Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The office Christmas party...a veritable food FRENZY!

Well, its that time of year when everything turns into a party, or a get together, or a "quick drink". So far I'm loving it, but am finding that I'm hankering for a week off just to be still. However, before that stillness begins, I've given myself a good shaking up (and 24 hours of motion sickness) by living it up at the office Christmas party! Wow, what a day. We hired a big catamaran from McMahons Point, which had a great sized cabin space with table, two boom nets on the front to sit on and be splashed, and two benches slung off the back of the boat to sit on over the water. Very civilised ! We all made our way down to the wharf for the early morning sail. Down the stairs ...there was LOTS of them, believe me. All of us lugging food and our needs for the day. Once we got comfy, the organiser arrived then ...we all traipsed back UP all those stairs again to unpack the liquid refreshments for the day. Then, once again, down we came, this time with precious cargo on board, it was hard balancing a box of champagne whilst blindly tottering down the steep steps in my sparkly sneakers (white soled of course). Finally all was unloaded and had to be put on the boat. Ready to roll, we all jumped on board and grabbed our seats ! POP! First champagne bottle was opened, and it was only 9.15am! We motored out of McMahons point past Luna Park, then under the majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge checking out the installations for the NYE fireworks as we passed. We headed off through the harbour, past the Opera House, past Fort Denison, and out towards Manly. We were going to park the boat near Quarrantine beach, but once we got out there, George the English boatman made the suggestion for a smaller, more sheltered beach nearby instead (can't remember the name), which was simply divine. The water was shimmering green, and very very clear. We couldn't wait to strip off and jump in. Some walked down the ladder, some jumped of the back of the boat, some off the railings and SOME did the cannonball BOMB from the bow railings! You can always tell what type of person you are dealing with by the way they enter the water..he he. I was a cannonball and scream type of entry - make your own mind up. Those poor jellyfish didn't know what hit them. Most of us just bobbed about, I'm not sure if it was the salt or the jellyfish that kept us afloat but not much effort was required to just loll there enjoying the soft lift of the water. Some snorkeled, picking up oyster shells and a cigarette lighter (!) and other more energetic types did a quick lap to the beach and back. We had a ball, and it was a great way to cool off. There was lots of small sailing boats out on the water, so there was plenty to see, but it was still quiet and calm so was lovely and relaxing. Back on the boat, we headed off for Clark Island where we were going to set up lunch. We found a nice table on the lower level of the island (later on we found a beautiful shady spot on the top of the island but would have had to cart all the gear up to it) and started unfolding the feast. Entree was Julie's Vietnamese style duck and vegetable rolls. They went down a treat. Two types of dipping sauce, one mild and one HHHOOOOOTTTTTTTT. The mad greek made the worlds biggest Moussakaaaaaaaaaa. Layers of lamb mince and veg, phwooar it was beautiful. I rolled out my Asian Poached Chickens (recipe later), a stunning caramelised onion tart, Greek Salad, Morrocan Rice, a honey/mustard glazed ham, using Donna Hay's recipe, and quiche. That was mains covered. After we had eaten our fill and had a quick game of island cricket, we came back for the worlds greatest "pav-off". Both B and Sal brought Pavs. Sal had slow baked her meringue base, and B had picked up a base on the way down to the boat. Both had assorted fruit to decorate. With the crowd egging them on, they began a race, it was all a bit "masterchef pressure test" really. Those that weren't in the pav-crews were cheering and shouting, whilst the ladies commenced their chopping frenzy. Fruit was flying, but both teams worked like well-oiled machines. Blueberries were plonked, strawberries were sliced and placed delicately, mango (it took 2 attempts) was sloshed here and there, and the peace de resistance was the grated cadbury on top of Sal and Julie's team pav. Whilst all this was going on, the boys just stood back in awe, safe from the frisson, but salivating in anticipation of the tasting! Both teams did a sterling job and both pavs were magnificent! You would imagine this would be enough food but of course, we had to push the envelope a little more. Lolly long-legs had baked a fantabulous cheesecake with strawberry/jelly topping. It looked pristine and stunning in its that got a good schelacking too! Not forgetting Jen's scrummy shortbread biccies which were eaten on the way out to Clark island. We all want the recipe for them, they looked so cute and christmassy, and didn't last long. That had to be it. We lolled about a bit more, took another dip in the harbour with the cityscape stretching behind us. I had just read about the shark at Balmoral beach in the paper that morning so did have the odd thought about what lurked beneath us, but the water was just too tempting and the temperature was divine. We could see maxi-yachts out doing test runs, and the jet boats from circular quay came out as far as where we were and for those wanting slower viewing, there was that great big rust bucket the Jewel of Safala being turned in the harbour by 3 tug boats. There was something for everyone to see and do. Sated and happy, we called George to bring the boat back, and scurried on board to take advantage of the 25 knot winds that had come up. We put the sails up and took off with most of us having a turn of steering (under the watchful eye of George). The mad greek and I took a more passive position and sat on the front of the boat's boom nets dangling our feet in the water as the boat bobbed up and down in the swell, it was great fun and the splashes kept us cool for the afternoon. Gee it was a great day out and the great food just added to that. Back on dry land again, we were glad we ate so much out at sea because then we didn't have to lug it all back up those steps again! Ahh..what a day. And now, as promised, the recipe for my Asian Poached Chicken - this is a great recipe to bring to any party or picnic:
1.5 kg free-range chicken
1 cup light soy sauce
1 cup rice wine
1 cup water
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup honey
4 whole star anise
3cm piece ginger chopped

Rinse chicken and fit snugly into a saucepan. Pour wet ingredients over chicken and add spices to pan. Cover saucepan and bring to the boil (takes about 5 minutes), then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer gently for 1 hour. Turn halfway through cooking. Remove to a large bowl and leave chicken to rest in juices for 10 minutes (I have left mine to cool in the pan juices and this works fine). Cut and serve with rice and veg or salad. You can also take 2 cups of the poaching liquid, boil in a saucepan for 5-10 minutes until reduced by half and pour thickened sauce over the chicken pieces. Happy summer eating!


  1. Steady wind, good food, & adult bevies - works for me!!

  2. Excellent blog post with images of all the attractions in sydney and mouth watery images of food .

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful post with us.

  3. The food, the harbour, the photographs, what a perfect Christmas combination, no wonder you're pooped!

  4. How many people were there? I am seeing lots and lots and lots of food!

  5. Sounds like you had a fabulous Christmas party and a definite cut above one's normal, slightly tragic office Christmas party. And I love how you managed to sneak in a bit of Masterchef action in there too! :P

  6. There was 16 people, all very enthusiastic food and fun lovers it was a dead certainty that we had more than enough to eat and share. I have to say it was one of the higher rating end of year do's I've had ! it was a BLAST. HAPPY CHRISTMAS ALL!

  7. merry christmas dudes! hope you have an awesome day!

  8. What a great office Christmas party - looks like you work with a lot of talented cooks there!

  9. This is time for everyone to enjoy.