This time of year, there are so many reasons to celebrate. Last Saturday night was the annual Mooloolaba Christmas Boat Parade. Usually there is a party at home but this year I was invited to Jan and David’s – they’re the friends I test out new restaurants with. Both are food and wine lovers who enjoy entertaining
When I heard about the Penfolds ‘Numbers Can Be Extraordinary’ campaign, I wanted to be a part of it. In October, Penfolds – whose heritage dates back over 170 years – unveiled The Penfolds Collection 2015. The Penfolds Collection has a number for every type of gift.
Ages ago, when John and I were married, we gave each other bottles of Grange to be opened on our 10th wedding anniversary. When year ten came around, we had a fantastic party and enjoyed every bit of that wine. I was ready to get married again just so we could buy more Grange but John said I didn’t need a big occasion to buy great wine. Sadly my wallet no longer appears to have enough cash for Grange.
I took a bottle of 2013 Bin 389 to the Boat Parade party. This wine is often referred to as ‘Baby Grange’, in part because components of the wine are matured in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange. The wine has the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon with the intensity and richness of Shiraz.
There are a few wines on the annual release list that I’m not familiar with. I have a reputation for buying wines with interesting names and Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay is calling my name to try it. Tumbarumba is a small country town in New South Wales that is a cool climate grape growing region but for me, it’s a great name.
On Saturday night, Jan and David invited their neighbours and friends and it was a lovely mix of interesting people. The appetisers were first class starting with this rolled smoked salmon served with a rich dressing and caviar and then bruschetta with tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, basil, olive oil, plus a hint of guava finishing vinegar.
As you can tell from the photos, it was a rainy Saturday but that didn’t deter the festivities.
Then there were bruschetta with caramelised onions, roasted butternut pumpkin, and goats cheese drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. This is one of my favourites that I first enjoyed when out for a meal with our neighbours.
We opened our Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz and toasted a hearty Merry Christmas to all our friends, sampled all the appetisers and waited for the boat parade to begin.
These tangy Asian meatballs were coated in sauce, then rolled in toasted sesame seeds then served in spoons or toothpicks. It wasn’t long before the entire tray was empty and headed to the kitchen for washing.
- ¼ Cup milk
- 1 Large egg
- ¾ Cup cubed white bread, crusts removed
- 250 Grams (1/2 pound) ground pork
- 1 Garlic clove, minced
- ⅛ Teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ Teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ Teaspoon salt
- 1 Teaspoon baking powder
- 250 Grams (1/2 pound) lean ground beef
- 25 ml Tamari (or use soy sauce)
- 25 ml Soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- Pinch of salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
- This is a Cooks Illustrated method that gives a lovely texture to the meatballs.
- Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up and place an ovenproof baking/cooling rack over top; spray rack generously with nonstick cooking spray.
- Whisk the egg and milk together in a medium bowl. Stir in the bread and mash until no large bread chunks remain. Set aside.
- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the ground pork, garlic, allspice, pepper, salt, and baking powder and beat on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. (I know this seems weird but try it)
- Add the egg-bread mixture to the mixing bowl and beat on high until smooth and and well combined. It should take about a minute. Scrape the bowl as needed.
- Next, add the beef and mix on medium-low speed until the beef is just incorporated, about 20 seconds.
- Wet your hands and form round meatballs and place on the prepared rack. The mixture is sticky so keep wetting your hands.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until just done.
- In a dry skillet, toast sesame seeds over medium heat until they just begin to brown, set aside to cool.
- In a screw top jar, shake together the tamari, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and salt.
- Coat the meatballs and roll in sesame seeds.
- Serve them drizzled with sauce and topped with fresh coriander (cilantro)
Once the appetisers were nearly gone, it began to get dark and the annual Mooloolaba Christmas Parade began. On parade night, nearly every house along the canal has a party and because sound carries so well over the water, it’s like one big celebration.
Here’s David wishing us a Merry Christmas!