With DJ away and the house to myself for ten days, I'd decided to host an impromptu dining shindig at my place on Saturday night. I wanted to do three courses, but afternoon drinks at City Wine Shop (thanks, folks from I Eat I Drink I Work!) meant that I'd have practically no time to prepare. So I kept things easy and simple...
We started things off with a round of my house's signature cocktail - Year of the Rat. The Cafe Vue kids served it up as part of the February Cocktail Night, and DJ and I love it so much that last autumn it became our house cocktail: equal parts vodka and Pimms, ginger ale, slice of cucumber, a coriander leaf or two and a few drops of Tabasco. Try it!
First course was one of my current food obsessions, bresaola (bought at Delicatess at Prahran Market), which I served with shaved parmigiano reggiano, fresh rocket, pepper and a drizzle of EVOO. Served with slices of Phillippa's olive toscano which I'd briefly heated in the oven, like every good Italian girl should.
Technically our three course meal became a four course meal, cos Chrystal brought along a lovely salad we had as a palate cleanser before the pasta.
For pasta I did a simple Car Smash Pasta - no cream or tomato-based sugo, you just smash together lots of tasty ingredients with some olive oil to lubricate the pasta. I'd bought lots of very fresh oyster mushrooms at Damian Pike's, and added garlic, chilli, marinated Ligurian olives, fresh tomato and lots of baby spinach leaves. I used casareccia pasta - it's one of my favourite pasta shapes.
My only disappointment was the chocolate mousse. I'd been drawn to Nigella's recipe for instant chocolate mousse because it didn't include eggs, and one of my dinner guests is allergic to eggs. Instead of eggs it calls for marshmallows and promises to be really quick to prepare - "just so crazy, it just might work!" I told myself.
Alas, alack. The recipe may have its faults, but the real problem was me - ever absent-minded in the kitchen, I left the saucepan unattended and returned to find it bubbling much more than it should have. I salvaged most of it and served it topped with dried cranberries, but it wasn't exactly my finest dessert hour. My guests all ate it and said it was nice, but I'm pretty sure they were just being polite!
This morning I went with the family to Golden Dragon Palace for Fathers' Day Yum Cha - a 10:30am sitting, and we'd booked the last available table! - after a hasty early morning dash up to Swan Street to find a open newsagency that could sell me a copy of the new Good Food Guide (Dad's Fathers' Day gift every year)..
Golden Dragon Palace
363 Manningham Road, Lower Templestowe (map)
Dad had requested a yum cha restaurant that was out of the city for a change, preferably out in the Eastern suburbs, and we'd already tried Plume and Taipan (both booked out days in advance for Fathers' Day). I'd then remembered that Sarah had recently written a yum cha post on Sarah Cooks, so I reread it to look for tips. Adriana had commented that she liked Golden Dragon Palace, so we'd made a booking on the strength of her recommendation.
Thank you, Adriana! We'd just LOVED it, and may even go so far as to say it's our new favourite yum cha venue. Mum, Dad and Birdie put their collective foot down some time ago and refuse to let me photograph everything we eat at yum cha (the rotation of dishes is too high!), but this steamed scallop dumpling was outrageously good.
Check out those GIANT jin dui! To give you an idea of scale, some "normal" ones are just visible there on the right. They were like big beautiful sesame-covered softballs, and sadly we had reached yum cha capacity - had they come out earlier we would definitely have ordered some!