4 January 2010
Un Ballo in Maschera
For a long time now we have spent new year with a particular group of friends. It’s getting to the stage where it just wouldn’t feel like new year without them. You might remember that we went to Florence one year and last year we went to Whitby (yeah, you can hold your ’sublime to the ridiculous’ comments).
We won’t mention the year of the hazelnuts, oh no.
So this year we wanted to do something swish. We thought about going to a swanky masked ball in Oxford, but for one reason and another that didn’t look like it was going to work out. Then I had the fab idea of being swanky at home, but getting someone else to do the cooking.
As we could not get to Italy for new year, we arranged for Alfredo to bring a little bit of Italy to us. He’s a personal chef who created a fantastic menu for an astonishing new year feast.
We nibbled on tomatoes stuffed with pesto, aubergine crostini, chicken liver pate and roasted peppers. The second appetizer course (I did tell you this was a feast, didn’t I?) was a plateful of gorgeous bruschetta and fantastic olive focaccia.
We then moved to the dining table for an antipasto course of bresaola with rocket, parmesan and lemon juice.
I would love to show you pictures of the full meal, but from this point on, it is fair to say that I was concentrating far more on eating the food rather than documenting it. It’s possible I had also drunk a small amount of fizz. Ahem.
Still, I can tell you that we went on to have an amazing pasta course of lobster tagliarini with a white wine, tomato and chilli sauce. The main course was roasted sea bass cooked in white wine and rosemary on a bed of sliced potatoes baked with garlic and olives, served up with a delicious tomato and caper salad.
Then – yes, there’s more – we skipped to the cheeses as our French guests wanted cheese before dessert and who are we to argue? For desserts (yes, desserts in the plural), Alfredo created a mountain of profiteroles filled with chocolate or marsala cream and a fabulous zucotto ice cream dessert.
I know, it sounds like an obscene amount of food and I’ll admit we were all very full by the end of it. But we spread the meal over several hours and made the most of our feasting. We didn’t have to worry about a thing and the cost, between us, was cheaper per head than if we had booked ourselves into a restaurant, bought wine and paid for taxis home afterwards. Much cheaper, I can say.
We rang in 2010 in our silly posh outfits with masks on and a certain amount of post-prandial silliness.
Probably our best new year ever – I have no idea how we will top it next year.
So, happy 2010 to you all – how did you see in the new year?