There are quite a few things I want to post revolving around the McWilliams wine dinner we did, so I'll have to break them down into sections. This event was arranged through Gallo, and featured the presence of Phillip Ryan (chief wine maker for McWilliams wines) and Peter Howard (Australian food writer, chef, consultant, and overall great personality). It was an honor for both of these men to be here and experience our humble matchings to their wines. Wines from their Coonawarra series were amazing as we were able to taste them in the kitchen throughout the dinner. Both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Howard were admirable in their appreciation and kind words. It made our evening truly special.
The first is a showcase and summary of the 4 hors d'oeuvres that were passed during the preceding reception.
seared tuna and cucumber blocks with seaweed sauce and tobiko
These are cut cubes of English cucumber with seared tuna. We often use the pipettes on hors d'oeuvres and on the night before we had the idea of making a seaweed sauce to fill them with. I will post this recipe later (when I actually write one) because it came out very nice and the color is exactly what we wanted. The tuna is topped with a regular tobiko and a wasabi tobiko. As usual, the pipette acts as a skewer, and the guest is instructed to squeeze the sauce out into the mouth while biting into the food.
tasmanian devilled eggs with candied bacon
This was our moment of cheese... not dairy cheese, but corny cheese. We used quail eggs which were steamed, peeled, and stuffed with a simple devilled egg filling. The bacon was actually cured and smoked in a small butcher shop 2 blocks from my home. We sliced it, packed and pressed it into brown sugar, wiped off the excess sugar, and laid them out to bake until done. This is something we've done with regular apple wood-smoked bacon in the past. The nutty sweetness of the brown sugar obviously blends well with the smokey bacon. We served these in inverted egg cups.
duck liver pate with shiraz wine caviar
You can never go wrong with duck liver mousse. We simply cut these into cubes and topped them with an alginated shiraz wine caviar. The method and recipe for these is the same as in this previous post, but with shiraz wine substituted. To push the lost flavors that unfortunately happen during the algination process, Chef K coated them in a sweet shiraz syrup which was simply a reduction of shiraz and a touch of sugar. It also helps with the visual suggestion of caviar. We served extra 'caviar' in little jars on the dish a la 'El Bulli' style.
barbequed mussels with tandoori dressing
This mussel dish was a twist on one of Peter Howard's recipes for grilled mussels with a tandoori dressing. We basically copied his recipe then I infused it with the smoked juices released by the mussels during the process below. This is the same oven-smoking method I used on the lamb previously, but this one is unique in how it shows off my ability to operate a digital camera and a blow torch simultaneously.
The fresh dill helps to bridge the mellow smokiness of the mussel with the sharp tanginess of the dressing.
I have never tasted such happy mussels.