefly roasted at 200C to begin with, and then cooked at 150C until ready.
Carving the pig
Crack and crunch. Oh if only I'd thought to videotape the sounds of the crackling snapping against the sharp blade of the kinfe.
The piglet's tail
Dinner is served
I'd been so obsessed with the pig's tail that Pig Flyin takes great delight in putting it on my plate. The curly pig's tail seems a little confronting at first but the first bite is amazing - like the crunchiest crackling you could imagine. The crackling is a thin brittle sheet on top of tender cooked pork.
Creme caramel with pineapple "chop" and sour cream
Dessert is a two-stage affair - first a creme caramel topped with slow-roasted pineapple, sliced to resemble a lamb chop. The cooked custard was cooled in the fridge and then cut with a cookie cutter for an elegant fluted shape. The toffee has everyone in rhapsodies, a deep caramel that has just enough bitterness to offset its sweetness.
Blow-torching the Bombe Alaska
Stage two of dessert is that 1970s the Bombe Alaska. The ice cream dessert is slathered generously with Italian meringue and then blow-torched until the snowy white surface turns into caramelised peaks and valleys.
The entire dessert is doused with Cointreau and then set alight at the table to allow the alcohol to burn off. Flames at the dinner table are always fun!
Bombe Alaska with ginger ice cream and chocolate cherry ice cream
The Bombe Alaska is filled with two tiers of vanilla ice cream: the top layer studded with generous chunks of crystallised ginger; and the bottom layer mixed through with cherries and chocolate shavings.
Flying pig salami
It's another amazing meal thanks to the generously hospitality of both Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin. We love the flying pig salami found by Mrs Pig Flyin at the deli the other day too.
As for the pig's head, Pig Flyin takes me on a tour of the fridge, showing me the head wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. Whilst the sight of it is confronting, it's a reality that carnivores are a necessary party to. In the interests of those that are squeamish, I've kept the pics off the main page, but if you're curious, you can click to check out the pics of the head side-on, or nose-on. I'm told it will be de-boned and stuffed into a miniature version of his previous effort.
I hope that your Christmas was just as tasty. Don't forget you can check out a photographic wrap-up of what tweeting and emailing Australians were eating for Christmas here.
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven Christmas - 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008
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12/28/2009 04:12:00 am