Doll Face

2008.Jun.05 Thursday · 3 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Drink, Food & Recipes

 Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

– Rosalind Russell, Actress

Buenos Aires – Private dinners at Casa S are becoming all the rage. It’s fun for us, and I think a great way for people who don’t have the space or inclination to have a dinner party at home, or wherever they’re staying, to do so. No fuss, no muss. In some ways it’s easier for us as well – often a smaller group than when we’re full for a “public” dinner, generally easier to manage dietary restrictions as we can plan the menu around the group’s desires, and because it’s a (usually) cohesive group, we get to know them a little better. On the other hand, of course, they miss out on the whole “meeting new people” thing that’s made us popular on our weekend nights.

Last night we hosted a half dozen gentlemen “of a certain age” as they expressed it when they contacted me. They’re in visiting from South Africa and wanted a place to just relax, have good food, and… camp it up a bit. Following on having read about our various centenary birthday dinners, the host had suggested that it was Rosalind Russell’s 100th, though it turned out to be her 101st. No restrictions on the menu, and with no particular food related theme to Ms. R, we just played with movie quotes and such that led to ideas. Hmmm, maybe I should have some sort of contest to see if anyone gets the movies, their quotes, and the connection to the dishes…

Duck Breast with Charred Eggplant Puree, Mango Chutney and Piquillo Sauce

Overall the menu was a mix of those ideas – stuffed grape leaves, mushroom barley soup, and a pomfret, or butterfish, steamed in chard leaves with a mildly spicy herb sauce, and a dessert of an orange cheesecake with a lemon brandy sauce. However, the dish of most interest and that I was happiest was the main course. The inspiration came from a chef in Houston, Charles Clark, who has had an online recipe for Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Smoked Duck Breast and Pistachios. From there it was only a bit of logical twisting to arrive at Seared Duck Breast with Mango Chutney, Piquillo Sauce, and Toasted Pistachios. It needed something supportive and smoky, and a nice puree of charred eggplant seemed to fit the bill. The chutney was simple – diced mango simmered in 2:1 vinegar and sugar mix with mustard seeds, onion, and a minced chili pepper. The sauce was a puree of piquillo peppers, garlic, and olive oil. And the eggplant a mash of charred eggplant, garlic, mint, olive oil, salt and pepper. Nice inspiration and a dish that I was very happy with!

We paired the dish up with a new wine for our “list” – Finca Intimayu Syrah 2006 – a dark, rich, full-bodied Syrah with great spice notes and a decent amount of acidity and structure that matched up with the duck beautifully.

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