I was cleaning up my photos today when I came across these pictures. They’re of a degustation dinner party I did, back in 2009. In around 2005 a couple of friends, hubby and I found a restaurant that made degustation dinners. We’d never had one before, and we fell in love with them. Now they seem all the rage, and I’m not surprised.
If you’ve not heard of them, where have you been? They’re a whole bunch of dishes that the chef considers worthy of a grand feast. We don’t go out much so we save our restaurant visits for special nights out. Going down the local just never happens at our place.
We’re so lucky we have a group of friends that love food as much as we do. I love a good party, including all the research that goes into them to make them fun events. We did this one on our beautiful deck at our old place. I decided to call it Deck’adence, do you get it?
Molecular gastronomy was becoming all the rage, so I added a few bits and pieces to excite the guests.
Ok so the menu doesn’t tell you everything, but I wanted to surprise the guests with some of the courses. This is how they played out.
An amusing little thing that Ferran Adrià from El Bulli in Spain came up with. Now, most chefs when they concasse a tomato they’ll blanch, peel and remove the seeds. They then throw out the skin and the seeds, But! Did you know if you take the little ball of seeds from a vine-ripened tomato, place it on a serving spoon, drizzle it with a touch of fresh, excellent quality olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of pink Murray valley sea salt they turn into something that has an incredible flavour. Well, believe me, it couldn’t be easier to do, and it tastes brilliant.
Cured Salmon ice-cream cones:
I love cured salmon. You can cure it as I did or just buy some cured or smoked salmon. Both would work a treat. I wanted to add a little fun to this course. Going with these salmon ice-cream cones was a huge hit. To make the ice-cream cones I used a wonton type pastry, cut and folded it around metal cream horns and deep fried them till crisp. The little biscuits were made similar to one of my cracker recipes, and the filling is of cured salmon and homemade cream cheese topped with salmon caviar.
Soup and Bread:
The soup is pumpkin served with a blue cheese foam, pepitas and a long crouton. I don’t think they needed too much bread here and the soup is served in an espresso glass so only a taste. Little courses cause there’s so much more to come. 😉
After that, I thought a palate cleanser would be appropriate. Watermelon, Kiwi fruit and blood orange sorbet. Worked a treat.
Spiced squid served with a pear and smoked almond salad. The dressing was smoked a little as well. Yummy.
Back to the fun
This tomato looks innocent enough. It seems as though I’ve just threaded a cherry tomato with a couple of basil leaves onto a skewer, doesn’t it? Well sort of, before threading I dipped the tomato into some melted isomalt and let it set. A clever little trick to play on the guests because when you pop it in your mouth to bite it, it cracks open lite a toffee apple. I used isomalt for the sugar so it wouldn’t be too sweet. Had the guests guessing. 😉
Scallops served on a bed of stir-fried greens and shitake mushrooms.
Sweet Spiced Duck:
Yep, that’s me. I’m plating up the Sour Cherry, Spiced Duck. They loved it and wanted more. Silly billies they didn’t know what was still to come.
A Chef friend of mine (Rob) told me about these little beauties. I thought a palate cleanser disguised as a lollypop would be useful here. They’re pretty smart, you take a decent wedge of kiwi fruit and dip it in sugar syrup and freeze. Repeat the dipping 3 or 4 times, and they’re very delicious and gets you ready for the next course.
Oxtail ravioli served on a bed of parsnip and potato mash and veal jus. The little balls on the plate are zucchini balls. No zucchini don’t have balls; I made them with a mini melon baller. My guests couldn’t work out what sort of vegetable they were. heheeee
This was one of the dessert dishes I planned. I know some people don’t like coffee, so I had another up my sleeve with the fruit platter. Chocolate fondant, white chocolate ice-cream and espresso pearls for the chocolate and coffee lovers.
Well not exactly, it was a Strawberry, and Pineapple splice served with champagne macerated strawberries and a yoghurt foam.
I was a success, and I had heaps of fun feeding my guests. I hope I’ve inspired you to give something like this a go. You can make some things in advance, and once you get in the groove, it’s a lot of fun.
If you want to give a degustation dinner party a try, think of things that you can make in advance, things you can freeze or vac seal. On the night you only want to be warming or cooking off. Preparation needs to be done beforehand, and you’ll romp it in.