So just as the shortest day and longest night has passed us by, we lament that we have not been so good as to post as often as we would like.
I blame this fully on our work commitment (to our day jobs) that has left our other more fun activities of cooking, eating and writing to lag behind. Most days, we get home and have dinner just as the clock strikes 8pm. If we’re lucky, we would have had leftovers from the night before. If not, we order takeaway (oh yes!).
Weekends are our down time, but even then, The Boy still logs onto work and clocks in until the wee hours of the morning. Such is life. Work has taken over it all.
So whilst we reflect on our life goals and what is important to us, we remember times when days were brighter. The sun was out for longer, and we were able to put up a feast as below. We had time. We had motivation. We even put up two sessions (albeit we only cooked for 3 at a time).
We bring to you, Mad Genius Degustation a.k.a. Test Club (#testclub) from our humble kitchen. Throughout this Degustation, I played the role of the sous chef, sommelier, entertainer, front of house, dishwasher, pastry chef and tired wife.
The Boy took on the role of Head Chef.
One other point to make, we also did this on one of the hottest day of the year (with the oven and stove in use for most of the day, and the air-conditioning on all day) at 38 degrees Celsius. The electricity company must have loved us!
To welcome our guests (we first had Taz and Az for the lunch session; followed by Maz and Ewen for the dinner session), I made a quick 30 minute dinner roll (or as I like to call it, Cake-Bread) topped with ash and served it Echire butter. The rolls were fresh and warm out of the oven! Perfect start to the meal.
[Course 1: Edible Garden – Baby sweet corn, Asparagus, Dutch Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Pickled Radish, Edible Soil, Potato Puree]
*first session wine pairing: Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013, NZ
*second session wine pairing: Blind River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013, NZ
For the first course, The Boy really wanted to showcase local produce that were so full of flavour and colours during the height of summer. He also wanted to keep it fairly simple.
I loved how beautiful it looked and it certainly got some praise from our friends with the plating. The vegetables were simply cooked, maintaining their natural textures and freshness.
[Course 2: Slow Roast Pork Belly in Milk & White Wine, Tonkotsu Broth, Pickled Shiitake, Flowering Garlic Chives, Pork Crackling, Togarashi. Paired with All Saints Estate 2009 Sangiovese Cabernet, Victoria]
The second dish was my favourite. This generated a debate (in both sessions) about whether this would be the winning dish, or the third course. Personally, I loved this dish because it was so simple and clean to look at, yet so full of depth and complexity in its flavour.
The clear tonkotsu broth tricked you into thinking of a light flavoured soup, until you taste it. Blown away with the smokiness from the pork bones and bacon and intricate flavours, combined with the soft almost melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, which was also quite rich, it provided me with the perfect juxtaposed dish.
[Course 3: 12hr Sous Vide Pork Belly coated in Gula Melaka & Nam Jim Sauce, Spanner Crab Rillette in Daikon Sheet with Curry Oil. Paired with All Saints Estate 2009 Sangiovese Cabernet, Victoria]
This is an oldie but a goodie with a twist from The Boy. It’s one of my favourite dishes he makes, but as he served it after the first pork belly dish, it came to be a close second dish.
I’ll say that for the first pork belly, it was like falling in love. The excitement, the rush of adrenaline, the butterflies in your stomach. With the second pork belly dish, it was like meeting an old flame. Comfortable, still exciting, but less so. You know where you stand with an old flame.
As the twist, The Boy served the pork belly with a spanner crab rillette. Did it work? It most certainly did. We joked that this was the fine dining version of a surf’ and turf’ meal!
[Course 4: Beef Short Ribs with Porcini-Red Wine Glaze, Potato Puree, Chestnut Mushrooms, Roasted Capsicum, Leek Ash & Plum Powder]
*Night session had Sugar Snap Peas
Paired with Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2003, South Australia courtesy of Taz]
The last savoury course was a bit theatrical and a bit of fun. We had previously done something similar for ourselves (in terms of the effect), but it was fun to serve it up the same way for our friends!
Though the heat in the house didn’t help, I think I may have gotten smoke inhalation from this 😛 But the drama! Oh, so worth it!
Once the cloud of smoke dissipated (and shouts of “Again, again!”, benefits from serving this at the comfort of your own home), revealed a dark chunk of meat covered in the most delicious looking glaze. Mirror finish. Even Dulux would be jealous.
Though I didn’t get to sample this dish (as it’s beef), I hear from those that did, that it was fabulous!
[Course 5: Coconut Milk Panna Cotta, Pineapple & Rum Streusel, Pineapple Jam, Toasted Coconut Crumbs, Pineapple Powder. Paired with Brown Brothers Moscato 2012, Milawa]
For the final course, we decided to end with dessert. No, humour me. I wanted to end with a savoury, but apparently, that would have been too controversial. “What no desserts?!”
So hand-in-hand, The Boy and I worked on this dish. I baked the streusel (man it was good) and he made the panna cotta and the pineapple jam. Together we lovingly brought this dish to life 🙂
[Petit Fours: Blackberry Cubes]
We even catered for petit fours! How awesome are we? It didn’t really work though, as I don’t think we got the pectin measurement right, but it sure was tasty.
So at the end of the day, with very full bellies, we bid adieu to our friends and thanked God for the fact that the new home came with a dishwasher.
Then we sat back and reflected on the day and the ‘service’ and put some lessons into our mad kitchen experiment.
- The Boy needs to hurry with his prep time and also trust his sous chef in plating once he’s plated up for the first time
- If we hadn’t already, give even more respect to all chefs and wait staff in the industry (seriously, it’s hard work)
- Never ever sign up for any reality cooking show (as we will kill each other)