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Dinner Club ~ Retro French Style

3 Dec

A dinner prepared by Michele is always certain to be a very stylish affair….

The Menu

Gougeres with French Champagne
Ham hock terrine with herbs and cornichons
BBQ prawn, chorizo & potato bowls
Free range d
uck confit, quatre epices, creamed puy lentils, pickled pear
Bombe Alaska with cherry sorbet, cherry ripple ice-cream

Michele and Jon run a biodynamic farm Main Ridge Olives, producing amazing table olives. Michele comes from a food focussed family with a German background and has worked as a cook in Europe as well as on the Mornington Peninsula. She always puts so much thought into every small detail… a meal prepared by Michele is always stunning, thoughtful and delicious.

The inspiration for the menu was the Bombe Alaska dessert that Michele had her heart set on making. It took many nights of prep in advance, making 2 types of iccream and sponge cakes. It set the theme for the evening. Retro French.

A special guest for this dinner club was Michele’s sister, Brigitte. They seemed to have had a lovely experience planning and cooking together for this dinner.

There were so many highlights. One of them for me were the Gougeres, based on a Phillipe Mouchel recipe, they were the most divine puffs of air, matched to Egly-Ouriet champagne, which I believe was also from a bio-dynamic French vineyard. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then my whipping up many a batch since to much acclaim, then Michele & Brigitte & Phillipe… you should be flattered!

The confit duck was also very special, a rare breed, free range duck, c’est incredible! A lovely fresh salad of bitter leaves with a chervil and mustard dressing was the accompaniment.

My wine contribution, one of my most favourite wines from the Peninsula ever and one of the reasons we moved here. Nat and Rosalie White’s Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir. I wish I had a couple in my cellar to be able to pull out one slightly older! What a wine.

And now, for the Piece de Resistance! La Bombe. The Inspiration. Icecream centre and sponge in tact and perfectly turned out, plates at the ready.

Italian meringue whipped perfectly

Applied expertly

Michele really enjoyed wielding the blow torch, pretty impressive & dramatic results…

The anticipation…

The first cut

Perfection

Michele just raised the bar totally out of sight. This meal will be in memory as one of the truly great ones forever.

Damn. My turn next.

Dinner Club ~ Autumn

14 May

Autumn, a beautiful, rustic display of autumn’s colours & flavours set the scene

This balmy Autumn evening was our 7th dinner club, spread across 2 years, and it was Fi & Reid’s 2nd time hosting.  Fi is our resident food stylist, recipe developer and tester.  Superb presentation and a thoughtfully designed theme is a highlight of dinner at Fi & Reid’s . Fi also has a passion for homegrown, organic, seasonal & local produce which features in this menu. We are delighted to be her guinea pigs for her experiments.


The Menu

Quail eggs with dukkah
Local wild mushroom bruschetta w herbs & cheese
Rabbit broth
Slow cooked lamb w pickled quince & kale
White polenta
Roast baby vegetables
Poached pear with olive oil icecream

The secret ingredient for the night was verjuice. All dishes except the quail eggs used it. Fi was working on a project for recipes including verjuice, although she was very secretive about it, and I don’t think she even told us that on the night.

One thing Fi loves about Dinner Club is the shared appreciation of what it takes to plan, prepare and create a meal for a group of friends. I have peeled a few quails eggs in my day, and trust me Fi, I know how long it takes and how hard it is to not only peel them, but to peel them perfectly. Appreciated.

Wild mushroom bruschetta, topped with a mix of piquant blue cheese and marscapone.

Take one rustic platter… they looked beautiful. There was something very ‘fresh’ about the taste, not as oily maybe? Slight zing to them? Yep, it’s the secret ingredient of the night… verjuice, it really lightens it up, or a splash of lemon juice for a similar effect.

Rabbit broth. Fi had sourced an array of quaint vintage teacups to serve this flavoursome broth into, the slithers of rabbit could be prised out daintily with the wee forks.

Any Italians in the house? We need to stir the white polenta for 20 minutes.

Lucky we have Joe, the Italian wine guy, he stepped up to the plate.

Roasted baby beets and mixed heirloom varieties of small tomatoes with herbs

Piled onto the perfect polenta

The main course featured a long slow roasted shoulder of lamb, accompanied by Fi’s homegrown pickled quince.  A fresh handful of sauteed kale with red onion and a hint of chilli. Superb. Our contribution, this amazing bottle of Barbera from a special release range of wines from Dalzotto Wines.

For me, dessert was the dish of the night…. everyone was floored by this dish. Homegrown pears poached in verjuice, then roasted, served with olive oil icecream. The icecream was completely dairy free and amazing. Olive oil, egg & sugar. Maybe some other stuff too, but that’s the main part. So delicious.

Thank you Fiona & Reid for sharing the bounty of the seasons harvest with us.

Dinner Club ~ A Middle Eastern Feast

27 Nov

The conveners and inaugural hosts of our dinner club… Joe and Dee, have a deep passion for authentic food and superb wines. We have been delighted many times by the smallgoods & pickles Joe brings home from his Italian family, and gorged on Dee’s abundant Middle Eastern feasts. Their combined Israeli – Italian backgrounds mean that even the smallest catchup revolves around a banquet.

So Dinner Club with Joe & Dee is a guaranteed feast of food and wine. It all started beautifully on a balmy night overlooking the hill & the bay at sunset.

The Menu
Beef Carpaccio & radish remoulade
Ravioli w spiced lamb mince caramelised onions & pinenuts
18hour Goat, flame roasted eggplant, cardamon & honey yoghurt
Pomegranate & snake bean freekah salad
Main Ridge Dairy goats curd tarlet w cardomon & vanilla apricot icecream

Joe is also our inhouse wine guy. Some superb wines were selected to accompany this feast, Pizzini Nebbiolo, Vajra Langhe Rosso and Crianza Rioja.

This Dinner Club was so beautiful and abundant, but I was really disappointed in my ability to get nice photos. It inspired me to think a little more about the way I take photos, in the hope I could do the people and food justice.