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Friday, December 24, 2010

Stomachs Eleven: Christmas dinner

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.

Ham custard

Eel parfait

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.

Heirloom tomatoes

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

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/24/2010 02:51:00 am


  • At 12/24/2010 3:06 am, Anonymous eatmarvin said…

    Hi Helen! Wow! That's an unbelievably amazing Christmas Dinner! I'd pay good money to try some of those yummy goodies that you had. Merry Christmas and have a Wonderful New Year! :)

  • At 12/24/2010 3:12 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    WOW! Epic feast! Mr & Mrs Pig Flyin are talented people :D The egg and ham dish sounds wonderful. I love the look of the yule log.

    Merry Christmas Helen!

  • At 12/24/2010 5:40 am, Anonymous Louise said…

    What a feast! I am drooling over my keyboard! And I completely agree with you - being able to share those three "F"s together, in the one sitting, is part of what makes Christmas time so special :)

    Merry Christmas GFY!!

  • At 12/24/2010 7:52 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Helen, I have to say I am mighty impressed with that feast! Looks more like a restaurant than someone's home! And those radishes....All the best for Xmas and have a safe and happy New year!

  • At 12/24/2010 9:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As everybody else, I'm impressed! Everything looks so professional AND tasty! Merry Christmas and thanks for inspiring so many people with your blog!

  • At 12/24/2010 9:37 am, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    It'd be amazing to see dishes from well-known cookbooks in real life, and to taste them would be even better. Have a happy Christmas, Helen :)

  • At 12/24/2010 10:29 am, Anonymous billy @ a table for two said…

    I think they have outdone themselves this time. I particularly like silvrlily delicate touch on everything, the refined details made a big difference to the whole feast. Bravo!

    Merry Christmas Helen! A little birdie just told me now Miss Four and Master Six think they have an uncle named Billy. I think I should be invited to your family Xmas lunch next year! ROFL!

  • At 12/24/2010 10:30 am, Anonymous Vintage Macaroon said…

    Wow I'm speechless. What an incredible feast and photographed so beautifully. Very inspiring.

  • At 12/24/2010 10:56 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    OMG - those mushrooms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's insane - but amazing!

    <3 Noma's radishes - looks beautiful, as does everything else. What a special Chrissy meal - Merry Christmas Helen!

  • At 12/24/2010 11:10 am, Anonymous Emily @ Needs More Sugar said…

    What a beautiful spread!

    Lovely styling, lovely food - it must be a real treat to have all your friends together at Christmas.

    Have a wonderful Chrissy and New Year!

  • At 12/24/2010 11:17 am, Blogger mimbles said…

    Oh my! *dies* The food and the photography are both utterly delectable looking and I just LOVE the Pig Flying ornament :-)

    Merry Christmas Helen!

  • At 12/24/2010 12:14 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Oh my, people would pay good money to enjoy a feast as this in a well-famed restaurant! You are definitely lucky to have friends like this to call family. I'm particularly impressed by the mushrooms!

    Merry Christmas, Helen!

  • At 12/24/2010 1:10 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    I think I'm gonna faint if I ever get to meet Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin' (my secret culinary heroes). I'm absolutely speechless...

  • At 12/24/2010 2:21 pm, Blogger Shanks said…

    Wow!! Mind-blowing dishes with such thought and detail - very impressive!! Merry Christmas Helen!!

  • At 12/24/2010 3:19 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Sometimes I think I'd do better to skip these Stomachs Eleven posts... there is so much overwhelmed envious amazedness in my mind right now! I honestly find it mindboggling that there are people in this world who can make such amazing, intricate dishes, without being superheros or working all day in Michelin restaurants. Honestly, that Yule Log would fit right in at Pierre Herme!


  • At 12/24/2010 3:49 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    Wow - what an amazing feast. I'm in awe!

  • At 12/24/2010 6:37 pm, Blogger Jen said…

    Wow! That's amazing! I can't believe that was all done in a home kitchen.

  • At 12/24/2010 7:23 pm, Anonymous food sponge said…

    This is seriously incredible home cooked food. They must have spent hours & hours planning & shopping for the Christmas feast, let alone doing the prep work!

    You are so lucky.

    Merry Christmas!

  • At 12/24/2010 7:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Reading stomach eleven dinner gathering always left me amazed and speechless. I cannot get enough of these posts. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your family!

  • At 12/24/2010 11:40 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    omg that is an epic feast! the meringue mushrooms are amazing! hope you have a great christmas :)

  • At 12/25/2010 12:13 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    i love how the asparagus is cut. i never thought of doing it this way. must try :-) what a wonderful looking feast!

  • At 12/25/2010 9:06 pm, Anonymous Wendy @ Obesebaby said…

    Hey Helen very impressive with the dish. espcially the quail in forest so tempting. have a very Merry Xmas and happy new year!

  • At 12/26/2010 3:37 pm, Anonymous sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    Merry Christmas Helen. What a stunning stomachs eleven Christmas feast. Such an amazing meal, wow!

  • At 12/27/2010 1:48 am, Anonymous Zara said…

    Lovely styling, lovely food - it must be a real treat to have all your friends together at new year.

  • At 12/27/2010 11:20 pm, Anonymous Vix said…

    Wow, the photos on your blog are always mouthwatering, but these were particularly special. That eel parfait looks AMAZING! Are you going to post the recipe? Hope so!

  • At 12/30/2010 8:56 am, Anonymous Anita said…

    Wow! What a fancy dinner. Each dish was restaurant quality. Flyin' pig should go on Masterchef or My kitchen rules. Amazing!

  • At 1/02/2011 3:56 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Thanks for your comments everyone. I'm still sighing as I look over the photos. It was a magnificent feast and I know I am very lucky to have friends like these indeed!

  • At 1/22/2011 10:06 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    I've been reading about these dinners for a while now and never commented. But I've always been so jealous and wished I knew Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin so I could come to these dinners as well. They were always impressive but this one just looks super amazing. Looking forward to the next blogged meal as I can't be there but can live vicariously through your posts.


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