Saturday, August 9, 2008

an olympic-themed meal

In honour of the Olympics Opening Ceremony, and possibly just to make life a little more interesting, I decided to make an Olympic-themed dinner. Given that it ended up being 6 courses long, it was possibly an Olympic-sized dinner as well. After too much thought into the various combinations - 5 colours in each course, or one colour per course? - I picked the latter option. As I'd wanted to make 5-colour-ring-jellies for a long time leading up to the event, I ended up with 6 courses - 1 colour per course, plus all 5 colours at the end.

Continue reading...

1st course
Corn potato soup

yellow soup
It's yellow and a Chinese classic (well, the corn soup part, anyway). Adding the potato and having it creamy rather than a thinner soup with egg floating around is probably less Chinese.

2nd course
pink salmon & prawn tomato pimento

red appetiser
The salmon mixed with the tomato pimento sauce ended up tasting like sardines, but oh well, it was still tasty. YH's favourite course. As I was placing the sauce around the plate, the commentator on TV was talking about how the performance (a square surrounded by people in a circular formation) reflected ancient China's view of the world, where the heavens are round, and the earth square. I looked down, and my dish looked like the performance on stage. Very cool...

3rd course
spinach pork dumplings green tea somen noodles in piquant sesame dressing

green appetiser
This course didn't turn out as green as I'd hoped. I could have stuck to a safe bright green lettuce capsicum salad, but I wanted to try something a little different, and a dumpling noodle dish was a nod to China as well. I didn't have the time or desire to make my own dumplings and I couldn't find green-skinned ones so I made do with cutting them open to show the spinach inside. I had an urge to dye the skins green, but luckily I resisted. (Well, ok, I confess I actually tried dyeing one, but it didn't turn out - those skins are quite dye-resistant...) The green tea somen noodles when raw was a promising bright lime green, but when it cooked the colour faded. I didn't want another soup dish, so I dribbled a spicy vinegar-soy-sesame oil dressing over everything which made it quite tart and refreshing.

4th course
grilled lamb fillet portobello mushroom & squid-ink spaghetti

black main
In an attempt to make the lamb darker, I marinated it in soy sauce, but I left it a tad long so it was a little too salty. The portobello mushrooms were from Canada and they were huge! YH's one was at least 12cm in diameter. It's hidden under the lamb in the picture, so you can't really see how large it was. Tasty, too, when grilled - even I liked it...

5th course
Assorted platter with blue brie, blueberry cheese & blue potato crisps
Cream soda vanilla ice cream

blue dessert
It wasn't exactly blue, but it is seriously difficult to find a true blue food. I made do with a chunk of King Island Blue Brie (served with non-blue crackers). I found some Japanese blueberry cheese balls that were purple in colour, and also some potato chips made of blue potatoes, that were also more purple than blue in colour. We were too full to eat the brie, but we nibbled on a chip and one blueberry cheese ball. Strange and sweet.

At the last minute, I bought a box of blue icy poles. It was the last box in the store, and I felt it was calling out to me. Actually YH had wanted to buy it some time back and I had exclaimed - but it's blue, it looks so fake...oops... actually, it tasted quite nice, with a slight bubblegum flavour.

blue icypole

6th course
olympic ring jelly

I had planned this jelly dish some time back when I saw multiple coloured konnyaku jelly packets in the supermarket. However, they didn't have blue, only a purple grape flavoured jelly (which I turned blue with some food colouring) and the lemon jelly (flavoured with black tea) wasn't black, but a browny colour. The most disappointing was the green apple jelly - it was a light green, which I darkened a little with food dye, but when I poured it out, it was still too dilute and after it cooled it became a pale yellow colour (see the stripe above the brown). So I headed out to buy more green jelly, and really went wild with the food dye. Taste-wise, I thought the konnyaku jelly didn't taste that good as it wasn't sweet enough. And it was a bit too chewy... I stopped after the red layer. YH finished it all up, though! The spacing of the courses was just right - we ate the jellies towards the end of the ceremony as the Olympic torch was being lit. A very memorable evening!