When old friends catch up, it's more about the conversation and laughter than the food but there's no denying that good flavours make an occasion fly.
They are an easy crowd to please but the first hosts in this birthday lunch series, Michelle and Vicki, are big food acts to follow. I pulled out all stops and drew from my favourite food friends to create a Sunday lunch for eight.
We started with a selection of cheese with accompaniments and dips instead of an entree. I find that while most are hungry for lunch, the gathering starts best when people can move about quickly to catch up on all the news.
My cheese came from The Cheese Pleaser stall at the Red Hill Markets which was my first up call for the morning to also buy fresh flowers and bread. I purchased one of their cheese boxes which came with everything in the box below - Javier Codina's apple and walnut chutney, biscuits, and the cheese - all for $40. There was also some of Javier's Romesco sauce to spread on the bread and his spiced olives.
I put my cheese platter together with some accompaniments from On the Side - Muscatel grapes and slices of dried apple.
From Paddington Epicerie I had slices of wagu bresola and Goralie ham topped with sliced salame classico from Salumi Australia.
The main meal was served family style so everyone helped themselves from platters on the table.
Starring was black sesame roasted pork roll with miso caramel from the winter edition of Donna Hay Magazine which was served with miso caramel sauce. This was a huge hit with my guests and I scored double points because the fish sauce in the recipe was from a factory I visited in Thailand - top that Paul! The pork was free range from RSPCA accredited Gooralie at Goondiwindi, bought at Meat at Billy's.
I used a Lyndey Milan recipe from her book, Taste of Greece. Bandit's Goat can be made using lamb or goat but I wanted to make this a lunch about pushing boundaries. Unfortunately the goat wasn't as tender as it could have been because I failed to keep the temperature in the Webber low enough. I planned to cook the pork in the oven and ended up switching them over which was not a total success. I'll have to find a different solution next time - suggestions welcome.
The gratin was cauliflower, sage and cheddar; another easy recipe from Donna Hay in the same edition. I sliced a whole pumpkin and baked it with a maple syrup glaze finish.
Salads were courtesy of Jamie Oliver's Jamie's 15 Minute Meals - blue cheese, hazelnut and apple with spinach and a Sicilian shaved fennel salad. I doused them with a delicious dose of Cobram Estate First Harvest olive oil.
Now to dessert - what a hit this was! I've been wanting to try the Twix cake at Chester Street Kitchen since I saw it in their cabinet weeks ago. I found the idea of chips on a cake intriguing and so did my guests. Chester Street Kitchen owner Damian Griffiths says the cake was inspired by David Chang's mumofuku milk bar in the New York, with a Chester Street spin.
Thank you to my lovely friends for making this such a special day. I've known you all for many years and you are the best! xx
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was gifted the Twix cake by Chester Street Kitchen.