Sunday, 23 November 2008

22.11.08: Dinner party with friends

We invited over some friends and gave a little sumpin' sumpin' of a dinner party. She finds it hard not o try and impress, and so prepared a rather fine variety of vittles: braised carrots from Eating Well, Real Simple's chicken marsala, Ramsey's sautéed potatoes with panch phora, and Nigel Slater's fennel, pear and watercress salad. For dessert (yes, there was dessert! at home, even!) we tucked into baked ricotta with carmelised peaches - also from Ramsey.

HE SAYS: We haven't had the carrots or the chicken dish for a long time, but both were as tasty as I remembered. The carrots had a lovely jammy texture with a hint of sweetness and quite a robust citrus kick to them, I likey a lot. The masala chix finely balances the saltiness of the pancetta with the sweeter masala wine sauce. Ramsey's potatoes were also a success (I could've done with more seasoning on them, but that's a small quibble). Salad was a crunchy affair which worked well with the rest of the plate and the dessert was simply gorgeous: subtle creamy peach infused ricotta, what more could I want?

SHE SAYS: I thought the carrots were brill: spiky flavours joined forces with soft textures to deliver a hearty wake-up call to my tongue. (I fear our guests, who are French and take ther food v. seriously, were not as impressed with the garlic-lemon pairing, but c'est la vie.)

I'd debated whether the panch phora potats were worth the extra spicing, but a quick check back to our previous attempt showed it would be worthwhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed the hints of fennel and onion seed...really, how can you miss with homefries, however fancy or plain?

Chicken was delish and had fancy sauce on it - style and substance, that's what I was going for, people. A prosciutto wrap is such a cheat, anytime, but your humble chicky breast needs to dress to impress. I took mine slow to enjoy the savoury nature with the capers' floral uplift.

Our guests seemed most intrigued by the salad, which does deliver a taste sensation much more than the sum of its parts. Something about pear, lime and fennel creates another flavour entirely: sweet + acid + aniseed = transcendent.

Dessert was okay. The peaches were meltingly sweet and tingly, but the ricotta was pretty bland, and maybe a little odd for being served hot.

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