January is usually a much-maligned month, coming soon after the forced jollity of yuletide as it does. Most people complain of dented bank accounts, not knowing what to do with themselves, the dread of returning to work after the exuberance of the festive season – whether simply implied or actually felt – and the typically morose weather helping to set off a full-blown case of the January blues. For a winter-lover like yours truly, however, January is an opportunity to not only reflect on the year that has passed and set goals for the next one, but also revel in the comforts of your home, get creative with cookery, come up with various themes and excuses to host your nearest and dearest and spend time with your furry ones. It is the penultimate of these that my life-partner and I decided to devote some time towards on the second Saturday of 2019. The theme of our fabulous dinner was Thai cuisine, since it is a cookery style that the hubby does remarkably well. What could be more heart-warming on a cool January evening than a couple of spicy dishes in great company? Nothing, we reasoned, as we set about tidying the place up and then sourcing ingredients.
We first decided on the dishes:- after some assorted nibbly bits and pieces, Himself would tantalise the dinner guests with a lemongrass and coconut soup, followed by a red fish curry. Since dolphin fish or dorado, the staple Maltese autumn/ winter fish, wasn’t available at the supermarket’s fish counter, we chose the equally flavourful and somewhat more refined meagre for the main course. As preparations for the evening got well and truly under way, I made sure that I was suitably attired for an evening of convivial conversation, drinking, eating, and a touch of dancing too.
The first guests to arrive were Jon and Mindaugas. A multi-faceted artist who is intrigued by the world’s natural mysteries and diverse aspects of psychology, Jon was also our photographer for the evening.
Mindaugas and I chatted about some of the ins and outs of online marketing and concepts related to innovation (he is a published scholar, university lecturer and consultant who specialises in these subjects) over a couple of gin ‘n’ tonics – my absolute favourite aperitif – and white wine, while Jon snapped away and Himself worked his culinary magic in the kitchen. Soon, our other guests arrived, and the party was – almost – complete. After (more) preliminary drinks were had to welcome the lovely Katherine and Leo , we got down to the feast itself, starting off with the delicate, fragrant lemongrass and coconut soup, carefully crafted by the chef, with the fish stock having been made from the ‘nasty bits’ of the meagre. Some of the guests were drinking the refreshingly elegant Gavi di Gavi, while the rest of us enjoyed the more robust but smooth Primitivo, a beautiful, fruity wine from the Campania region.
After the soup came the star of the show – the gorgeous red curry, which we all pronounced to be a more than satisfying dish in its aromatic richness. With meagre as the main ingredient, the particular recipe that our beloved chef used moulded coconut cream, fresh red curry paste (itself made from garlic, shallots, dried chilli peppers, galangal, shrimp paste, kaffir lime peel, cumin seeds, lemongrass and coconut milk), kaffir lime leaves, fresh red chillies and plenty of sweet basil leaves with the fish itself. Our taste-buds were truly stimulated – and then some! The curry was complemented by some fluffy Jasmine rice, and an accompaniment which is hardly typical of Asian cultures, but which people in most Mediterranean and Central European countries can’t seem to get enough of. I am talking, of course, of bread!
Once the main part of the meal was over, we cleared the table to make room for some exquisite chocolates in order to round off the dining experience, tea and coffee. In the meantime, Katherine made herself comfortable with two of the furry denizens of our abode, while the rest of us concentrated on the sweet treats, herbal tea or coffee.
The latter part of the evening saw things livening up a touch with some dancing, animated conversation on various topics and, of course, a selection of digestifs – whisky, cognac, sweet liqueurs, more gin ‘n’ tonics – to help us process the wonderful meal we had just dined on. We were joined by a few friends who couldn’t make the sojourn earlier due to a prior commitment, and they only added to the merrymaking.
The shenanigans continued into the early hours of the morning. If all January evenings constituted a celebration of friendship, good food and accompanying drinks, winter and dancing as this particular one did, then we’d want it to be January all year round! (Or, perhaps not – but you catch my drift!) Roll on for the next winter evening featuring degustations and fun! 🙂