Cuttlefish with rice crisp, lemon mayo, smoked paprika salt, Qin Xie Christmas 2013

Family Xie Christmas 2013 lunch

Over the past year, and probably longer, I’ve been collecting menus from various dinners that I’ve been invited to. Some with photos, some with wine matches and some with just the bare bones.

For me, it was an interesting exercise to see what restaurants, chefs and caterers think a well composed meal is. It was also the perfect way to keep track of some of the experiences that I’ve had the fortune to enjoy over the course of the year.

This year, for the first time, I’m going to share a menu of my own. It’s the Christmas menu for 2013 for the family Xie.

Let me explain.

We don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s not something that I grew up with and I think Christmas just happened because everyone else around us did it. As I grew up however, there was less need for the presents, trees and fairy lights.

The festivities are long gone and Christmas today is just one of those times of the year where the family Xie, gather without fail, for family time. The other being Chinese New Year.

For close to a decade now, I’ve been cooking our Christmas meals. It was always the one meal a year that I’d cook and it was as close to the Christmas spirit as our non-celebration went.

Every year, we’d have a different roast and over the years we’ve gone through turkey, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, venison etc. Last year, for the first time, we deviated from the traditional format and had a seven course tasting menu. It was a last minute decision and in many respects it was simply showing off for a recent culinary school graduate. The reality was that it wasn’t as well crafted as it could have been. That part was lost in favour of fleeting fancies like popcorn amuse and marshmallow petit fours.

This year I’ve decided to go with a conservative five courses, in part, inspired by some of the meals that I’ve enjoyed over the year. I think there are a lot of things that could be refined and improved but, I am happy with the composition nevertheless.

So here it is – the menu for the family Xie Christmas of 2013 completely with the wines we drank and a few hasty snaps (incidentally, you can follow the links to see my tasting notes for the Rhône red and Barossa PX and find the recipe for the banana soufflé):

Cuttlefish with rice crisp, lemon mayo, smoked paprika salt

Chorizo baked egg with asparagus spear and pickled asparagus

Shaw+Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Adelaide Hills, Australia

Pan roasted poussin with open poussin and wild mushroom filo pie, pomme purée and thyme jus

Cave Chantespan Côtes du Rhône 2012, Rhône Valley, France

Cheese with nuts and fruit

Hot banana soufflé with date syrup

Dandelion Vineyards Legacy of the Barossa NV 30yo PX, Barossa Valley, Australia

Qin Xie

Qin Xie is a London based food, wine and travel journalist and trained chef.

When not infiltrating Michelin restaurants as a kitchen tourist, she writes about food, drink and travel. Her work has appeared on Yahoo, FT, The Times and CNN.

Her first cookbook, co-authored with YS Peng at Hunan Restaurant, is out March 2014.

According to friends, her watch is always set to UTC -- ready for the next big adventure. In reality, she is happiest at the dinner table or by the sea.

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