For the past eight years, I’ve been throwing a dinner party one night during Hanukkah, thematically linked to the holiday. It started as an alternative to a free-for-all latke party such as we used to throw; when we renovated our apartment, we decided we didn’t want our new furniture trampled under foot by hordes of guests, so we shifted into a more “genteel” mode of entertainment. But, being a bit of a nut about games with rules, I decided that my dinner party had to have rules that connected it to the holiday. To whit: eight courses, each featuring olive oil.
This year was the eighth iteration of this dinner, and I think in this case eight is enough. If anything, I’ve enjoyed throwing the parties more and more each year, but I’ve enjoyed the rigidity of my rules less and less. So whatever I do next year, it’ll be something different.
Meanwhile: here’s the menu we prepared for Iron Chef Millman VIII:
Course 1 – Zensai: Latkes three ways, topped with –
- Anko, a thin slice of Meyer lemon, and matcha;
- Smoked sturgeon, chive pesto and a dollop of katsuo ume;
- Coarse mustard, a slice of pickled cucumber and deli meat (cured tongue and pastrami).
The accompanying cocktail is an as-yet-to-be-named concoction of sake, vodka, grapefruit and Meyer lemon juices, lemongrass, ginger and sugar.
Course 2 – Sūpu: Curried mushroom soup with fried wild mushrooms.
I had made this a few days earlier without the curry and with fried shiitakes. Thought it was a little bland, so added the curry. Also thought chanterelles would be even better than shiitakes. Curry improved it, but shiitakes worked better than chanterelles – they had more moisture so they withstood the frying better.
Course 3 – Sarada: Napoleons of marinated raw halibut, golden beet and cucumber, accompanied by frisée, drizzled with blood orange juice and chive oil.
Presentation-wise, this dish was a big success, but if I were doing it again I would alter the marinade to make it a bit less salty and to give it a bit more pop.
Course 4 – Kakin: Korean fried chicken with seaweed salad.
Gochujang and a counter-top deep fryer: my two new loves.
Course 5 – Men: Torcetti with roast peppers, fried lemons, fried parsley, and bottarga.
Course 6 – Niku: Lamb meatballs with tomato sauce accompanied by oil-roasted leeks.
I somehow managed to forget to photograph this course.
Course 7 – Chinmi: Meyer lemon custard and olive oil-rosemary cookies.
The custard was an unequivocal success. The cookies were fantastic right out of the oven but they were pale shadows of their best selves by the time they made it to table. In future, serve immediately.
Course 8 – Kēki: Dark chocolate olive oil cake.
Recipes, as always, available upon request, to the extent that I can find or remember them.