"Mix Match" because I was serving alcohol that is normally reserved for the end of a meal at the beginning and serving aperitifs at the end... and "Caramel" because there was a caramel theme to the food running through the evening.
"Caramelization occurs during dry heating and roasting of foods with a high concentration of carbohydrates (sugars)."
So 6 guests, 6 courses. Simple, no...?
The first course was croustillants aux legumes (grated vegetables (carrot, turnip and courgette) rolled into balls and then fried) with a blue cheese sauce. Because of the roquefort in the sauce, I paired it with a Sauternes 2005. Standard combination, slightly lacking in originality, but it whet the whistle and was a good introduction to those of my guests who hadn't tried Sauternes before.
|The croustillants once they'd been shallow-fried.|
|Caramelising the mango.|
There were two rounds - the first to see how well the dish went with what was left of the Sauternes in our glasses. Quite well really. The sweetness in the wine really brought out the sweetness of the mango. (N.B. Thank you for the suggestions and encouragement, Chateau Coutet and Sauternes Steve!)
By this time, I'd reckoned that we'd need something more refreshing to cleanse our palate, so I served a terrine of salmon and pink grapefruit, with sesame seeds and a hint of soy sauce, on a bed of rocket leaves, along with a glass of crisp Chardonnay.
I accept there are probably better matches for the wine to accompany this dish... but I chose a Pinot Noir, one from the Cotes d'Auxerre Burgundy area. I wanted something to balance and bring together all the elements of the dish and the subtlety and smoothness of this wine and it has to be said, this wine is pretty tasty. Medium bodied, deep ruby in colour, subtle vegetal notes on the nose, and complemented by some red fruit on the palate, low tannins, quite high acidity but oh so smooth... yum!
Moving onto puddings, the first was a mille-feuille of oranges. I made whisps of caramel by gently melting down sugar and drawing the shapes over some grease-proof paper.
This was great fun to make as it was just like painting with food, but it was time-consuming (because you can't leave the sugar - not even for a second!) and messy!
|Cleaning the pan was not easy.....|
|Plating up at the table. Apparently the acidity of the oranges will break |
down the caramel if they're left for too long.
Finally, the second pudding was a moelleux au chocolate, a chocolate pudding served in little ramakin pots, eaten as soon as it comes out of the oven. A dollop of vanilla ice cream and mmmmmmm....
Unfortunately this pudding really did get eaten the moment it came out of the oven and so I only have one very quickly taken photo. The quality of the photo is not the best, but I can tell you that they'd risen beautifully and had just started to crack on the top! This was served with a shot of espresso, to stand up to the dark chocolate as well as to be sipped while nibbling on the caramel.
Now, the burning question, is what shall I do for my next dinner party??