December 1st saw us having our last wine dinner for the year. This time we had wines from Wirra Wirra from McLaren Vale in South Australia. Around 50 people booked for the dinner which made the atmosphere a little more relaxed and intimate. Katie Gillet our rep from Negociants was on hand with Paul from Wirra Wirra, to give our diners the lowdown on the wines and some of the history of Wirra Wirra Winery. Our diners appreciate being able to get someone from the winery to give them as much information as possible.

Our menu was quite light and perfect for summer, even though the weather wasn’t quite summery.  Some are dishes were re-interprations of family Christmas dishes, some re workings of dishes I have had before, and a few first timers.

The wines for the evening
The restaurant set for the night, few Christmas decorations to set the mood

On arrival our guests had canapes with Mrs Wigley Grenache Rose 2011. Here is Rachel dishing up the bloody Mary shots (we like to be a bit silly in the kitchen).

Rachel getting the canapes ready

First course: Chilled cucumber soup with Morrocan prawns. A bit of a contrast here cooling chilled cucmber soup with some prawns dry marinated in Ras al hanout. Ras al hanout is the famous ‘top of the shop’ spice mix from Morroco, regarded as being a spice merchants best spice blend contianing upward of 20 ingredients. My recipe I put together has around 25. The soup was inspired by one I had at the home of the original Newcastle Pudding Lady Dawn Hodgetts. We served this with a beautiful crisp riesling ‘The Lost Watch’ Riesling 2009.

Chilled cucumber soup with Morrocan prawns. They seem to have sunk a bit.

Second course: Chicken and pistachio terrrine with tamarillo chutney. This is a dish I usually make several times over summer, be it for weekend lunches or a picnic. I paired it with a Kiwi classic, tamarillo chutney. I had wanted to make tamarillo chutney for our NZ wine dinner but unfortunately they were out of season back then. So I took advantage of them being in season to pair them as a chutney with this terrine. Paired with Scrubby Rise Unwooded Chardonnay 2011.

Chicken and pistachio Terrine with Tamarillo chutney.

Third course: Boudin of seafood on pea puree, lobster bisque sauce. I have been wanting to try making a seafood boudin for a while as it is something a bit different than your usual piece of fish for dinner. I made this with a mix of slipper lobster and 3 types of fish. This was quite popular, which is gratifying, certainly makes all that weighing and rolling worth while. Just a basic bisque sauce and some delicious pea puree( I would have liked a pie with the puree). This was paired with Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2011.

Boudin of seafood, pea puree and lobster bisque sauce

Fourth course: Inside out pork, apricot stuffing, roasted potao and pumpkin, wilted spinach and prune sauce. This is a re-interpretation of one dish we used to have every Christmas. Why is it inside out pork. Because the stuffing is on the outside, Mum uses a loin roast with the flap on to stuff. I also wrapped the lot in caul fat but after steaming it wasn’t noticeable. We kids used to think the pork with the prune sauce was a bit strange(prunes were for the oldies) but we ate it and really liked it. I don’t think it was quite as good as when Mum makes it but was close. I also had a brainwave last light while making it, soaking the prunes in a bit of armagnac would add another layer of flavour(my favourite quote is: add some alcohol, it might taste even better). Of course you can’t have pork without the crackling!! We matched this with Catapult Shiraz Viognier 2009.

Inside out pork with apricot stuffing, prune sauce roasted potato and pumpkin with wilted spinach.

And finally the best course, dessert. So as I was twisting things and expected it to be hot, I decided to do a Christmas pudding macaron, our guests got pudding but not in the usual sense. The Chrismas pudding macaron was a HIT, I reckon it was because of the high rum content. The berry timbale was quite refreshing, nice and light. The gingerbread people a memory of past Christmases. We had a lovely work experience student in this week who gave me a hand with the desserts and did a great job ‘dressing’ the gingerbread people. We matched this with Mrs Wigley Moscato 2010 which was also in the timbale.

Ginger bread person, summer berry timbale and Christmas pudding macaron.