Knocking on wood almost always works, (knock on wood), and I give my superstitions total credit for helping to keep the weather at bay so our collaborative Polynesian supper club event could go off without a hitch. The 90 degree weather at least insured it was sultry! We, at Forkable and Being Totally Sweet In Chicago, promised to create a paradise of authentic dishes recreated with a splash of bygone glamor for the present pallet. I think we delivered.
Our usually drab urban gangway was transformed into a sumptuous tropical retreat. Silky curtains blocked the sidewalk and the alley, golden lights twinkling overhead and surfaces festooned with tropical flowers and candles helped create a magical intimate effect.
A true collaborative effort, Ira and I worked tirelessly over this event, to make sure all the details were perfect. Our courses were ambitious, heavily researched and painstakingly tested. You’ve seen the menu. Here’s the food.
Appetizer: Masa Shrimp Bun steamed in a Banana Leaf
served with a Sesame dipping sauce and accompanied by a freshly pickled quail’s egg.
Unwrapping the banana leaf revealed a bun of rice flour and corn meal surrounding the smokey sweet filling of diced shrimp and bacon. The bun was nicely complimented by the salty sesame oil dipping sauce. A freshly pickled quail egg helped finish this taste sensation with a bit of tart sweetness and a smooth creamy texture.
This course fused preparation and presentation to create a fresh delightful soup in which each ingredient complimented each other without losing itself in the chorus.
Bowls of ingredients were brought out to each guest and the dish was finished with a steaming broth poured into the bowls table-side to create a fresh fusion of smell and taste.
First Course: Peruvian Corvina Ceviche with Champagne Vinegar infused with Earl Grey
served on a fresh bed of epazote with a salad garnish of fresh fruits.
Ceviche, a technique of “cooking” fish in citris and vinegar, creates a supple delicate texture lacking in dishes which have been heated. This dish married the mildness of this Pacific seabass with the tart ceviche marinade and the fresh sweet fruits to create a light cool flavor perfect for a sultry summer night. (We just “married” three things there. Oh well, theres no problem with bigamy in food)
Palate cleanser: Sauvignon Blanc Sorbet with Ginger and Lemon
A light crisp spoonful of icy cold sorbet helped cleanse the palette and cool the the body in preparation for the entree.
Entree: Roasted Leg of Goat served with a Coconut Beet Sauce
sided with Guava Plantain chips topped with a Manioc Puree.
To prepare this goat, it was marinated for 16 hours, brined in a dry rub for 3 hours, placed over a hot BBQ to sere and finished off in the oven. The result was a sumptuously moist roast complete with the delicate sweet flavor of young goat and complimented with the smokey flavor of the grill. The salty plantain chips, given a rub of sweet guava paste were finished with a buttery puree of manioc (the local word for yucca). Our local word for this was DELISH!
Dessert: Samoan Po’a
garnished with Lemon Balm, and sided with a light sea salt cracker.
Samoan Po’a is a medley of fresh fruits including mango, papaya, pineapple and banana , thickened and baked to create a custard like texture. The thin crispy cracker created an excellent counterpoint to the sweet smooth sensation presented in this final dish.
Oh, is that it? Well… not quite. No Polynesian dinner could be said to be complete without at least one tiki drink!
After Dinner Appertif: The Beachcomber
The Beachcomber, a take off a traditional daiquiri, features rum, fresh lime, a bit of tripple sec and a few other secret ingredients. This was solely Ira’s mix, so if anyone wants the recipe, you’ll have to check with him!