Friday, 13 February 2009

Guilty Pleasures Dinner Party

One blustery night after a wine tasting meet-up, myself and some food and wine bloggers got talking about our guilty pleasures. The sort of things that you're shame-faced to admit, but absolutely insist that they're delicious. Crisp sandwiches were mentioned, and when I volunteered Spam ramen noodles, I got a chorus of "bleeeuuuurrgghh!" Well! Hmmppf.

So, we decided to have a Guilty Pleasures dinner party. Myself, Niamh, Chris, Helen and Dan from Bibendum met up at Denise's lovely flat (I got massive flat envy). On the menu: Cheesy sausage biscuits (picture above, Denise), Marmite and cucumber sandwiches (Helen), Spam ramen noodles by my good self, Bovril on toast (Chris), macaroni cheese (Niamh), and a blind tasting from Dan with wines from Bibendum - the theme being 'everyday wines you’ll probably like’ vs. ‘posher wines you should like but might not’.

So, after starting the evening off with gin martinis, we kicked off with the cheesy sausage biscuits. They were delicious - slightly herby and warm. Once I get my hands on some Bisquick I am making me some of these. Helen's Marmite and cucumber sandwiches, specifically on white bread, were next and were great, with no hint of sogginess.

Next: Spam Ramen Noodles. Everyone loved them! (No, really, they did). It was quite a common dish when I was growing up; in fact, much of Hong Kong and South East Asia (as well as Hawaii) still love their Spam without shame. I promised a recipe, so here it is...

Spam Ramen Noodles

Serves 6

1 block of instant noodles per person
1 large tin of Spam, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
Light soy sauce
Toasted sesame oil

In a non-stick pan, add the slices of Spam. There's no need to add any oil, Spam is quite fatty enough. Fry until crispy on both sides, and leave to drain on kitchen paper. Add the noodles to a pot of boiling water and stir with a fork or chopsticks to loosen the noodles. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add a few splashes of soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil to each bowl, then divide up the noodles with a few tablespoons of the cooking water to moisten. Toss the noodles, then lay the Spam slices on top, garnish with the spring onions. Eat with gusto, then cry a little about how guilty you feel. Or not - as you can see from the photo, the dishes were polished off.


Next, came the macaroni cheese. It was impressive - a huge baking tray filled with the stuff. It was seriously tasty too, due to an inclusion of bacon, and topped with panko breadcrumbs for added crunch. I like to eat mine with ketchup, which I suppose may be another guilty pleasure of mine.

By this time, there was some bloating occuring. It's not easy eating all this stodge, but we soldiered on gamely. Bovril on toast surprised us by being on rather artisan toasted sourdough, slathered with butter. Delicious, and really comforting. It must've been a night of revelation as Dan had never tried Marmite, Spam or Bovril.

So what about the wines? I get a bit lost when it comes to tastings. I can get the flavours once someone mentions them, but conjuring them up on my own is difficult for me. The first were two whites - #1 was Katnook Founders Block ‘07 Chardonnay, which I vastly preferred to #2 - a 1er cru ‘03 Meursault. Incidentally, most of the wines tasted better when eaten with a sliver of the extremely delicious Tomme de Savoire cheese Dan had brought.

Next up we had rosés. The first one I could barely drink; it was sweet and sickly, much too much so for my palate. The second, a salmon pink colour was much more palatable and I loved it, possibly my favourite of the night; I remember drinking rosé similar to this when I was in Provence briefly last year. Anyway, they were revealed as California Zinfandel ‘07 Delicato for the first - eurgh! - and the second as Chateau des Sarrins Cotes de Provence ‘07 Rose. Lovely stuff.

Lastly, the reds, and an Old World vs. New. I much prefered the Los Alamos '06 Cabernet Sauvignon to the Les Tourelles de Longueville 2003, Pauillac.

So what did I learn? I have common taste in wine, unless it's a rosé. But then I knew that anyway.

All in all, a great night, rounded off by a selection of ales, some seriously tasty Eis Wein and... er... some penny sweets. It was pleasurable, and I sure felt guilty by how much cheese I'd consumed.

21 comments:

Denise said...

Great post, Lizzie! If you've got flat envy now, it's a good thing you didn't see my last place! Thanks for re-acquainting me with Spam. How come everyone else's pics of the biscuits came out so fab and mine didn't? Great pics BTW. I wouldn't say you have common tastes in wine, just not yet fully developed. Keep drinking, that's how I learned!:-)

Helen said...

Aww, thanks for being kind about my cuke sangers. I really did like the spam ramen, but then I always have been a fan of the spam. I just think that in my later years I tried to deny it. I shall deny no longer!

Oliver Thring said...

One of the best posts I've read in ages. I've never even tasted spam!

Helen Yuet Ling Pang said...

Hurray for fried spam! Love it love it love it. One of my childhood favourites. Must tell my mum about it next time she calls!

Ros said...

No KFC at the party? That's my most guilty pleasure. Yes, I know it's dirty and wrong but after the last parent's evening at 9:30pm when I was tired and weakened from all the useless conversations... I succumbed.

You know, I've never eaten spam!

Lizzie said...

Oliver - well now you can try it yourself!

Ros - I love KFC. Especially the popcorn chicken. It's so wrong.

Dan said...

Great idea for a dinner party - Where can I find a recipe for the 'Cheesy sausage biscuits'.....the idea of a sausage/cheese biscuit really floats my boat.

Lizzie said...

Hi Dan - if you click on Denise's name towards the top of the post that will take you to her blog, where she's posted the recipe.

ginger@dinnerdiary.org said...

Such a good idea for a dinner party, I think my guily pleasure is probably fishfinger sandwiches!

Merlotti said...

Hey - thanks for the comment! I too had a giggle at the name and all things that rhymed - generally to do with stock(ing) cock and various other 'ways around'! Merlotti x

Dan said...

Hey thanks Lizzie, I'll have a look at Denise's blog for the recipe.

Sausage+Cheese = satisfied customer.

Andrew said...

Certainly a fun sounding meet-up and interesting that the Delicato wasnt a fave again (you didnt like the one at the Bibendum tasting either did you?)

Do you feel you are getting better at the old wine tasting lark?

Jeanne said...

That's such a fab idea for a party! But as you say - there may be some bloating seeing as guilty pleasures tend not to be crisp salads, LOL :)

Dan Coward said...

Thanks Lizzie for the eye-opening 'spiced ham' experience. Saw some in the supermarket today called 'Celebrity Meat Loaf'...i can only imagine...

Also...Dirty martinis to start - the guiltiest of olive-juice infused drinks!

Browners said...

This sounds like so much fun. My guilty pleasure would be baked beans "two ways" - served for starter, cold, in the tin and then for main course, hot with butter on toast.

Sinful.

Gourmet Chick said...

I love this - great idea Lizzie. I do think mac and cheese is almost gourmet though now. As for spam noodles - never!

Alex said...

What a great idea! But I don't think I could stomach spam fritters... Says the girl who's guiltiest pleasure is Mr Porky's pork scratchings. They're filthy!

janetching said...

Congrats Liz for being one of the best food blog mentioned in TIMES ONLINE!

Lizzie said...

Andrew - I think I am getting better, but I have a long way to go yet.

Alex - they're not actually fritters as they're not battered; just dry-fried.

boo said...

Wow this is such an amazing idea. I'm definitely with Niamh - Mac and cheese all the way!

eatlikeagirl.com said...

Great post Lizzie! And great noodles. Spam! Who knew?!

Niamh