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 16â€¦ Here is an overview of the menu, the dishes and a brief rundown of the eveningâ€¦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 pictureâ€¦ 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 beveragesâ€¦ After an hour or so and everyone had had at least a drink, we moved to the dining tablesâ€¦
I prepared two dishes for the â€œFirst Courseâ€â€¦ (these were originally supposed to be plated together but that seemed a bit â€œbusyâ€ so I opted to separate the service). First 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 Marketmanâ€™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 dishâ€¦ 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 guestsâ€¦too stressfull! But I can tell you the pairing of mangosteen jam with foie gras was truly inspiredâ€¦ 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 futureâ€¦
With my role in the kitchen for the evening over, my crisp white apron discarded and enjoying my abused duck liverâ€¦the main buffet was set-up. First there was the Angus Rib Eye Roast with a Red Peppercorn Crust (did you know red peppercorns arenâ€™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 fatâ€¦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 vegetableâ€¦ steamed then buttered asparagus with parmesan cheese. The key to this meal was to take it slowlyâ€¦to savor the different meats with their preferred partners and to balance the flavors, textures, creaminess and richness of it allâ€¦
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 in 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 dâ€™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), letâ€™s just say folks were feeling happyâ€¦
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 CrÃ¨me (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 serving platter after it had been decimated by guests. This plate alone must have been a good 10,000 fat caloriesâ€¦ 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 pointâ€¦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 courseâ€¦
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) that I made earlier in the day and garnished with candied violets. This was served with a Callebaut chocolate pots de crÃ¨me (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 Warreâ€™s Special Reserve Port. Guests certainly looked happyâ€¦and they had this â€œohmygosh, I will explode soon look” on their faces.
Some freshly brewed coffee, a selection of teas and that would hopefully â€œmeltâ€ some of the food that they had just ingested over the past two hours. But wait, there is that last, final touchâ€¦ two pounds of assorted La Maison du Chocolat chocolates for anyone that needed one or even two more sweet(s)â€¦ 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 upâ€¦