A Luxury Dinner Party, paired with beer

          Welcome to the luxury dinner party portion of the challenge of Foodbuzz.com’s Project Food Blog! Since most of my guests work in the restaurant industry (which means dinner parties are out of the question), I held this Luxury Dinner Party in the afternoon, so that everyone could attend and then be thoroughly blissed out for their dinner shifts. I tried to keep this post short and simple, therefore….no recipes. It is afterall to entice you to RSVP to my dinner party and to be well taken care of. So sit back and enjoy!  

          As most of you may know, My Barbarian Table is focused on food that I grow myself or procure from local sources. As timing goes, everything from the summer garden is gone and I have yet to plant the fall selection. Though some leeks and heirloom corn still remain, I thought it was a perfect time to feature the bounty that we have here in the Santa Barbara harbor. The Channel Islands are a fantastic reservoir of seafood, well known for it’s sea urchin, rock cod, spot prawns and spiny lobsters. Not a pescatarian? Never fear my carnivorous friends, there’s plenty of tasty meat in this menu.

           All of the dishes were served family style, in courses, and paired with an appropriate *craft beer which was spoken about briefly before everyone helped themselves to the food. Guest were seated at a beautiful hard wood picnic table, outside under the sun, in the garden, surrounded by morning glories and  ocean breezes.

hors d’oeuvres
braised pork belly kebabs and aleppo pepper prawns
*Poperings Hommel Ale (Brouwerij Van Eecke), Wantou Belgium

          Upon arrival, guests were greeted with Poperings Hommel ale and plated hors d’ oeuvres. The Santa Barbara prawns were simply sauteed in butter and sprinkled with dried aleppo pepper, a sweet smokey Spanish chili. Served peel-n-eat style, along side sherry glazed pork belly, this was a wonderful & whimsical way to introduce a local take on surf and turf. The Hommel ale was a bright and toasty compliment to the highly flavorful starters.

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin
with local meyer lemon, cucumber, olive oil  and artisanal crackers
*Malheur Brut Reserve Belgian Ale, Buggenhout Belgium

          For those of you who have never had sea urchin or fresh uni, this dish will change your life. It’s nothing like the stuff that comes in the wooden box at your local sushi joint. Santa Barbara channel hosts one of the largest populations of the sea urchin in the world, even Japan gets their uni from these waters. They grow in spades here.

          Considered a delicacy, the sea urchin roe is actually the edible part. Much like oysters, it is served raw and live. After gently scooping the roe sacks out of the spiny bodies, each urchin yielding 4-6 fillets, they were cleaned and then dressed with cucumber, meyer lemon, fresh horseradish, and olive oil. The sea urchin melts like velvety butter, tasting faintly of a clean sea, and it’s unbelievably creamy. Beautifully paired with a true champagne of beer, Malheur Brut Reserve Biere de Champagne that has fine bubbles and a subtle tangy sweetness and fine yeast that drinks like a true champagne.
one word…Divinity!

Hope Ranch Mussels and Clams
with chorizo, leeks,  and cranberry beans steamed with home brewed Saison
*St. Sebastiaan Golden Ale, Breendock Puurs Belgium

          The season for Hope Ranch shellfish is upon us! The cool summer allowed for a longer than normal growing season so the mussels we’re getting are enormous. They look like your standard Prince Edward Island mussels but on steroids but they taste infinitely better!

          This guy alone was a meal in of itself! Perfectly paired with a salty, spicy chorizo and fresh cranberry beans. After a quick dash of home brewed Saison and cream to finish this large bowl of shellfish, it was a perfect dish for community eating. And what better beer would go with this dish but a hearty golden Ale.  The St. Sebastiaan had a malty quality and a higher alcohol finish that provided a perfect balance to the spice of the chorizo. The use of a Mexican chorizo lended more salt to the dish than expected but the addition of cream and the beer pairing made it perfect!

Whole Roasted Vermillion Cod
with fennel, heirloom tomato and meyer lemon
*Blanche de Bruxelles, Belgium 

          Another staple of the Santa Barbara harbor is Vermillion Rock Cod,  it’s fairly affordable and also  available year round. Simply roasted with farmers market fennel, meyer lemon and the remainder of my golden tomatoes. After a good douse of olive oil and salt, the fish was roasted whole for about 40 minutes. I had originally decided to keep this off the menu, but it came out of the oven looking quite delicious. 

          Unfortunately, I had accidentally consumed most of the refreshing belgian white beer (Blanch de Bruxelles) that was to be served with it (woops!). What’s left in the fridge? well…. Labatt Blue. I know what you’re thinking…Labatt? you’ve got to be kidding, craft beer, NO…but it was what I had in the fridge and I messed up.  It’s a decent pilsner, one of the better commercial ones in North America, better than bud. In hindsight, I would have bought more of the white beer or gone one step further and served Firestone’s GABF Gold medal winning Mission Street Pale. oh well, next dinner party!

Pepper Crusted Lamb Chops
with garden leek risotto and watercress
*Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale

          With a plethora of leeks still left in garden, the risotto was the first be planned in this dish, Santa Ynez lamb fell in natural second. The lamb was crusted in fresh crushed pepper and pan seared in a cast iron skillet with butter, cooked to a temperature of your liking. I looked for mache in the farmers market but could only find watercress, which actually worked out better than I expected. It had a lovely spicy greenness to it that it complimented both the fresh risotto and the peppery lamb. This is where the herbal, floral hoppyness of a Pale ale came into play.  Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale fit the bill for pairing. It has a slight bitterness that comes across as clean and crisp, so it goes well with the underlying pepper featured in most aspects of the dish.

Croissant Bread Pudding

          Croissants left over from Saturday mornings breakfast made great use in a quick bread pudding for dessert. I used duck eggs in the custard, so this came out super rich. Thanks to my readers I was finally able to figure out what my mystery fruit was that is growing in my back yard. Pepino! Taste like a cross between a melon and a cucumber, I stewed some overripe ones in a syrup and diced up some fresh ones  to top the bread pudding. Sorry, no beer pairing for this one. But it was time for coffee anyway, espresso anyone?

          Well, the afternoon finally morphed into evening, and my barbarian table had fed a pretty few. It was a long day that started at 7:30 am at the farmers market, then off to the fish monger by 9am, followed by about 6 hours of prep and cooking. I’m not one to really allow anyone in the kitchen, even if to help. I want to serve my guests, not have them slave in a hot kitchen, especially for a luxury dinner party.  

          I enjoy the whole process of putting together the menu, making shopping list, planning the day around markets, prepping the food and the feeding my guests. I’m in a zen state of heaven when I’m watching everyone enjoying themselves from my large kitchen window! We don’t treat ourselves enough with food. We mindlessly eat without enjoyment and merely just do it to sustain. Luxury to me is tasting menus! But one doesn’t need 8 courses to find it, if you take a small moment to look at what is around you you can live luxuriously with a simple piece of fish or a pomegranate from the market. I’m happy that I was able to provide my guest a whole afternoon of eating, everyone deserves it!

          I hope you found the exotic offerings of Santa Barbara tasty enough to come and sit at My Barbarian Table, it would be a pleasure to have you!

          If you like the menu, please RSVP by clicking on the “vote for me” widget above! 



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35 responses to “A Luxury Dinner Party, paired with beer

  1. Wow! I keep telling myself I need to try sea urchin but I never have, you are so adventurous and I love that your sourced your ingredients locally. Great job! πŸ™‚

  2. Wow!! That looks amazing! I would RSVP any day! I have never had sea urchin but am dying to try it, I want to try it when it's fresh though, your version looked phenomenal!

  3. Fresh sea urchin is unlike anything you've ever tasted, it's like the best oyster you've had, only 100x better! I highly recommend! thanks guys!

  4. Oh my goodness, I've never had sea urchins before and their spiny bodies scare me a little. But after reading your post, I really want to try them! The menu for your party looks truly heavenly, there is not a dish I do not want to eat. Good luck!

  5. lots of work and fun dinner party

  6. I'd love to be a guest at this dinner party πŸ™‚ Everything looks fantastic!

  7. This meal looks positively gorgeous (though I'm still having a hard time getting over "Labatt" on a luxury menu!). Wonderful post!

  8. I would drive to Santa Barbara for this dinner! In a heartbeat!Good food and good post!

  9. What an amazing theme for a dinner party! I love beer, and I'm always amazed to discover the infinite ways it can be used in cooking.I got a giggle out of seeing "Labatt Pilsner" listed as a craft beer pairing. Definitely not the words most of us Canadians would use to describe it, but I guess it's still luxurious when compared to Bud. πŸ™‚

  10. I know!!! Labatt, it's not craft beer but it sure is tasty! The whole cod was a last minute addition and I didn't have any other beer in the house.

  11. I can't get over all the beautiful and amazing dishes you prepared. You are so very talented I am so impressed. Love the idea with the croissant bread pudding! Congratulations! You certainly will have my vote!

  12. Those sea urchins are awesome! Great, delectable, hearty meal.

  13. Beautiful sis, I'm there! Also whatever adjustments you did to the formatting seemed to work, no more wonky spacing. Cheers!

  14. I am impressed! Looks fantastic! Wow…sea urchins?! You went above and beyond!

  15. Great beer, and one of the few who understood this challenge. Great job. Good luck πŸ™‚

  16. An amazing dinner in luxury indeed! Great pairings with the variety of beers also!Congratulations, good luck and voted!Bon appetit!CCR=:~)

  17. Holy cow! This was an afternoon even BEFORE dinner? I'd have stuffed myself with all the amazing offerings and not eaten for months. Kudos to you for serving beer, too. I much prefer it to wine.

  18. I was really looking forward to your post, especially after last week's entry. You did not disappoint! Kudos to you and a vote from me! – Meg @ foodalution.com

  19. Wow, what a feast. This menu includes some of my very favorite things to eat in a single meal. Pure heaven!

  20. i grew up fishing sea urchin's from the sea and eating them right there and then…they are AMAZING!!! MUCH better than caviar πŸ™‚ (see my post here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1094)

  21. i really like that you did something different. When you think dinner party, you think wine, and i love that you chose artisan beer instead! Very cool!http://whitneysamusebouche.blogspot.com/Whit

  22. WOw! You went all out here! Very imrpessive menu. I am drooling over those pork belly kabobs! I also love how you did beer pairings–so much fun!

  23. thanks everyone! I'm still recovering! I hope everyone can find a little bit of luxury in everything they eat! thanks for the kind comments!Leila

  24. Amazing job and very creative, love the beer paring. Voted and hope you can take a look at my entry too

  25. Gorgeous! As I write about local foods in Colorado, you clearly won't find sea urchin on my blog. Love the beer pairings.

  26. Looks fabulous! Love your menu! Hope we both make it to the next round! πŸ™‚ You have my vote!

  27. I love your photography. I also love that your focus is on the food…I tend to take the same approach. It is, after all, a food blog.

  28. My husband has said that he would have loved to have been a guest πŸ™‚ Great job on the menu and on sourcing all ingredients locally

  29. Now that is fancy. Sea urchin?? Crazy-fancy. πŸ™‚ Good job.

  30. Wonderful menu and great dinner party, voted πŸ™‚

  31. Amazing! You made rustic meet luxury! I would gladly sit at your table and enjoy this beautiful meal. Bravo! This is why I did not enter this challenge, you deserve to win!

  32. As I'm reading your menu and your post, I realize this menu has everything I love on it. This could be exactly what I want to eat for my last meal. Impressive and you got my vote. Good luck!

  33. I would *love* to come at sit at your splendid barbarian table, especially with a menu like that. I'm particularly intrigued by the sea urchin – if I ever get the opportunity to try one in future, I will have to do so!

  34. Just stumbled upon your blog via the Project Food Blog challenge. What an incredible looking meal! Everything looks so delicious. I have cast a vote for you. Continued success, and I look forward to following your blog!

  35. Thank you to everyone who voted and for all the support and kind words- you guys are awesome!Say tuned for (hopefully) the next challenge!leila@barbariantable

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