A Christmas Dinner, The Meal (Part III)


Our first holiday dinner was relatively simple, and as such, the main course had to be pretty good. My photos of the meal are horrific, as I was prepping the dishes and doing the final cooking and slicing and nearly forgot to take snapshots with my camera. I don’t like to take photos at the table when there are guests and dinner is being served, so you may just have to imagine some of the meal… First off, I completely forgot to take photos of the appetizer plate, made up of of a few slices of prosciutto di Parma, a little wedge of grana padano cheese (similar to parmiggiano reggiano) and about two tablespoons of a shaved fennel and orange salad. This was served with a Prosecco that was light and fruity and a nice alternative to a more classic champagne.


Activity in the kitchen was quite subdued, with most of the prepwork done way in advance, earlier in the day. It was mostly about assembling the plates and I left “guides” of the plating taped to the wall of the kitchen. I usually do one sample plate that is then replicated and served, the sample plate ending up with me, so I get the “oldest” or least hot dish as a result, to ensure that the guests get the freshest dishes possible.


After the appetizer plate, we served HUGE bowls of a deconstructed cioppino, a tomato based broth with lots and lots of already peeled seafood and a basil oil drizzled over it all. This is a HORRIBLE photo of the dish, but it tasted terrific. A guest brought FABULOUS fresh diwal (they were still alive) flown in from the South and we baked them and added them to the side of the soup course. I may do a separate post on the diwal. This was served with some crusty french bread (heated in the oven) and several of the guests asked for seconds of this course, and many wiped their bowls clean with the bread, always a good sign for me… The soup course was then followed by some slices of beef tenderloin (actually, the fillet mignon) which I had “dry-aged” a bit in the fridge, and a day before cooking, treated to a salt brine that was counter-intuitive but worked brilliantly. The meat was rubbed with salt and left exposed to the elements in a cold fridge for roughly 30 hours and the result was a VERY flavorful and succulent piece of steak… This was served with a rich bacon, port and shallot sauce, some slowly caramelized organic baby carrots, and mashed potatoes with extra virgin olive oil. A salad course was nixed when a poll resulted in groans that everyone had had more than enough to eat, and we hadn’t reached dessert yet!


With the slightly spicy soup we had a Clos Henri Pinot Noir from New Zealand, and with the main course, a wonderful Reserve de la Comtesse (Ch. Pichon Lalande) that was PERFECT with the beef course. Brought by one of the guests, the three bottles of Reserve de la Comtesse were savored by all who drank wine. A dozen guests (three or four of whom did not drink wine!) managed to finish 7 or 8 bottles of wine, so folks were generally happy… :)


Another horrific photo of the first dessert sent out… a poached bosc pear with mixed berry compote and some vanilla ice cream with lenguas de gato…


Some excellent mini-pecan tarts served with a rich cream, sent over before dinner by one of the guests. These had the perfect balance of sweetness and nuttiness and just the right size for a single serving…


And if that wasn’t enough, a terrific sans rival, also brought by a guest, to round off the dessert offerings. There was a chocolate cake as well, but I don’t think that even made it to the table that evening.


A box of Scharffen Berger dark chocolates brought by another guest were passed around during coffee and tea and folks lingered at the table to midnight as the candles burned down and their glow softened further.


19 Responses

  1. Wow, that definitely sounds like a wonderful evening! The desserts are my favorite part of the meal, but then again, everything looks so appetizing!

  2. drool…yum…and growl from my stomach… Picture or no picture the dinner I’m sure everything tasted great!

  3. everything looks terrific! amazing job, MM! you work like a pro, man! idol!!! what a coincidence, just this morning i bought a bottle of 1983 longueville cometesse de lalande as present for the 25th wedding anniversary of a relative. special wine for special people. i am sure the company you had at the party was truly special, too. merry christmas to you MM and to your family.

  4. Fabulous!!! I must say my stomach began to grumble when I saw the pics. Merry Christmas MM & Family. A suggestion you may want to serve the poached pear sliced on one cheek and fanning it. hope it helps!

  5. I can’t wait for the diwal write up! I have always enjoyed grilled diwal when I lived in bacolod, it is the sweetest shellfish I have ever had. That it is only available in the south is unique. Ihave lived abroad for over 30 years and yet I camnnot forget how heavenly grilled diwal is! several trips back home and I cannot find it anywhere.

  6. As ALWAYS, pretty darn classy, fine dining you held!!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Florida.

  7. perfect, i must say you are the male counterpart of Ina Garten so may I call you the Barefoot Count??? hehehe

  8. Naks!! fine dining indeed! more elegant than 5-star hotels.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS to you MR. MM AND to your family and staffs..and to all of your FANS!!

  9. MM,the printed guides make it so easy to remember on plating your courses.I don’t want to brag,but your writing justified my obsession with plating, since I even plan the plating weeks before I decide what kind of dishes I am serving.Flowers makes all worthwhile.It creates the ambience and of course your friends who has the same passion with food
    HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and your family

  10. Wonderful MM!!
    I laughed when I saw the papers taped to the wall. My children call me O.C. (Obsessive-compulsive) when I make instructions or diagrams like that before an affair. Hahahaha…I’m not alone!!

    Great food,great setup…love it….

  11. Diwal reminds me of my late father. He loved that so much and would always try to find ways to have that shipped from Zamboanga. It reminds him of his childhood kasi. Too bad it isn’t readily available in Manila. (or is it??)

  12. hahah.. i skipped the first 2 parts of your xmas dinner blog.. i just wanted to see the foods.. and in no disappointment.. i love them..looks really yummy, and i didn’t thought that there is actually a food setup guide for the cook? or whatever.. anyways…

    really great blog



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