Six friends and myself decided to spend the New Years Eve together. The conditions were that we should make some food together and we decided to make dishes that we normally do not do and that preferable should be a little bit out of our comfort zone. More specifically, the “constraints” were that every person should be responsible for two dishes and two matching wines.
Since I have the most equipped kitchen we decided to be at my home. However, since both my kitchen is small and we at least had 14 dishes, we were forced to prepare the dishes in advance as much as possible. To get some diversity we had a lot of interaction prior to the actual dinner and when I summed everything up I understood that no more first- or main courses were needed. And by the way, neither no more desserts… However, this suited me well so I instead opted to go for some more “entertaining” small dishes. I ended up making nine small “dishes”.
This is what we had:
“Egg sunny-side up”:
The “egg yolk” was actually a reverse spherification of mango and the “egg white” was made of vanilla yoghurt, milk and agar-agar. The mango was not completely mature and it therefore had a hint of a fish taste that consequently made this dish more fun than good…
Walnut in a Box:
This is a small dish “designed” by Albert and Ferran Adria labeled “Lacquered walnuts in Manitol” (consisting of walnuts, dextrose, powdered freeze dried strawberries and Manitol). Personally I think it was a little bit too sweet (on the other hand you could apply less…).
Another dish originally created by Ferran Adria, the transparent raviolis became an icon of the elBulli menu in 2009. The transparent and ultra thin “ravioli”, which looks more like a thin plastic wrap, dissolves in the mouth instantly and releases the contents of the ravioli. The disappearing transparent raviolis are made of oblate, an ultra-thin and transparent film made of potato starch and soy lecithin that instantly dissolves as they get in contact with water. My raviolis were filled with freeze dried raspberries and pineapples.
Now we also popped our first Champagne, a 1996 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. This was my very first mature 1996 Champagne I have tasted and fact is that it may even have been a little bit over the top. That said, this 96 Winston Churchill was really good!
This is yet another recipe from Ferran Adria and elBulli. The “spaghetti” was made of jellified Parmigiano-Reggiano whey using agar-agar (as the jellifying agent). Served on a plate sprinkled with freshly grated cheese, lemon zest, a few drop of olive oils and a balsamic reduction.
Scallops with Raspberry Espuma:
The scallops were prepared in a sous-vide water bath set to 43C for 20 minutes. Hot quick fry in a frying pan to get the Maillard effect followed this. The raspberries were first run in a blender and secondly centrifuged (to get rid of the pulp). The raspberry juice was then turned to a broth by adding fructose and Malic acid. The broth was finally blended with some Xanthan Gum and put in a Siphon and charged with two nitrous dioxide cartridges.
Green Tea Matcha Sponge Cake:
Created by the help of a Siphon, a paper cup, a pair of scissors and 50 seconds in a microwave… The microwave sponge cake is yet another “invention” from the Adria brothers and elBulli.
Four small beetroot servings consisting of Foie Gras, Gruyere, Hazelnuts and finally a beetroot meringue.
To this a 1996 Cuvée William Deutz Rosé was served. Ironically this was my second matured 1996 Champagne which vintage I never would have guessed. Also, I could not identify that this was a rosé though it was very pale. Good!
Goat Cheese Soufflé a la Alain Roux:
A very good soufflé made of Chevre, Parmigiano-Reggiano, shallots and garlic. Paired together with a 2011 Jean Paul Brun Terres Dorees Fleurie. This was a Beaujolais (made of the Gamay wine grape) that matched the Goat Cheese Soufflé very well. I never drink this kind of wine normally and was totally lost when I tried to find out what it was…
White asparagus with prosciutto and balsamic vinegar:
The balsamic vinegar sauce had a very good acid that matched the Champagne served, namely a 1990 De Saint Gall Cuvée Orpale Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs.
A good Seafood Mousse made of shrimps and Maine lobster together with a sauce of tarragon, cress and stock made of among other things the Lobster shells. This was served with a good match, namely a 2011 Domain Pinson Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos (dry, taste of yellow apples and I thought it had a touch of smokiness but maybe it is more correct to label that as a mineral).
Granny Smith Sorbet:
Appreciated fresh sorbet made with a Pacojet.
Monkfish and Parma ham:
The monkfish was first brined in a 10% salt bath for about an hour. Since monkfish could be quite “rubbery” I used a Meat Tenderizer (by Jaccard) rather extensively on the fish meat. The monkfish was then put in a sous-vide water bath set to 60C until the core temperature reached 38-39C. Then fried in a hot pan for the Maillard effect. I have to say that I think the monkfish turned out very good. That said; we served Parma ham to the monkfish that is good well-known match. However, the Potato puree al la Modernist Cuisine did not work out that well (too “runny”) and I am not sure what went wrong, maybe the potato variety used?
A 2006 Hirtzberger Honivogl Grüner Veltliner Smaragd was served to this dish, which I think was a good match. One of the best Grüner Veltliner from a very small wine-yard (i.e. Honivogl), where all grapes are handpicked.
Mushroom risotto and truffle:
A well-made and tasty mushroom risotto prepared of the famous Acquerello Carnaroli rice. A 2011 Riesling Spätlese trocken (Erdener Treppchen) from Weingut Lotz was served to the risotto.
At 00.00 a clock 2014 we popped a 1998 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, which I think, is a decent start of the New Year…
Mini Burger with Foie Gras á la Robuchon:
Maybe the best burger I ever had and at the same time my first dish of 2014! The burger itself was made of veal, beef chuck and short ribs and served with a fresh Foie Gras mousse and homemade ketchup and finally topped with a fresh slide av Foie Gras. The bun was a brioche of sourdough and sesame. Not only influenced by Joël Robuchon but also from the “Hestonburger” where Heston Blumenthal suggests that you grind the meat (twice…) and then align the strands in parallel… Paired with a 1997 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Monier De La Sizeranne.
Beef Wellington with Pommes Duchesse:
Yet another well-prepared and tasty dish! Beef Wellington with Pommes Duchesse (filet of beef wrapped in Serrano ham with chestnut mushrooms and hazelnuts). Served with a 1991 Domaine Taupenot-Merme Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Bel Air. Good and mature Bourgogne.
Provençal Rack of Lambs:
The lamb was prepared sous-vide at 55C and my initial thought was that the racks should not spend more than two hours in the water bath. However, since we were quite delayed it ended up spending four hours in the bath but turned out absolutely perfect! Lamb served together with root vegetables and a olive-butter made from Kalamata olives (tasty!). Paired with a nice 2011 Louis Jadot Echezeaux Grand Cru, which I thought was much older than its present age (surprised to drink such a pleasant Bourgogne at such a young age).
A small pre-dessert consisting of an ice cream stick of saffron and vanilla.
Bailey’s Panna Cotta:
Bailey’s Panna Cotta covered with chocolate; a classic dessert! Served with a fantastic 1990 Chateau d´Yquem that was my favorite wine this “evening” and considering all the top wines we had during the dinner, that says a lot!
At this time (about four a clock in the morning…) I did not thought I could take another dish but that was not a problem with this lovely cake (which I unfortunately do not have a picture of)! Served with a 2008 José Maria da Fonseca Moscatel de Setúbal.
Coffee, Tea and Petit Four:
Petit Four consisted of Macaroons á la réglisse flavored with licorice and a lemon Grenache and bonbons of Valrhona chocolate and Cointreau (some made in lipstick molds). Now, at about 04.30 (AM) we opened a Bruno Paillard Brut Millésimé Magnum from 1979. I would never have guessed that this Champagne was from 1979 though it was “full of life” and this, again, proves that Magnum bottles make a hell of difference.
Now about five a clock the dinner could be considered ended. However, at about 7:30 (AM) the last Champagne was popped, a Tarlant QV Discobitch that regardless of its name was not that bad at all.
Picture gallery of all the wines we had (press one to enter gallery mode):
To summarize: a very good way to celebrate New Years Eve with some friends! The food itself was mostly very good and the wine pairing was also equally great! If we consider just the wines, that were all served blind, the “wine tasting” parts of the dinner hold a very high standard. Apart from personally having prepared the dinner for many days and hours (which also is true for many of the other persons attending the dinner), I started the preparation this particular New Years Eve at 10 (AM) and the guests arrived at 16:00, which also could be considered the starting time for the dinner. Reflecting that the last dish was finished about 05.00 (AM) the following morning and the last Champagne ended about 08:00 (AM) this is not a dinner you host on a daily basis… That said; this was a very successful and fun New Years Eve that I happily repeat!