21 Dec2006

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A Christmas Dinner with Marketman, Family and Friends. After the Filipino themed holiday dinner described in previous posts, we moved on to a more Western-themed dinner for 16… menu2Here is an overview of the menu, the dishes and a brief rundown of the evening…details of the roast beef, ham, etc. coming up as fast as I can type them so that you can use the recipes this holiday season if you want. But first, the big picture… As the guests arrived, they were served incredibly fresh raw baby carrots with an anchoiade, smoked salmon with dill mayonnaise on toast and sliced smoked turkey breast with spiced chutney also on toast. Several great bottles of white and red wine brought by guests were on offer along with the usual non-alcoholic beverages… After an hour or so and everyone had had at least a drink, we moved to the dining tables…

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I prepared two dishes for the “First Course”… (these were originally supposed to be plated together but that seemed a bit “busy” so I opted to separate the service). menu6First up, a baby lobster steamed until just cooked, served cool with grape tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, arugula microgreens and a pomegranate juice vinaigrette. This was followed by a pan-seared foie gras served with toasted Vargas buttercake biscocho with a heated sauce made up of Marketman’s homemade Mangosteen jam thinned with cognac. This second dish nearly killed me as the smoke, delicateness of the foie, and its low melting point resulted in less than stellar looks, but brilliant taste nonetheless. The kitchen was like a five alarm fire with smoke as thick as fog so there are no pictures of this dish… The waiters mentioned they thought they had lost their breath for a few seconds while plating this appetizer! Heehee. I hope they were joking. Never attempt foie at home for 16 guests…too stressfull! But I can tell you the pairing of mangosteen jam with foie gras was truly inspired… With these starters we served several bottles of Spanish cava, a nice alternative to the more traditional champagne toast. We thanked everyone for coming, for all the great things that have happened in the past year and to all the great things we are capable of doing in the future…

With my role in the kitchen for the evening over, my crisp white apron discarded and enjoying my abused duck liver…the main buffet was set-up. First there was the menu3Angus Rib Eye Roast with a Red Peppercorn Crust (did you know red peppercorns aren’t actually peppercorns?) and served au Jus (meat juices augmented with some beef stock) with a sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt. This was accompanied by beautiful looking Yukon gold potatoes (I think) that were first parboiled, then cooled, then pan-fried in goose fat. Yes, read that again, potatoes in goose fat…utterly sublime. We also had a whole Country Ham from Tennessee, intense, salty and flavorful with a quick glaze of brown sugar, mustard and vinegar (no pineapple please, I am allergic to it). My sister made these mini savory corn muffins with chopped green onions to complement the ham, the slight sweetness were a perfect foil, and the cuteness meant greater consumption by guests. We also served a spectacularly easy, yet delicious cauliflower gratin using a Thomas Keller recipe as well as a green vegetable… steamed then buttered asparagus with parmesan cheese. The key to this meal was to take it slowly…to savor the different meats with their preferred partners and to balance the flavors, textures, creaminess and richness of it all…

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At these types of dinners, guests usually offer to provide the wine and I am thrilled with that symbiotic relationship that results in meals you can rarely pull off menu9in Manila these days. Guests that evening included members of a family who own a vineyard in Margaux plus several wine enthusiasts so the selection was spectacular. Besides the whites and reds with the hors d’eouvres, the cava with the first course, we had two wines with the main course. We started off with a Chateau Siran 1996, and polished off four bottles of this wine, only to move to a stunningly good magnum (a bottle with the equivalent of two regular bottles) of Chateau Siran 1989. Apparently, one must always start with the younger wine if you are consuming wine from the same vineyard at a dinner. In this case, the older wine had noticeably different depth and character and I really did enjoy the wine that evening. At a total consumption of roughly 9 bottles thus far (for perhaps just 10 people drinking), let’s just say folks were feeling happy…

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After the main course buffet was cleared away and the last drops of the wine were poured, a cheese course was set out. Here we served a large chunk of Saint Andre Triple Crème (my favorite OTT type of cheese of the past two years), an aged Chevre or goat cheese, an aged Manchego and a pungent Roquefort. We only remembered to photograph the menu8serving platter after it had been decimated by guests. This plate alone must have been a good 10,000 fat calories… To make one feel better about that concentrated milk fat, there were dried fruits such as figs, pears, nectarines, peaches, dates, apricots, golden raisins and a selection of nuts. Fresh grapes were served as well. It was interesting to watch the guests at this point…despite menus being laid on the tables so everyone could pace themselves, some guests gave up at this point or took tiny slivers of cheese just to taste the different choices. But other guests who love cheese made this their main course…

A little more conversation and table hopping while the dessert was set-up. For these once or twice per year dinners, I try to make just about everything so this year I did 2 out of the 3 desserts. First up, my favorite intense warm chocolate tart (recipe by Francois Payard) menubthat I made earlier in the day and garnished with candied violets. This was served with a Callebaut chocolate pots de crème (cold) served with sliced strawberries and mint leaves and sprinkled with powdered sugar. And to complete the trio of desserts, a guest brought three dozen chocolate and strawberry macaroons (I have tried making these before, they are impossible for a home cook, I reckon) from Bizu. Together with dessert, the waiters poured two bottles of very good Warre’s Special Reserve Port. Guests certainly looked happy…and they had this “ohmygosh, I will explode soon look” on their faces.

Some freshly brewed coffee, a selection of teas and that would hopefully “melt” some of the food that they had just ingested over the past two hours. menuaBut wait, there is that last, final touch… two pounds of assorted La Maison du Chocolat chocolates for anyone that needed one or even two more sweet(s)… It would have been amusing or alarming to do a total calorie count that evening. Somehow a few thousand calories per guest is likely. But it was a great dinner and a nice way to celebrate with family and friends. We don’t do it that often, but when we do, loosen your belts!!! Many thanks to “Sister,” who carted a lot of this menu in her suitcases a few days before. Merry, Merry Christmas to All!!! Key recipes coming up…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Maria Clara says:

    Your Christmas dinner is truly a great bonanza with a great combination of two different frontiers European and North American which came out big success. Anything cook with goose fat is very delicious. It adds another big depth of flavor and complexity. Just think of confit – duck, onion, garlic. . . cook drowning in goose fat under slow fire for at least six hours. Gratins with goose fat either potatoes, cauliflowers, asparagus come out the best. Use a fresh pan for every batch of foie gras. Everything is paired of really well! Job well done MM.

    Dec 21, 2006 | 9:08 am

     
  2. wysgal says:

    Everything looks great, that’s a WHOLE lot of food for 16 people — no wonder guests felt like exploding. I’m cooking Christmas Eve dinner myself (am tag teaming with my sister though, so I’m not going at it alone). Happy holidays! =)

    Dec 21, 2006 | 9:28 am

     
  3. Gigi Santiago says:

    I am floored. Floored by the energy expended, the heart and mind that went into the planning up to the implementation… You continue to amaze me and your readers, MM.
    Floored….

    Dec 21, 2006 | 11:47 am

     
  4. tulip says:

    Shucks, why do you have to prepare those that I love the most? The selection of cheese is great and I might be one of those that will make it my main course! The asparagus, the baby carrots, the dried fruits etc,etc. How I wish I was invited,hahaha. I might have brought Boule de Lille and Bleu d’Auvergne cheese plus selection of greens for salad. *bribes* hehehehe. Have a Blessed Christmas Marketman, Mrs. Marketman and Kid!!

    Dec 21, 2006 | 1:24 pm

     
  5. cwid says:

    Can’t wait for the recipes!Am preparing for Christmas eve and Christmas day dinner and NY’s eve…your menu ideas will really come in handy for a scaled down version of your dinner buffet.
    Thanks for being so generous with your talent.

    Dec 21, 2006 | 4:13 pm

     
  6. mojito_drinker says:

    hi MM– am heading off for vacay in the next few days. i’m expecting things to get extremely hectic so i just wanted to make sure i greeted you… hope you and your family have a merry christmas and a happy 2007!

    Dec 21, 2006 | 5:56 pm

     
  7. joey says:

    Amazing spread! I have been wanting to try both foie gras at home as well as potatoes fried in goose fat…YUM! I will mind your advice and not make foie for a big party…just for me, hehehe :)

    Everything else looks and sounds so good…especially that warm tart you made and those carrots! And of course, the Maison du Chocolat goodies :)

    Dec 21, 2006 | 6:29 pm

     
  8. Mandy says:

    MM, i wish you posted a bigger picture of the menu! ;P so hard to squint–heehee. i wish i was even half as patient and dedicated to being the most gracious host. with the very pretty table settings, place card/cookie, delicious looking dishes. and the wonderful dessert! reading this post must’ve given me 1million calories. merry christmas!

    Dec 21, 2006 | 8:25 pm

     
  9. millet says:

    ooooohhhh…peace on earth, goodwill to men, indeed!

    Dec 21, 2006 | 9:54 pm

     
  10. bembet says:

    i am deperately looking at your noche buena feast and i can’t wait to get your recipes for themcoz i will do my last minute shopping for my noche buena for my family tomorrow!!!looking forward to it.i love your blog!!!!

    Dec 22, 2006 | 12:59 pm

     
 

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