Holiday Dinners Circa 2014


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…

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…some party poppers! I think we all had a really good time, and everyone left fed up. :)


28 Responses

  1. You’ve really outdone yourself this time around. I doubt there’s a restaurant experience in this country that comes close to the quantity and quality of the dishes you served in this 1 night. Clap clap clap

  2. Awfully chintzy with the boquerones! I kid, I kid, but I’m sure I could have eaten a whole dinner plate of those, probably.

    Looks like a wonderful spread. The cheese course would have been my favourite aside from the boquerones. Good cheese is always a treat!

  3. I am totally overwhelmed by the menu!!! Lucky guests! Degustation to the max! I think the most difficult to prepare were the hot/cold appetizers. How many days in advance do you prepare for such elegant, classy dinners?

  4. Betchay, serious preparations started on a Monday afternoon… everything was scheduled by day… pickles, cookies, slow cooked items, defrosting of beef, desserts to chill, etc. I shopped, prepped and cooked for roughly 3.5 days to do this for two evenings. But there was lots of stuff leftover that we continued to use for other meals. If you are organized, it is a rather doable, and frankly, pleasurable process…

  5. Very inspiring…am starting to prepare for our New Year’s Eve gathering…MM sofrito cooked for 4 hours done….callos ox-tail and tripe cooking now…cheese and hams pick up on Tuesday…hubby peeps over and sees your posts and admires your food and now nagging me to have the leftover acacia wood we used for the kitchen ledge cut in half and sanded :-)

  6. Well done! Can’t imagine a better holiday meal anywhere.

    Next time, instead of butternut squash try using red kuri or hokkaido, same as potimarron.

    Every year from now on you will have to do a food shopping trip abroad right before the holidays. Love the appetizer selection and the cheese board.

    Happy New Year!

  7. How does one best one’s self? You just did MM and what a production….an epicurean feast!! You surely have fed up your guests:)

  8. Wow! MM, you truly amaze me! Hope you and the entire family, including Zubuchon staff and crew had a truly wonderful Christmas! Happy New Year in advance!! :) from London with Love xxx

  9. OMG! What a feast… the 1st thing that came to my mind was if I have to choose for my last dinner on earth, this will be it! Seriously, I’ll have this as oppose to say, Per Se!

  10. Dream dinner, to be sure !!! Such a pleasure to see this post. (the only thing I could duplicate here is the apple crostata – I made three of these for recent Christmas eve and Christmas day dinner)

    Happy new year to all !!

  11. The cheese,appetizers are to die for…Holiday meal that I am sure your lucky guest won’t forget.

  12. MM, sister and E couldn’t have raved any more about how fabulous an evening it was! Fabulous stuff! Merry Merry to you all.

  13. Splendid, splendid. Whose neck do I have to wring to score an invite? hehe. I’m still very intrigued by your adobo rillette. Will have to try to make it someday. Your cheese selection looked great as well. Manchego (especially 6-month) is on my top 5 cheese list. Not a big fan of stilton, although occasionally I enjoy this stilton with mango and ginger that they sell at Whole Foods.

  14. friedneurons, the cheddars from Neal’s Dairy were SUPERB. I often associate cheddar with the evil cheese food my dad used to have with his bananas for dessert when I was a kid, so it’s taken me 30+ years to appreciate their wonderful qualities. You must try the rilette, we had leftovers and Mrs. MM fried them until crisp and used them on a lugaw we made last night to rest from all the crazed eating…

  15. dianne, unfortunately, I totally believe we are depleting tuna stocks and should stop eating those species that need to have breathing room. Having said that, I do still eat tuna both fresh and canned, and should probably do that less often. Now if only they could farm them, but I think they need vast oceans to roam. It’s a real problem, along with some species of lapu-lapu locally, and other fish as well. If our archipelago had just 15-20 million people instead of 100+ million, perhaps the sea could continue to provide food without permanently depleting stocks. Or if I didn’t put out this much food at one meal for that matter.

  16. ohmygoodness how do we get in on a party like this …

    Happy Holidays, Marketman!

    Your fan,

    Margaux :)

  17. We are back in San Francisco. On the plane we recalled the dinner of a lifetime. Richard says its a highlight every three years that he is back. :-) I, however, can’t wait that long. See you next year and thank you for that fabulous meal and evening !

  18. Super delayed reaction to this post (the whole series since December 24th, actually!), but I just want to say: I would have been stuffed by the time I finished off the seafood and meat appetizers – with a glass or two of red! I don’t think I’d make it to the soup, hehe! I would, however, save space for a wedge or two of those potatoes in goose fat, and a few crumbs of the wonderful selection of cheese. Sinful, but what the hey… tis the season to be flabby!

    P.S. “Fed up” eh? *chuckle*



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