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Dec 29, 2007 07:41 AM

Please help critique and/or round out this menu..

Having a small, informal dinner party for 6-8 on New Year's Eve. Here's what I've got in mind so far. I'm looking for a few extra flourishes to really make it complete---taste-wise, color-wise, texture-wise. Or, if you think something doesn't fit, I'm open to redactions.

Hors d'oeuvres:

cherry tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese and olive tapenade;

smoked salmon pinwheels (a mix of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and butter rolled up in slices of pumpernickel bread, pinwheel-style, cut fancifully on the diagonal)

First course:

butternut squash ravioli with browned butter and fresh sage (ravioli are store-bought but fresh and from an excellent source)

Second course:

roast pork loin with marmalade glaze, red onions and parsnips, (recipe from; have never tried it but it looks simple and everything supposedly gets caramelized and juicy from the marmalade sauce); I'm planning to add, as an optional additional condiment, a "mostarda di peperoni" I bought at Formaggio as a condiment--it's a spicy-sweet pepper-honey-raisin concoction that is supposed to work with roast meat. I hope it doesn't clash with the marmalade glaze.

simple mixed greens (arugula, spinach) with olive oil and lemon juice


Not sure yet, but thinking of either a ricotta-mascarpone cheesecake with raspberry sauce (the cheesecake has a layer of choc chips on the bottom), OR a honey-pine-nut tart (recipe from Jamie Oliver) OR a simple orange-flavored sponge cake with orange and chocolate icings and vanilla ice cream. (regarding the last option: I'm worried that orange cake after orange pork may be too much orange, but also thinking that a running theme might be interesting)

Some points to consider:
Of the desserts, the orange cake is simplest and the cheesecake the most onerous (requires draining the ricotta, according to Cook's illustrated)

Also: any fabulous wine-pairing suggestions for the pork (think of the condiments) ?

Thanks hounds!!!

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    1. Wow! I wish we were invited to your house!

      1. A good quality Marsanne should go very well with both the ravs and the pork. This one is excellent if you can find it:

        '06 Domaine Astruc Marsanne, Malras, Languedoc

        I'm assuming bubbles to begin... that is a question of style and pocketbook I love Billecart-salmon rose but it is pretty spendy. I'd say a nice blanc de noir should strike the balance between those who hate sweetish champs and those who hate bone dry champs.

        You'll probably want a couple reds for those who like to have reds with their main course (even though white is the best match for your dish). I think the big jammy reds would taste a little sour with the marmalade based sauce so a relatively young cab franc would do well or a well structured pinot noir.

        Lang&Reed makes some wonderful cab francs. But you always need to buy a few bottles because I've had some major issues with their wines being corked.

        3 Replies
        1. re: lebelage

          thanks for the very thoughtful wine pairings. I love Marsanne, so I will definitely look for that one. For the bubbly, I''m going with the Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace brut rose. I like the cab franc suggestion too, although I will probably stick with the Marsanne. I do have a dessert wine on hand as well (forgot about it before): it's a Demeter Tokaji Late Harvest Furmint 2004, which I'm very much looking forward to trying. I think it would go well with either the cheesecake or the honey-nut tart. I'm leaning toward the latter for dessert because cheesecake is just too damn fussy and has to be done too far in advance.

          1. re: bella_sarda

            I'd go with the nut tart.

            Just remember that in pairing dessert wine you always want the wine to be just slightly sweeter than the dessert or it can taste sour. Not sure what recipe you're using but for that reason I'll usually add a tiny pinch of salt and a little citrus zest to a honey based dessert.

            Your menu sounds great, I'm sure your dinner will be a hit.

            1. re: lebelage

              I totally agree with this suggestion! It is the course I'd look forward to the most. Nice choice on the pork with the mostarda too!
              Good luck and Happy New Year!

        2. Sounds delicious! For dessert I'd opt for the cheesecake (maybe a simpler recipe?) and not the orange cake since as you pointed out, your pork loin has a marmalade glaze... it'd be too much of a good thing for my palate but that's just my 2 cents :)

          1. I think I'd do anything but the cheesecake, as it sounds way too heavy after your excellent-sounding meal. I don't think the orange cake would be a bad choice--I agree that it can be nice to repeat flavors in a meal. The tart also sounds great with a dessert wine.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tinarina

              Ok, I'm definitely going with the tart, because I agree that the nutty-honey thing will be the best match for the dessert wine. And thanks to lebelage for the salt/citrus zest trick!!!