Part 1: Dinner at Etch.
Circumstances having kept us from organising our annual (birthday) degustation dinner earlier in the year, we settled on this well frequented venue. Entering via a recessed doorway in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel, we meet up with friends in a small waiting area populated with low lounges. The dining room looks busy and well patronised.
The food is certainly well presented, each dish was a work of art and we almost felt guilty hoeing in.
This night, the menu consisted of:
Beetroot cured Petuna ocean trout, horseradish cream, baby beetroot.
Duck Terrine, pickled cherries, coffee reduction.
Next came the Pan roasted Queensland scallops, cauliflower puree, bahji with curry oil.
Again beautifully presented but the degree of cookedness of the scallops varied from dish to dish. Mine were a little overcooked for my liking but the bhaji was an interesting crispy addition.
Then: Caramelised pork belly, rhubarb, kohlrabi puree.
The stand-out element of this dish wasn't just the citrus-y sauce which was daubed, paint like around the plate but the pig's ear! This little morsel of crispyness tickled our fancy, possibly because we didn't expect to like it but secretly I'm glad it wasn't ear-shaped!
While the above were beautiful and light, there was quite a wait for the next course and just as we were starting to wonder whether we were going to walk away hungry, we were all relieved when the Slow Cooked Spring lamb, carrot puree, mint & potatoes arrived. Almost as a visual representation of our need for something substantial, the dish which arrived tossed away the art and came as a stew.A meal is not complete without dessert and this meal comes with a pre-dessert of a (cherry/strawberry/rhubarb (it went down so quickly that we didn't really stop to take notes!)) sorbet sitting on a disc of marshmallow with a compote of cherries & citrus peel.
Crackers accompanying the cheese plate.
The Lolly Plate consisted of Violet Poprocks, Fruit Cake Brownie, White Christmas and a white chocolate log type thing, all of which I stayed away from as I'd already had an adverse reaction to the dessert.
We started the meal at 7.30 pm and didn't waddle out until midnight. Our advice? Plan to take the day off afterwards! : D
Part 2: Christmas Day
This year, the family Christmas was spent at the parental home of Shanks and Lobo. As usual, they put on quite a spread while everyone contributed what turned into an international smorgasbord of dishes in which we could only make a dent.
The rice which went with the Sashimi Salmon which I forgot to photograph!
For a touch of Europe, Wag made a Quiche Lorraine and Yaya made a Beetroot Carpaccio with Labne.
And a refreshing Julienne of Peppers, Cucumber & Carrot Salad.
Courtesy of 8 year-old Wagson, are we the only family who start Christmas Lunch off with a Powerpoint presentation?! :D
Part 3: Boxing Day Lunch
Knowing that we'd all be suffering from an excess of food, my goal for Boxing Day lunch this year was to keep it light.
We started with a cold Cream of Zucchini soup served in miniature shot glasses.
On the table was a Roasted Garlic & Cannellini Bean dip with Garlic Bagel Toasts and Tortilla Chips
Next course was Heart Shaped Potato Cake with Dill Mascapone wrapped in Smoked Salmon with a Salmon Roe garnish.
Third was a Polenta Cake, Lamb & Pea Puree Tower with Petrified Beetroot. This was inspired by an hors d'oeuvre I experienced at Christmas drinks earlier in the year. Mine weren't quite as delicate as the original but with a little prep, they weren't hard to do.
For the mains, there was a selection of roast meats:
Fillet of Pork En Croute, normally done with Salmon or Lamb, I decided to try this with pork as we already had both other dishes. The pork was amazingly tender while being fully cooked. It tended to fall apart when served straight out of the oven so I would probably try chilling it and serving it cold next time.
We also had a Chicken Curry courtesy of Wag's Mum (a great use of Christmas Day leftovers we suspect)!
In the salad department, Yaya made Rocket with Fried Haloumi and more of the Beetroot Carpaccio.
We didn't feel the need to add more vegetables to the mix as I had lots of "hidden" vegetables what with the soup and the pea puree as well as dessert! All will be revealed shortly! Well, how about now?!
This year I was trying to make a dessert which everyone, specially those with a dairy or egg allergy could eat. My Sweet Potato Tartlets with Optional Palm Sugar Whipped Cream were served on a Chocolate Ripple Biscuit Crumb base which was made with a non-dairy margarine. Unfortunately the kids for whom I made these refused to try them! Never mind, the adults seemed to enjoy them anyway and you can make them as sweet or non-sweet as you prefer!
Yaya made a delicious adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Mother In Law's Madeira cake.
And for those who can never get enough, Scoop of Vanilla with Espresso Soil!
As much as I'd like to say that was it, we couldn't resist the opportunity to try our newly acquired ...
Yes folks, 200 gm of 60% pure Plaistowe Dark (it was all we had in the cupboard), a bowl full of marshmallows and fruit, some skewers and it kept us amused for quite some time.
Even so, when Lobo whipped out these Effervescent Cupcake Drink Tabs, we just had to see if they lived up to the claim. The short answer is "maybe". We think we added too much water although Yaya swore she could taste cupcake in it.
What a way to end the year, you think? Nope, coming soon, New Year's Eve lunch at Ad Lib Bistro! In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR! : D