The weather gods were kind and gave us a beautiful Melbourne Summer's day. We simply had to augment their celestial efforts with sprigs of tiny purple flowers (that I lovingly called Baby Spew … and the penny dropped on that woeful pun with M only a couple of days later) and a jug or two of Campari and Prosecco cocktails. (picture not included … too busy drinking).
Baby Spew - $5 from Little Saigon
Our house pulled out all the stops to freshen the bloom of a shiny new roof.
Isn’t she pretty?Our menu for the evening was as follows:
Entree - Steamed Octopus with Lemon and Oat Sauce (by Nicolas Poelart of Embrasse)
Main - Roast Lobster served with heirloom tomato salad, lemon infused cous cous and simple green salad (Neil Perry)
Dessert - Fresh peaches with zabaglione (also by Neil Perry)
As per ush, we started on dessert first. We all had a hand (or three) in whisking the egg yolk, sugar and marsala concoction that forms the Zabaglione. There was a moment of panic when P realised he may have miscalculated (he must be one hell of a maths tutor!!) the proportions, but it all worked out in the end.
There was enough of the mixture to fill 3 of our newly acquired powder blue ramikins purchased at Daiso (I.Heart.Daiso).
Pretty in Blue
We left these to set in the fridge and turned our attention to the sous-viding of our octopus tentacles. We purchased one octopus for about $6 over at Footscray Market much to the incredulity of the fishmonger's “wife”. (How many legs does an octopus have indeed!! Just shut up and bag the bitch already!!) She even tried to smuggle another one in the bag as she weighed it. Good Spottage P!!
P cleaning our Cephalopod
P painstakingly stripped the tentacles of most of the skin. Then it was into a sandwich bag and sealed tightly with a rubber band. We got the water up to rolling boil in a pot, turned the fire off, popped the sandwich bag in and put the lid on. 20 mins later, we retrieved the bag and placed its contents into bowl of icy water.
Ready for its warm bath
20 mins later
We started on the Oat Sauce next, which was literally oats toasted in a pan and then infused in warm cream and milk with a final flourish of lemon zest. And yes it was screaming !Breakfast! to us too. If a field expert had soundtracked this process, it would have been the sonic equivalent of a nervous twitch. How the hell was this going to turn out?? And what was it going to taste like?? A steaming bowl of oat porridge with some marinara mix anyone?
Warming the milk and cream
With the Oat sauce done, it was time for us to face the one task we had been silently dreading all afternoon – (dun dun dun!!!) - the killing of the lobsters. We had 2 plump specimens slowly being lulled into a comatose state in the freezer. Thankfully Neil Perry left some instructions in his article which we followed to the T. But what really creeped us out was the fact that even after they were halfed and the brain matter scooped out, the flesh of one of the lobsters continued to contract and expand, pulsing like some cell splitting amoebic alien. And what was worse, it was still doing it even as I smothered the shell with olive oil, salt and butter, and continued to do so on the tray while it was in the oven. Hell! You can't get any fresher than that.
Split in 2
Onto the asparagus which we crumbed in baker's flour (answers on a postcard please!), egg and breadcrumbs made from a stale sourdough pana di casa loaf. These were deep fried to golden crunchiness in olive oil. After getting rid of most of the oil, we warmed the octopus tentacles in the same pan. Then we blitzed the oat sauce with our trusty bamix to create foam (oh yes dear readers, we have transcended into the realm of molecular gastronomy!) and then it was ready for plating! P worked his magic and finally entree was served.
Lovely Crumbed green spears turning golden in the pan
Crumbed, fried and draining
A little bit of molecular magic - making foam
And you know what? Oat sauce with seafood - match made in heaven!!
Entree - Steamed Octopus with Lemon and Oat Sauce
Feeling quite smug with our efforts, we started on roasting the lobsters. P worked on his heirloom tomato salad and M beautifully moulded his cous cous with the aid of an expresso coffee cup. It was time for our main to be served, but not before a minor glitch when I totally fucked up the lemon, butter and parsley sauce which was meant to go with the lobsters.
Dressed in butter ready for the oven
Despite the fact that perhaps the lobsters could have been left in the oven a smidge longer, they were absolutely scrumptious! Having said that, I have to admit that I prefer crab over lobster, but I revelled in the fanciness. P's Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay was also going down a treat.
Main - Roast Lobster with lemon infused cous cous and heirloom tomato salad
The Perfect sparkling to go with the lobster
It wasn’t very much long after this that peaches were being blanched quickly in water, pealed and sliced, ready to decorate our individual servings of caramel coloured zabaglione. Dessert was served.
Zabaglione, how do I love thee!! Let me count the ways ... munch, munch, slurp, slurp and munch!!
Dessert - Fresh Peaches with Zabaglione
So there you have it, first cook up, and arguably the very best so far!
We ended the evening flopped on the couch, (and thanks to P asking me what my very favourite Pizzicato 5 song was), listening to this: