The finished croquembouche. After all the day's dramas, I was so proud and relieved to have completed it! I may have even done a little happy dance once it was safely on the table.
See all the little caramel threads? They actually built themselves as I was building the 'bouche - as I transferred my tongs from the pot of caramel to the cone and back again, and rotated the plate, the little threads of caramel would follow the trail. Cool, huh? After the whole 'bouche was finished, I added a few extra caramel threads - using a teaspoon to drizzle the caramel over the cone.
The Dessert Buffet
From left - raspberry/blueberry frangipane tartlets, the croquembouche, madeleines.
Cheese 'stars'. I had a few bowls of these dotted about the place.
Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts. I had 3 bowls of these in various places around the house.
I had planned on buying olives, but we ran out of time that day. I don't think anyone missed them though.
Pumpkin and Bocconcini Skewers - I'd over-roasted the pumpkin and it was quite soft (whoops), but we managed to get a decent number of skewers. Phew. The chillies ranged from mild to very, very hot.
Beans wrapped in prosciutto
Bread rolls ready for sausages.
Quiches ready for anyone who was still hungry.
The cheese platter. Clockwise from left hand side: cornichons, muscatels, Brazilian guava paste, Bergader BlouBayou Cheese (it's German!), Double Brie, Cheddar.
The cheese platter and quiches stayed on the table, whilst the skewers and beans were passed around.
We had oysters as well, but I didn't manage to get a photo of them. As the menu had stated, we were supposed to have cooked prawns, but when my bro went to pick them up, they were raw! Whoops. I didn't have any time to cook them, so I stashed them in the freezer, and we'll have them for a treat sometime this week.
Gruyère Cheese Choux Puffs - I reheated these in a 180C oven for about 10 minutes and then passed them around.
Flammkuchen - bacon flavour. I made 2 bacon and 2 chicken, and these were surprisingly very popular! My cousin Jacob did a super-job of passing this around. Thanks Cuz!!!
Su's Gyoza... a-freakin'-mazing!
She started frying/steaming the gyoza as I was onto the second round of flammkuchen. Man, it was smoky in the kitchen! And it was also very crowded in the kitchen, so it was a bit of a challenge co-ordinating the pans and knives and boards and food amongst all the guests. But still fun.
By this stage, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and and sleep; my throat was killing from yelling to talk to everyone over the hubbub. And because I was sick, food just wasn't looking appealing to me. I cooked 1.5 kg of beef chipolatas on the stove, but I seriously couldn't imagine anyone wanting to eat more. But they did! It seems that everybody loves sausages! (All meat-eaters, that is). They were wolfed down ravenously.
At about 9, we moved into the lounge-room for dessert! I should mention now that over the course of the evening, a couple of balls had fallen off the cone - we'd had a few candles nearby which I think were slowly melting the caramel. But we moved the candles out of the way and the other balls remained firmly stuck onto the cone. Phew!
Sparklers on the 'bouche. Shh... don't tell anyone, but one of the polyester flowers caught on fire! I just picked it up and my mum and I blew it out, hee-hee!
After singing happy birthday, we passed the balls around on napkins. I was surprised that so many people really liked them. Did you know that profiteroles are a super-popular dessert? I should totally add them to my dinner-party-dessert repertoire.
Cone halfway through...
Aftermath in the kitchen...
So, the party was a lot of fun. I've never seen my house this crowded before! We made only a bit too much food, and bought way too much alcohol. We've got heaps of drinks leftover! My parents had a great time, and people seemed to stick around quite late, which I assume means they were all having fun. I think a couple of people were having a bit too much fun... but that's all part of the party atmosphere. (Yelling out at me, "Chef! Where's your wine glass?!?! Drink more!! Meet my son!") I should add here, that I was beaten by my lovely cousin Catherine, who had TWO fathers interested in introducing her to their sons. I suppose it's a hazard of attending inter-generational parties.
My bro was awesome DJ for the night, mixing up a great selection of R&B and chill-out songs, and pulling out the Stevie Wonder for cake time. Stevie rules!
A big thank-you to my parents for letting me take control of the kitchen, to Dad for paying for everything and setting things up beautifully, to Su for her awesome gyoza and incredible help, and to Dan for DJ'ing and transportation! And the biggest thank-you to Mum, for being the best mum in the whole wide world and looking so lovely on her special day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!