Sunday, 30 June 2013

Come Dine with my favourite sleuths

Who would you love to invite to a dream dinner party? This was the task given to bloggers by Taylor Wimpey blog:
"We're asking bloggers to submit a dream dinner party menu, including a starter, main, dessert and an accompanying wine - you can also include a welcome drink of your own invention. The menus will be sent to our judges: Ruth Clemens, author of The Pink Whisk blog and finalist in the Great British Bake-off 2010, and Mr P of influential food blog DeliciousDeliciousDelicious."

As this is an imaginary dinner party, I thought I would absolutely love to invite three detectives that I admire the most: Inspector Montalbano, Hercule Poirot and Brother Cadfael. All three appreciate the good food and would be perfect dinner guests.
I read all books with Brother Cadfael, most of Hercule Poirot's adventures and a good amount of Montalbano's series, and of course, I have thoroughly enjoyed their detective work on the screen.

I am going to lay the table in the garden (if it's raining, we have a lovely summerhouse to retreat to). Just before the dinner, we could chat wandering in the garden and enjoy the heady perfume of the roses.
I have just asked my husband: "What would you serve as an aperitif?", to which he replied: "A spritz, like they do in Venice". It is a refreshing drink that is commonly served in the Northern Italy. 

For the starter I'm going to offer a selection of appetisers: Bresaola rolls, Endive Boats and Stuffed courgette flowers.
Bresaola rolls are so quick to make, but taste great: roll the slices of parmesan with the rocket leaves in the slices of thin bresaola.
Bresaola goes well either with robust white wine or delicate reds.  I would try to impress my guests with the local Oxfordshire wines, maybe, Crispin. Crispin is a "soft-dry blend of Reichensteiner and Bacchus grapes, where the acidity has been balanced to give a softer edge. Crispin shows a subtle fusion of orchard fruit and herb flavours with lingering hints of pears. Reminiscent of Pinot Grigio, Crispin is a very easy drinking wine that is ideal as an aperitif"

Endive boats always disappear quickly whenever I serve them for dinner.They look pretty, and boast a combination of flavours and textures: salty blue cheese (how about the local Oxford blue?), crunchy toasted pine nuts and sweet dressing made with honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

To make the stuffed zucchini flowers, I would pick the flowers in the garden (couldn't be more local than that) and stuff them with ricotta, chives, freshly grated parmesan and some chili (also from the garden, I have a big pot in the greenhouse with the chili plant, and oh boy, it is hot, you don't want more than one for this recipe). For the batter, beat the egg in the bowl with the fizzy water and plain flour, dip the stuffed flowers and deep fry in plenty of oil.

As we are dining al fresco in the garden, a pasta dish would look both festive and casual enough, without any pomposity. So many wonderful pasta dishes to choose from, what will I go for? Perhaps Nigel Slater's recipe for Squid Romesco which I tried recently and loved.
You start by roasting the Romano peppers in the oven, brushed with the olive oil. Once ready, remove the skins and whizz the peppers with the olive oil, crustless white bread, paprika and balsamic vinegar. You will get a lovely bright sauce. Add the chopped garlic to a frying pan with a bit of the olive oil. Once it softened, add the squid and a dash of sherry. Cook quickly, or it will get rubbery. Serve with the pepper sauce which has been warmed in a small pan on a bed of pasta.
I might not be Montalbano's beloved cook Adelina, but I bet he would appreciate the robust flavours of this tasty pasta dish.

Hercule Poirot once said: "You know, every wine, even a small wine, has its own personality with its own secret past and its own promises of pleasure in the future."

What would I serve the squid pasta with? I think I'd go for Bacchus from Brightwell Vineyard. "Bacchus is a soft and fruity white wine with a slight sweetness to balance its dry structure. The wine captures the aromatic apple flavours of the Bacchus grape in a gentle and easy drinking wine... a perfect accompaniment to pasta..."
I wonder whether Poirot or brother Cadfael would rather have a glass of cold beer? Our little town is a home of the world famous brewery, and I could offer my guests not just local, but also seasonal beer, like Snake's Bite, which boasts a "sinful distinctive fruity flavour with a bite".

Moving onto the dessert? My guys love the Advocaat bundt cake, I bake it very often, it is fabulously soft and sweet. In fact I baked it earlier today.

As this is the season for strawberries, how about eating a slice of warm cake with the custard and strawberries?! Heavenly.

I bet even Hercule Poirot, who often complained about the British food, would agree that there is nothing better than the English strawberries in June.
I would serve my dessert with a glass of Sauternes. It has distinct notes of peaches, honey and apricots and it is one of my favourite sweet wines.

And that's my menu for the imaginary dinner party.
Who would you invite and what would be your ultimate menu?

P.S. Competition links are removed as expired


  1. Oh like the look of the Bundt cake!!

    I would just invite friends, and maybe Mr Tumble for the kids!!
    I like sea food so we would have a Fruits des Mers type thing to start with Champagne then Snapper and couscous for mains, a lemon posset for dessert then a massive cheese board with a bottle of port!

  2. Sounds good, Olivia, and yes, Mr Tumble would be great company, we love him a lot. Love your choice of menu

  3. That looks gorgeous! I'm going to bake the cake for sure!