Once guests sat down at the dinner table, had a glass of champagne after a brief holiday toast, the meal began in earnest. The first plate served had “eight bites” of seafood and pickled vegetables, to awaken the palate. From the top left, heading clockwise, the appetizers included (a) large cross crabs or alimasag that were steamed earlier in the day, lump crab meat picked by hand, and mixed lightly and gently with a mayonnaise, lemon and tarragon dressing, served chilled and garnished with fresh tarragon (b) homemade salmon gravlax topped with salmon roe served with a little wedge of lemon and garnished with fresh dill (c) lightly pickled thinly sliced radishes and half a teeny weeny baby carrot and a few arils of deep red fresh pomegranate for color and texture (d) homemade boquerones on top of freshly roasted red capsicum or bell pepper, garnished with micro arugula (e) tuna tartare with a soy and sesame dressing garnished with toasted sesame seeds and minced chives (f) three kinds of pickled beets – red, golden and candy cane(?) (g) small mussels with a mustard and shallot vinaigrette served cold, garnished with flat leaf parsley and finally, (h) prawn cocktail on a tomato, horseradish, tabasco and lemon sauce garnished with purple basil.
The menu with the evening’s meal.
While guests were gathering, pica-pica included some sliced jamon serrano, three kinds of sausage (venison, boar and pork) we brought back with us from the Borough Market in London as well as mixed nuts, pistachios and macadamias (nuts not photographed).
We also had some of Marketman’s “adobo rillette” which is essentially 3-4 hour slow-cooked adobo served shredded with it’s own lard. Served on toast, it was utterly delicious but intensely calorific.
After the seafood appetizers, a hot appetizer plate included roasted organic/free range beef bone marrow served with a gremolata and pink hawaiian sea salt, a small ramekin filled with callos with beef and chorizo and topped with a bread crumb, parsley and parmiggiano reggiano mixture that was baked crisp and finally, an unusual but delicious oxtail marmalade. A pea shoot salad made with green and yellow pea shoots was added for color and to break the richness of all of these three dishes. Served with 3 pieces of toasted baguette, many guests took several more pieces of bread to finish off their plates. Honestly, we could have stopped here. But it was the holidays, so we continued on…
Next up, a half bowl of roasted butternut squash soup with chestnuts, olive oil, piment d’espelette and chopped chives. Rich but very satisfying. I tried to replicate a soup we had enjoyed immensely on our recent trip to Paris. It came pretty close, but the muddy color of locally grown squash can’t compare with the incredibly orange meat of the “potiron” in France.
The main course included oven-roasted prime rib, here already sliced. This particular roast was overcooked by say 10-15 minutes, the one on the following evening was more on point. I like the center of the roast to be rare rather than medium, but our meat thermometer seems to be playing tricks on me. We served this with a simple gravy from pan juices and beef broth and bit of roux.
Roasted potatoes with goose fat. Was originally planning to do a yorkshire pudding but there were too many things going into the single oven so I bagged that idea. My bucket list includes a double oven in our Manila kitchen eventually…
Haricots verts with butter and herbs, roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted asparagus to ease the guilt of eating so many other calorie laden dishes.
After a brief pause, we brought out the acacia board with five kinds of cheese, and lots of plump fresh dried fruit, also carted back from markets in Europe a couple of weeks beforehand.
A wedge of aged manchego with dried golden raisins, dried golden cherries and apricots scattered around the cheese.
A log of chèvre and a delicious stilton with dried figs and dried strawberries…
…and a double cream brie and a substantial cheddar that was just lightyears way better than any cheddar you can find from local sources. The pitted dates were also creamy and moist.
There were small creme brûlées, chocolate mousse, pecan hand pies and an apple crostata for dessert. Sorry, no photos of the first two items.
Some dark chocolate covered orange rind from Carpo in London, dare I say better than La Maison du Chocolat’s (our favorite until now) and cheaper to boot. Guests over two nights went through two boxes of these goodies.
The chocolate bark I wrote about a few posts back, along with the nut and seed salty/sweet brittle as well.
Pate de fruit or concentrated fruit essence with gelatin and sugar, just one is a herald of the holiday season (along with say the candied chestnuts or the chocolate dipped orange rind)…
Salted caramels, and if guests were up to it, we had cookie jars nearby with chocolate chip, chocolate shard with cacao nibs, gingersnaps and raspberry filled butter and almond cookies as well.
Guests at our second Holiday dinner (they were held on consecutive nights, to save on prep, flowers and crew effort) before we brought out the instant snow (yes, I made snow…), an xrated party favor and…
…some party poppers! I think we all had a really good time, and everyone left fed up. :)