Christmas Feasts, Sydney 2012

Christmas Feasts 2012

“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.”

~ Goerge Carlin, American comedian, actor, author and philosopher

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With the passing of each Christmas, I can’t help but think how lucky we are to be living in Australia.

This country is blessed with a temperate climate which gives Sydney up to 340 bright and sunny days in a calendar year. Because of this moderate climate, fresh foods in our country are so good and bountiful.

As our country is “girt by sea”, our food markets are packed with the freshest fish and other seafoods.

Australia has also been the best performing economy in the developed world for the last 4 – 5 years. We have a stable political system with a robust and transparent mechanism for debate and policy-making. Public infrastructure such as transport, health, education, public parks, recreational precincts and law-enforcement systems are commendable, giving us a lifestyle that is the envy of many of our regional neighbours.

In spite of all our good-fortune, I still read about people who complain and whinge about so many things each day – from trains running late, traffic jam, poor quality mobile phone service and the list goes on.

Christmas is a time to reflect. It is a time to take stock of and appreciate our well-being.  And it is a time to think about and give to those who are less-fortunate than ourselves such as the sick and homeless. Unless we can do this, we will never be happy as we continue to wallow in discontent. Remember that no matter how difficult our individual situation might be, there are always those who are in more dire straits, those  stricken with illness that might have more than a life’s battle on their hands.

With these thoughts, we wish to humbly share with you our joyous time spent with family and friends over this Christmas season.

We sincerely wish to thank you for your support in reading our blog over the last twenty months. It is you, our dear readers, that keep us motivated in sharing our love for a delicious life of good food and music  with you.

Receiving Christmas pressies are fun but we must remember that it is a privilege to be able to give. On that note, we wish you a very merry Christmas and may 2013 bring you peace, happiness and good health!

Warmest wishes,

Chopinand   &   Mysaucepan 

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Christmas party at home

Dinner table setting, Christmas 2012

Dinner table setting, Christmas 2012

Unlike last year’s 1970s retro Christmas party, we have chosen a more contemporary theme

Dinner table setting, Christmas 2012

Dinner table setting, Christmas 2012

2012 Turkey Flat Rose

2012 Turkey Flat Rose

A chilled 2012 Turkey Flat Rose is dry and an absolute delight as a pre-dinner drink. It is a perfect complement for our glazed Christmas ham.

2004 Bloodwood Shiraz

2004 Bloodwood Shiraz

Cooked Australian tiger prawns

Cooked Australian tiger prawns

Christmas in Sydney is not the same without cooked prawns.

The Sydney Fish Market opens for a staggering 36-hour trading session right up till 5pm on Christmas eve to give seafood lovers their chance to indulge in their favourites.

Mayonnaise is good but my favourite dipping sauce for cooked prawns is Japanese wasabi mixed with light soy sauce.

Orange and cos lettuce salad

Orange and cos lettuce salad

Christmas  this year has been cool unlike some years where the weather is hot and humid. After all, we are in the summer season in Australia during Christmas.

An orange and cos lettuce salad is light and the slightly tangy cider vinaigrette dressing is delicious in whetting the appetite.

Christmas ham with honey and mustard glazed Granny Smith apples

Christmas ham with honey and mustard glazed Granny Smith apples

Unlike last year’s fig and brandy glazed leg ham, this year is a honey and mustard leg ham with glazed Granny Smith apples.

Succulent and juicy glazed ham

Succulent and juicy glazed ham

Each slice is moist and tender with the hint of clove and the tangy sweet green apples work like a treat with the meat –  a real marriage made in heaven.

Raspberries on a Raspberry Christmas trifle

Raspberries on a Raspberry Christmas trifle

Raspberry Christmas trifle

Raspberry Christmas trifle

Pea and ham soup from leftover Christmas ham

Pea and ham soup from leftover Christmas ham

The leftover leg ham and bones are packed with flavour will make the most awesome pea and ham soup in the world.

I always look forward to cooking this pot of hearty soup the very next day with some beautiful vegetables.

Gently simmer the bone with all its meat remnants in a cast iron pot for about two hours until all the meat has fallen off the bones.

In another pot, sautee finely diced brown onions, carrots and celery in some extra virgin olive oil until transluscen. Then add diced tomatoes, borlotti beans and the stock from the leg ham and simmer for a further hour until the diced vegetables are very soft. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and add in the green peas just before serving.

Tip: If you have a hangover from over-indulging during Christmas, this soup is also one of the best hangover cures that I can recommend.

Christmas tree, December 2012

Christmas tree, December 2012

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Ellen and Louie’s party

2010 Section 400 Pinot Noir

2010 Section 400 Pinot Noir

Our friends Ellen and Louie invited us to their place for a pot-luck dinner.

I always look forward to pot-luck dinners because our multicultural society means that each pot-luck dinner will invariably be a melting pot of wonderful and diverse cuisines.

In this instance, some of our friends have become very innovative with their choice of dishes. Certain kinds of food are best cooked fresh and Ellen’s kitchen is looking like a MasterChef hot house at one stage.

Sauteeing prawns shells

Sauteeing prawns shells for a salmon curry

Slicing salmon fillets

Slicing salmon fillets

Mysaucepan preparing whole barramundi for the BBQ

Mysaucepan preparing whole barramundi for the BBQ

Our contribution to this pot-luck dinner is a grilled barramundi which Mysaucepan seasoned  at home to be cooked on the BBQ at Ellen’s place.

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Preparing fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns and pork belly

While the pots are simmering, another group of friends are busy preparing fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls made from cooked shrimps, poached pork belly, rice vermicelli, garlic chives and cucumber.

Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns, pork belly and garlic chives

Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns, pork belly and garlic chives

Check out these fresh home-made Vietnamese rice paper rolls. I’m not sure if I have even seen such fresh ones at good Vietnamese restaurants in town.

Chinese deep fried spring rolls

Chinese deep fried spring rolls

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Banana leaf parcels of John Dory grilling on the BBQ

Not to be outdone by the kitchen that is now firing on all cylinders, the outdoor BBQ is fired up and Margaret is grilling banana leaf parcels of John Dory.

Thai style grilled John Dory in banana with lemongrass, ginger and chilli

Thai style grilled John Dory in banana with lemongrass, ginger and chilli

Banana leaf is one of the most exotic and beautiful ingredients that one can cook with.

In this Thai inspired dish, banana leaf is used as a wrapper for succulent John Dory fillets that are marinated in a lemongrass, ginger and chilli paste.

There is so much food, I don’t even know where to start.

Braised pork belly with preserved cabbage

Braised pork belly with preserved cabbage

Chris’ braised pork belly with preserved cabbage is an iconic Chinese dish.

The slow-cook method means the meat has taken in all the flavours of star anise and cinnamon, not to mention melt-in-your-mouth tenderness from each piece of decadent pork belly.

Prawn salad with coriander, pork belly carrots and radish

Prawn salad with coriander, pork belly carrots and radish

Grilled whole barramundi with mango salsa

Grilled whole barramundi with mango salsa

Mysaucepan‘s grilled barramundi topped with freshly diced mango, drizzled with a salsa dressing of grated lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemon juice and garnished with coriander.

Banh beo Vietnamese rice cakes with shredded prawns

Banh beo Vietnamese rice cakes with shredded prawns

Salmon curry with okra and pumpkin

Salmon curry with okra and pumpkin

Salad of radish, celery, carrot and mint

Salad of radish, celery, carrot and mint

Crispy prawn crackers

Crispy prawn crackers

Prawn salad with coriander radish and roasted peanuts in prawn cracker

Prawn salad with coriander radish and roasted peanuts in prawn cracker

Meleny Mountain Wines

Meleny Mountain Wines

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Paul’s dinner party

Chinese style roast pork

Chinese style roast pork

My cousin Paul is an amazing cook and tonight, we are treated to yet another sumptuous feast!

2006 Climbing Shiraz

2006 Climbing Shiraz

The aromas of a 2006 Climbing Shiraz is full of dark berries and spice yet restrained. The soft tannins make this a beautiful wine on its own.

Chicken curry

Chicken curry

Sambal eggs

Sambal eggs

This simple sambal eggs dish is making me yearn for nasi lemak yet I am drawn to the hearty bowl of bak kut teh in front of me.

Stir fried prawns with bitter gourd and black bean sauce

Stir fried prawns with bitter gourd and black bean sauce

Black bean sauce is a popular Sichuan ingredient and is normally used to stir-fry chicken or beef.

Paul has made a stir fried prawns with bitter gourd and black bean sauce and this is my favourite tonight as I love the subtle bitterness of the bitter gourd.

Paul's dinner party

Paul's dinner party

Sour cherry and almond flan

Yael's Sour cherry and almond flan

Nicole brought a sour cherry and almond flan and as much as I am indifferent to desserts, I ate  a huge piece of this awesome flan because it is one of the best flans that I have ever tasted.

The sour cherry’s and roasted almond flakes are a genius combination but the star of this dessert is truly the shortcrust base  -  a wonderful revelation with its toasty and crumbly bits.

It is available in Thomas Dux outlets but you can also order it directly from Yael’s Cake of Distinction.

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Para & Lena’s New year’s eve dinner party

1999 Joseph Perrier Champagne

1999 Joseph Perrier Champagne

KC brings a 1999 Joseph Perrier Champagne which took me a while to dislodge the cork over the kitchen sink.

The cork finally eased off with a small ‘pop’ and this 13-year old champagne is toasty straw in colour.

It still has a gentle amount of fizz and I detect hints of roasted walnut. It’s not a Bolinger but I think James Bond would have approved, in a compromising situation perhaps.

2001 Petaluma Riesling

2001 Petaluma Riesling

I am a little disappointed with my 2001 Petaluma Riesling because the previous one I had a few months ago seemed nicely aged.

Light honey coloured, this wine might be on its last legs but nevertheless, it is still showing some attitude on the finish.

2012 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling

2012 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling

KC’s 2012 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling is arguably one of Australia’s best rieslings.

On this cool new year’s eve evening, I detect the characteristic hints of zesty and citrusy lemon on the nose.

Although I like this dry style riesling, I believe this wine may be a little too early to drink. Good as it may be, drinking the current vintage now is a bit like expecting Bernard Tomic to win the Australian Open this year.

Thai prawn salad with cabbage, onions and kaffir lime

Thai prawn salad with cabbage, onions and kaffir lime

A Thai prawn salad with cabbage, onions, kaffir lime is like having a Thai-girl show in the mouth – an explosion of spicy and delicious flavourrs.

Succulent and plump pieces of prawns that’s dressed with a spicy sour chilli sauce are making me more hungry as I eat.

Chinese roast duck

Chinese roast duck

This Chinese roast duck was picked up at BBQ Kitchen’s newest joint in Chatswood and tasty as it is, I find it a little dry and I wonder if it is due to it being a take-away.

2006 Holyman Pinot Noir

2006 Holyman Pinot Noir

Teoh’s 2006 Holyman Pinot Noir from Tassie is one of the ‘biggest’ Aussie pinot noir that I have tasted.

Bold and chest-out, I think this pinot noir wants to shake off any resemblance of its subtle yet complex Burgundian heritage. I am not complaining because it is a bloody awesome wine with the Chinese roast duck.

Thai yellow curry

Thai yellow curry

Para & Lena's new year'e eve dinner party

Para & Lena's new year'e eve dinner party

I made a pot of rendang the day before from my mum’s home-made curry paste. Even though I have probably cooked this dish a hundred times, I am still totally addicted to it.

Beef rendang

Beef rendang made with my mum's home-made curry paste

Succulent pieces of beef that has taken in all the flavours of galangal, ginger, lemongrass, chilli and spices, they just melt in the mouth and is so good with either steamed rice or a few pieces of toasted bread.

2007 Crozes Hermitage

2007 Crozes Hermitage

2007 Crozes Hermitage

2007 Crozes Hermitage

2005 Chateau Briot Bordeaux

2005 Chateau Briot Bordeaux

I think my favourite wine of the evening is Para’s 2005 Chateau Briot Bordeaux.

“You ought to move away from Aussie sometimes and check out the French wines” he tells us.

He’s definitely not wrong because this wine has all kinds of berries on the nose. Tannins are soft and delicate, yet full of complexity and a lingering finish.

1973 Chateau Mouton Rothschild

1973 Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Para brought out a bottle of 1973 Chateau Mouton Rothschild where the label has a famous painting by Pablo Picasso.

“Are we drinking this tonight too?” someone shrieks.

“Nah ..” Para replies. “It’s almost forty years old, I’m not sure if it will perform tonight” he adds.

“I might save it for my 50th wedding anniversary” he declares.

“If I don’t perform on that night, I can blame it on this bottle of wine” he jokingly tells his wife Lena.

2000 Noble One Botrytis Semilllon

2000 Noble One Botrytis Semilllon

Nevertheless, I am glad that my bottle of 2000 Noble One Botrytis Semillon has performed tonight.

After years of cellaring,  this dessert wine is dark brown, mellow, smooth and quite classy too if I might add, just like our host Para.

Fruit platter - mango, watermelon and cherries

Fruit platter - mango, watermelon and cherries

The Peak with cover story on Tan Sri Fumihiko Konichi, Chairman & Founder of Texchem Group Malaysia

The Peak with cover story on Tan Sri Fumihiko Konichi, Chairman & Founder of Texchem Group Malaysia

Para is meeting up for dinner later in the week with one of his long-time friend Tan Sri Fumihiko Konishi, a successful businessman from Penang in Malaysia who founded the Texchem Group, a public-listed entity on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange.

Being a fellow Penangite, Para shares with us some wonderful stories about his hometown in Malaysia, how he moved to Singapore to read medicine and eventually settle in Sydney.

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

Last but certainly not least, we are here tonight to watch the beautiful fireworks over Sydney harbour from Para’s balcony. As always, Sydney never fails to impress us with its awesome new year’s eve events and tonight is certainly no exception.

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

At the stroke of midnight, Sydney harbour roars with an awesome display of  pyrotechnics that lit up the southern skies to usher in 2013.

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

As the fireworks draw ‘ooohhh’ and ‘aaahhh’ from everyone, we charge our glasses and wish each other for great 2013.

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

New Year's eve fireworks over Sydney harbour 1 January 2013

You can also check out last year’s new year’s eve where we watch the Sydney fireworks from a boat.

So dear readers, what did you get up to during the Christmas break and what kind of food did you feast on?

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20 Responses to Christmas Feasts, Sydney 2012

  1. What a stunning feast of Christmas treats. Everything looks great, especially Mysaucepan’s barramundi with mango salsa – yum! Glad you both had a delicious Christmas. x

  2. Baby Sumo says:

    What a lot of delicious food…. my fav one is the honey and mustard leg ham.. looks so good! Happy New Year to you and yours.

  3. celia says:

    Happy New Year! It sounds like you’ve had a fabulous festive season! All the best for a great 2013! :)

  4. heidiannie says:

    Chopinand-
    You have feasted yourselves well!
    We had roast chicken and stuffing, baked ham, ceviche, shrimp and garlic rice,
    New York strip steak, barbequed, and delicious breads and figgy puddings and fresh made ice cream.
    Have a happy new year- and enjoy your summer!

  5. WOW! It truly was an epic feast :) I do love the sound of kewpie and soy sauce as the dipping. I made a seafood sauce with aoli, ketchup and WS – old school haha. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a great New Year! Here’s to 2013 :D

  6. Happy 2013 guys! You sure know how to host a party. Everything looks great. Here’s to a great year ahead and more delicious eats :D

  7. bams Kitchen says:

    Happy New Years to you! Oh my goodness the food and festivities are so plentiful and look just amazing. Your photography makes everything look wonderful but I think I quite like your Asian fare and especially that Thai curry in the banana leaf looks to die for. Take care, BAM

  8. An absolutely delicious range of food and one reflecting so many different cultures here in Australia! :)

  9. Sissi says:

    If I had seen all these delicacies before Christmas, my Christmas party would look slightly different. (Although I did serve raw Vietnamese rolls at a certain point!) I am especially attracted to the coriander salad…
    Thank you for sharing all these fantastic moments with us and Happy New Year!

  10. Happy New year Chopin! Looks like you had an amazing, delicious and FILLING festive season! All that food looks way too good, perhaps you should cook for me next time? hehehe

  11. What an absolute feast!
    So much amazing food, the ham looked gorgeous! I agree we are very lucky we live in this great country.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family and thank you for sharing.

  12. Kelly says:

    Australia is indeed a great country to leave in and we miss it everyday we are away. Soon to be moving back though, thank goodness! You have no doubt enjoyed the holiday seasons judging by all the yummies! I love the look of that Ham!!! Another great thing about Oz, affordable great produce! Happy New Year and may 2013 be another yummy year for you!

  13. Feeling very full after looking at all these photos! What an amazing spread of food at all of the parties!

  14. Norma Chang says:

    Some feasts! I gained a few pounds just looking at the photos and reading about the dishes. Wonderful to celebrate together with so many different cultures.

  15. Trisha says:

    All of them looked absolutely AMAZING, I don’t even know where to begin! They are all indeed feasts!!!

  16. Raymund says:

    Definitely there are lot of nice food there, you made me drool over my keyboard.

  17. So much food and glorious food too! I too would not know where to begin. Happy New Year to you and your Saucepan too!

  18. milkteaxx says:

    looks like you had an awesome festive season filled with food!

  19. Hotly Spiced says:

    Happy New Year! It looks like you had a fabulous Christmas and yes, we can all find things to whinge and complain about but truly we are so much better off than 90% of the rest of the world. What a lot of feasting and entertaining. I would love some of those Chinese spring rolls – they look very tasty xx

  20. What an amazing feast!!!!!!!! I just kept scrolling down and more food showing up. I need to be adopted by you two. :) Looks like you had a wonderful holiday!

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