Celebrating with food (and wine!)

{Images above from Équilibre}

It was a special milestone birthday in our household last weekend. Pascal turned 40. Sounds old, doesn’t it? But then again, isn’t 40 the new 21?

We couldn’t let this one slip by without some sort of celebration, so when a dear friend offered up her delight-filled home (and awe inspiring wine cellar) as a venue, we jumped at the chance. Entertaining hasn’t been a priority for us for quite some time, so we wanted this occasion to be a bit special for both us and our guests.

Planning a menu for over 20 was a little daunting, but we embraced the challenge. Plenty of spring produce with the flavours of the middle east would be the focus – peas, broad beans, lemon, orange, grapefruit, oodles of fresh mint, moroccan spices, pistachios, green olives, dates, pomegranate. There would be a selection of bite sized entrées to sample with a glass of bubbly, followed by a sit down dinner of shared platters, finishing with birthday cupcakes for dessert.

Hard work? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely!

Once we had decided on the overall theme, I found a recipe for a slow cooked leg of lamb and some gorgeous seasonal salads on the Australian Gourmet Traveller website (a reliable resource, particularly for special event cooking). Although I was nervous about the lamb (from Soldridge Farm), the end result after a couple of days marinading and a day of long slow cooking was deliciously tasty and tender – perfectly accompanied by a pistachio and green olive tapenade.

The cupcakes first made an appearance at our wedding six years ago and the recipe has since been refined by our lovely hostess – moist, decadent, delicious and slightly boozy – everything a good celebration cake should be!

We also had the opportunity to sample some amazingly good wines, with the surprise talking point of the evening being the pinot noir from Whisson Lake in the Adelaide Hills.

Few things are more meaningful or enjoyable than sharing a meal with friends or family, especially when created with a little thought and prepared with love…

This was indeed one of those occasions, and despite the unexpectedly bad weather on the night, it was warm, convivial and memorable – an experience that just couldn’t be replicated in a restaurant.

Happy Birthday Pascal, here’s to another great decade and many more shared gatherings over good food and wine!

Read on for the full menu with links to recipes where available…

The Menu

Broad bean falafels with lemon, cumin chilli salt and tahini yoghurt (pictured above, top left)
Smoked trout, herbed crème fraîche, fennel salad served on lavosh (above, top right)
Chorizo, broad beans, manchego cheese on sourdough toasts

12-hour slow roast lamb with pistachio, green olive tapenade (above, lower centre)
Spice rubbed roast chicken with golden ras el hanout (above, lower left)
Pink grapefruit, beetroot and avocado salad (above, lower left)
Jewelled Israeli couscous (with roasted pumpkin, capsicum, fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds)
Zucchini, pea & mint salad

Celebration orange almond cupcakes with white chocolate liqueur frosting (above, lower right)
Moroccan mint tea, coffee
Pistachio orange stuffed dates, labne

{Additional image credits: lantern (above centre) from IKEAcupcake (below, right) photo taken by one of our lovely guests}

One Response to “Celebrating with food (and wine!)”

  • Looks gorgeous!! Middle eastern food is a great choice for entertaining, it’s so easy to share everything! Am inspired to go middle eastern again for dinner!!