Monday, December 6, 2010

Cooking December

The final Cooking Your Calendar dinner party arrived amidst the avalanche of social events that make every December simultaneously enjoyable and exhausting. Hot on the heels of last month's beachside BBQ came a tricky little fried fowl dish that was to be our very last, and arguably most delicious De Bortoli dinner for 2010. For December, Tim Keenan took our taste buds to Italy with his recipe for Quail Saltimbocca and Sicilian Eggplant Caponata. We couldn't quite get to Sicily ourselves, but as it turned out, Camperdown was a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Quail choreography

Our hosts for December were the artist couple Robyn Backen and Ian Hobbs. Acclaimed curator of Aboriginal art Djon Mundine and his partner, theatre producer Annemaree Dalziel, also attended, along with Ian's young daughter Olivia. And let's not forget Max the dog.

Annemaree & Robyn lock in dates with the DeBo calendar

We made our way over to Robyn and Ian's home by cab, armed with bags of food and wine. In the taxi, Rachel began quizzing Drew and Daniel about whether all the key ingredients were on board. Quail? Check. Pinot? Check. Camera? Check. Etc? Check. What about the eggplants? Drew and Daniel, who had done the shopping for this event, couldn't recall buying those. Given the quail is served with Sicilian Eggplant Caponata, there seemed to be a problem. The cabdriver dropped Daniel off in search for eggplants, while Drew and Rachel headed to our host's home. Easily rectified, we hoped this would be the only mild crisis bearing in mind Rach's dramatic fall from grace with last month's "cretatta" meltdown.

Djon, Robyn & gratuitous product placement

A good half hour later Daniel arrived with three eggplants, drenched in sweat and with a mild case of cranky pants. But there's something about Robyn Backen's gorgeous laugh that melts the darkest of moods. There's also something to be said for a healing glass of bubbles! Rach and Drew got busy with the food preparation, while Daniel snapped away with the camera. Robyn augmented the wine supplies with a vodka punch, so the festive cheer was free flowing right from the get-go. When Djon and Annemarie arrived they were already totally blissed-out, having just had a massage nearby in Newtown. Daniel took that opportunity to shock everyone by showing his 'cupping' bruises on his back from a recent massage - truly horrible. Ian hastily tried to explain 'cupping' to a very bewildered Olivia.

Gorgeous Robyn poses with Gorgeous Us

Back in the kitchen there was still work to be done. Loaded with bones, but lean on meat, we feared the quail wouldn't satisfy everyone's appetites on their own. So Rachel came up with a side dish of Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Caramelized Leek Risotto, teamed with a green salad and crusty bread. Drew had the job of cooking the quail, which was no mean feat, given there were eight delicate birds to took cook, each wrapped in prosciutto and a single sage leaf. Negotiating the fry pan with Max the dog trying to sniff his crotch, Drew managed to pull off the quail with style, grace and dignity intact!

Quail Saltimbocca and Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

At the table, conversation revolved around art world gossip and various art shows coming up - such as Robyn's participation in The Ghost Show, which Daniel curated for Hazelhurst Regional Gallery. We also had a laugh recounting to our guests tales from our year of cooking the De Bortoli calendar, along with all the general dinner party banter that is hard to recall the next day.

Food's up!

At midnight, Cinderella style, we took our leave. But we ended up back at Drew and Daniel's apartment, chatting about the highlights of the year we have spent and looking back over the blog. It was 2am till when the party finally ended. But the party never really ends.

Daniel, Drew & Rachel sign off from a year of wine, food, friends and hangovers


  1. Congratulations on cooking and blogging your way through the calendar for 2010. I've enjoyed following your assortment of dinners. My favourite was of course THAT pig.

  2. Dear Jenny
    Thanks for following our blog. We are a bit proud of ourselves to have made it through the entire year with, generally speaking, no outright failures. Such fun that we're sort of sad it's over! Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. From the Cooking Your Calendar team.