Christmas? It's about the three F's - food, family and friends. What's even better is when you are able to combine all three.
Over the past two years, our dinner party group Stomachs Eleven has taken turns to host a homemade meal, and these days our circle of friends has become more like a family. Someone's usually running late, the early birds will pitch in with last minute prep, and there's always plenty of heckling around the dinner table.
There is no doubt whose house we look forward to visiting most - Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin always put on a stupendous feast that somehow manages to again eclipse the bounty and beauty of our last experience. Our generous hosts volunteered to host a Christmas dinner, helped by Silverlily and Supermario. The meal was amazing, as delicious and exquisite as any meal in a hatted restaurant, but more so because it was handmade with love by friends, and eaten together as a family.
Personalised Christmas cookie place settings (made by Silverlily)
Iced cookies on the Christmas tree
We were tempted to eat them until we found out the biscuits had been sprayed with lacquer!
White anchovies coated in pistachio praline and bread crumbs (Bentley cookbook)
White anchovy sticks is a dish comes from the Bentley cookbook and was one of Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin's favourite dishes from the old Bentley menu. The pistachio praline adds an enticing crunch to the firm slivers of white anchovies.
Radish in pot (Noma recipe)
Radish in pot is one of Rene Redzepi's famed dishes at Noma. We stared slack-jawed at its presentation, each of us unwilling to plunder the first radish from its soil.
Plucking out a radish
Once we started of course, we had to will ourselves to stop. The raw crunch of radish was brilliant against the herbed yoghurt (made with a mix of herbs from Pig Flyin's garden) and a dual-textured soil made from hazelnut meal and Guinness (Noma recipe).
Radishes are tasty
Candle centrepiece by Silverlily
Plating the egg and ham
Candied parma ham on ham custard with ham glace
It's not Christmas Down Under unless you have a ham. Pig Flyin decided to incorporate ham into this elegant starter, an egg shell filled with a rich ham-infused custard and ham glace, topped with candied slices of parma ham.
Supermario plating the soft boiled quail eggs
Silverlily plating the mussel and fregola salad
Eel parfait with quail egg, house-smoked mussels, fregola and seaweed
The eel parfait was as smooth as butter and the soft boiled quail egg was a sight to behold. I relished the chewiness of the fregola, a Sardinian version of Israeli couscous where the semolina dough is rolled into pearls and then toasted. It was paired well with the house-smoked mussels, seaweed fronds and mustard dressing.
Cuttlefish 'gnocchi' (Pier cookbook)
Mrs Pig Flyin spent several hours preparing this dish of cuttlefish 'gnocchi', curls of cuttlefish wrapped around prawns and garden herbs, then tied up individually in plastic and poached gently until barely cooked. The cuttlefish pillows were served in a vinaigrette made with its own ink.
Ravioli of scallop in crab consomme (Pier cookbook)
Pouring the crab consomme onto the ravioli
Ravioli of scallop in crab consomme (Pier cookbook)
This was probably my favourite dish of the night (the radishes were a close second). The ravioli of scallop was as slippery as satin, two paper-thin slivers sandwiched around a dice of tomato and tarragon. Ribbons of asparagus were painstaking shaved by Silverlily and the crab consomme (served in the cutest bottles) was aromatic and sweet.
Purple and orange carrots
Quails in the forest
One look at the cauliflower trees (shaved by Silverlily using a mandolin) and all I could picture was a forest for foraging. We had much fun trying some of everything on the Moroccan-inspired platter.
Duck liver parfait cigars and caramelised figs
Heirloom tomatoes, rolled quail breast, fresh apricots, pickled red beets and golden beets,
pan-fried quail legs in ras el hanout, cranberry couscous, shaved cauliflower,
handmade pistachio paste with garlic and orange zest, and pickled quince gel
Christmas tree cookie on the Christmas tree
Blow-torching the Italian meringue
Yule log (Bûche de Noël) with mushrooms
Yes the mushrooms were made from meringue! These looked so life-like we were all besotted. The mushrooms were the handiwork of Silverlily, who made two types of meringue - one with white sugar, the other with brown sugar - to create white and brown mushrooms.
Handsaw for the yule log
Yule log cross-section: chocolate mousse, praline feuillete and sour cherry compote
The yule log was the perfect festival end to the meal, and the bark pattern on the blow-torched meringue was very impressive.
Figs in bitter caramel amber
We still found room for figs, ripe and luscious, and coated with a gelee of bitter caramel amber.
Digestifs: Sesame shochu, perilla shochu and chilli plum wine
And as we sipped on dragon well tea and an interesting blend of Kusumi Troika tea (China, Ceylon and Indian teas flavoured with bergamot, orange and mandarin), we somehow managed to break into the liquor cabinet as well.
Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin were more than happy to share their stash of Japanese liquors, including a ferociously alcoholic but faintly nutty sesame shochu, a complex perilla shochu and a sweet-as-honey plum wine infused with a chilli kick.
It's Pig Flyin!
And so as we all gather with friends and family over the coming week, I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas filled with plenty of good food and cheer.
Eat well and eat often! You know I will be :)
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven Christmas - 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008
28 comments - Add some comment love
12/24/2010 02:51:00 am