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Seattle Food Bloggers Meat Party!!!

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(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

Are you sitting comfortably? This might be a long post….

I am not quite sure how to start this post to be honest. This event has been a few months in planning. Planning, which has been in my mind since I attended quite possibly the best party ever, hosted by WhiteonRiceCouple. Back in August they hosted a food bloggers party in California, and Danika and I were lucky enough to be invited. It was quite honestly one of the best evenings of my life. On our flight back to Seattle a day afterwards, I decided then and there that we needed to do something like it back in the Pacific Northwest.

Me, being me, wanted it to do it ASAP. Danika brought me down out of the clouds. Events take planning. Especially if you really haven’t catered for a lot of people before. Heck, cooking for more than 6 normally freaks me out. “Matt, lets do it after the New Year” she said.. “Rubbish, I want to do it now!!” was most likely my response (I really don’t remember now my exact words). Thankfully, she convinced me – she is normally the voice of reason in Mattika to be honest.

We set the date for January 17th. The idea of the party was simple. Bring a bunch of Seattle food bloggers together, drink some wine, eat some food, relax, laugh, joke around, talk about food, what we are all doing, and just plain let our hair down.

It is now, er, 3 days after the event, and whilst I might have just sobered up, I am still buzzing from the whole thing.

I still cannot believe all the incredible people that came. Seattle is lucky enough to be home to some of the most remarkable food blogs I have ever read, and of course the most remarkable people behind them.

I remember sending out the invites towards the end of last year, and thinking “yeah right, they aren’t going to come”, and then getting emails back saying “count me in!!!”. Not only that, but everyone asked how they could help. That is just another thing I love about food bloggers. Not just that they love a party, but their complete willingness to chip in, and make things special.

Once people gave the nod, I started thinking of a menu. I wanted to do something different for myself. If anyone reads these doodles regularly (HI DANIKA!!) they know I am mainly a seafood cook. I haven’t cooked a lot of meat.

“That’s it I thought!!! I am going to do a meat party!!!!”

So. I sent out the next update to the party.. A meat party.

Ahhh shit. That was silly.. I haven’t cooked a lot of meat before.. And what is the number one rule of hosting a party? “Don’t do anything new.. “

My saving grace? Time. I had time to work over a few dishes.

So that was it. Practicing a few dishes. Getting some meat curing. Making pate.

Then came January.

Danika asked how many people were coming. “errr. about 12 I think” was my answer. “Why don’t you just count the guest list?” was her response.

“Holy shit!!!!!! 18 people!!!!” was my response I am guessing.

More planning. Working out table arrangements. We wanted one long table.. would it fit in our dining room and living room? Yes.. Just.. Blimey.. but we need chairs.. We only have 4..

Even after a bunch of wine 20 people (including Danika and I) sharing 4 chairs is a little kinky.

The weeks leading up the party were a blur. Final invites went out. Ordering food, curing meat. I still couldn’t believe the caliber of people that were coming, and how willing people were to help out. Prepping food. Making confit for rillettes. Making pate. Ordering a 18lb pork shoulder roast.

What I still cannot get over is just how plain bloody amazing people are. Media today sends a morbid picture of the world – everyone out for themselves, and a world of ugly things. Bollocks to that. Most people are fantastic, loving, helpful people – that relish in each others company. This dinner proved that to me, if nothing else.

Some old friends, and some complete strangers got together, and within seconds seemed completely relaxed among each other, sharing food stories, finding out what everyone was doing. It was amazing to see.

The weeks of planning and prepping paid off. Knock after knock at the door was just one more amazing person after another. As people came in, they settled down, grabbed some wine, and just started chatting. Danika and I were in the kitchen putting finishing touches to the food.

IMG_1476

(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

The table was set, food was prepped.. all we needed was for people to sit down.. and what an amazing group of bloggers (and their guests) sat down:

Matt – www.mattbites.com – one of my favorite 3 food photographers. He flew up from LA. Even though the bloke is so uber-talented it just isn’t fair, he is also the most down to earth, nicest person you could ever meet.

Lara – www.laraferroni.com – another one of my top 3 favorite food photographers, and based much closer to home. Again, crazy talented, and her and her husband just the most wonderful people you could ever meet. She also agreed to take a bunch of photos of evening for me, so some of the shots you see here are hers.

Melissa – www.travellerslunchbox.com – The final of my top 3 favorite food photographers (none of them are least though!) – based here in Seattle again, just a wonderful blog, and the most incredible photography. Yes folks, and you got it, her and her husband were just incredibly down to earth too.

Dawn and Eric – Wrighteats – who couldn’t like them with the same last name as me?? Thankfully these two are just brilliant too. Like Lara, they took a bunch of photos of the evening as well – you can see some of their shots in this post too.

Catherine – http://madeleine.typepad.com/ – she also runs the new wine business Queso y Vino here in Seattle. She, and her husband were awesome. I ordered all the wine for the party from her – all I did was give her a budget and a menu, and the day of the party she delivered the wine. Talk about the most perfect pairing of wine and food too!!. She even stood up at the party to talk a bit about the wine for each course, and why it pairs well. Catherine – you are a star!!!

Brittany – http://thepielady-brittany.blogspot.com/ Brittany is also the pastry chef at two top notch local restaurants: Crow, and Betty. I used to live just up the street from Crow, and it was my local hangout (before I knew Britt). Amazing food. Anyhow.. I digress. I was lucky enough for her to make dessert for this evening. A dessert that was sodding incredible. Thanks Britt!!

Kari – http://www.anticiplate.com – a food blogger and dancer for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Warm, friendly, chatty – and cooks amazing food! Her husband Erik opened a bottle of my pickled shallots that had me beat.. Thanks mate!

Matthew – www.rootsandgrubs.com – an amazing Seattle food writer and blogger – has a book on the way out, and just a perfect, perfect modern approach to food writing. His book is all about raising an adventurous eater (his daughter Iris) – anyone with a child should get the book when it comes out. Heck, everyone should get the book when it comes out! Matthew also helped out by slicing the duck proscuitto, and also carving the mammoth whole pork shoulder! Thanks Matthew!!!

Molly – http://orangette.blogspot.com/ – an amazing local Seattle blogger. Her blog is more popular than any other I have seen. She has a book coming out. Amazinly eloquent writing style, with darn right gorgeous photography.

Traca – http://seattletallpoppy.blogspot.com/ – Talk about a god-send. She lent us a huge stack of plates, glasses, flatware, tablecloths, ramkins, you name it. That wasn’t it. Any help needed, she was there. A blogging tour-de-force, and an incredibly nice person that loves to set like minded food people up. One incredible woman.

This sounds corny, but I was just incredibly honored that these great bloggers wanted to come to a dinner Danika and I were cooking and hosting. Heck, quite a few of them I am sure had no idea who we were, I mean, I have read all these blogs for a long time now, but mine is just tiny compared to theirs.

So now lets talk food..

It was a meat party. I wanted to do a range of courses, going from light to heavy. Charcuterie was a must. So too was a large roast (something that is very much steeped in British tradition – we would always serve a large roast at a gathering of people).

The menu panned out to 5 courses. Some took quite a bit of planning, others took many a trip to cheese markets to sample cheese.. Ohh, the tough life Danika and I live!!

Here is how it went down:

Kona Kampachi, Sage Oil, Hibiscus Salt

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(photo credit: Lara: www.laraferroni.com)

huh? Kampachi is a fish right?? You said it was a meat party!!!!!

Yeah.. but I cannot help myself. I just love Kona Kampachi. I did this recipe a while back, but with tuna – in fact, I blogged it here.

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(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

It is even better with kampachi. A smoother fish, and the light cream flesh gives a much better visual contrast to the sage oil. 20 plates, Danika and I poured oil, sliced fish, sprinkled salt.

Charcuterie: Game Pate, Duck Confit Rillettes with Cognac, Magret Duck Proscuitto, court bouillon glazed celleriac, simple green salad, cornichons and dijon

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(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

The game pate I had made before. This is a grind of pork belly and rabbit meat, with seared chunks of duck breast in it – all flavored with apple brandy, thyme and juniper berry. This rustic terrine is then wrapped in bacon before slowly roasting.

The duck rillettes were somewhat of a last minute decision (as last minute as duck confit can be anyhow..). I did a confit of 8 moulard duck legs. Once these had ripened a bit in the confit fat, I stripped all meat from the legs, and pounded it with some of the confit fat, and confit jelly. In to this went some cognac – a classic pairing with rich duck. Pop this into some ramekins, and top with more duck fat. YUM. But lets think about it for a second… You cook a fatty leg, in fat for 11 hours. You let it sit in fat. You then blend it with fat, and mix it with booze. That has to be pretty bloody hard to screw up!!!!

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(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

The duck proscuitto.. There I am above, showing off the three breasts I have hanging. Were we to eat any of them?? Nope. They were taking much longer than expected. In the end I ordered some from Dartagnan, since mine weren’t ready. Matthew (www.rootsandgrubs.com) came round the morning of the party to help slice it with a scary sharp Japanese knife he was sporting. Taste? it was wonderful. A texture not unlike pork proscuitto, but a lovely rich duck flavor, and really deep red/purple color.

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(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

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(photo credit: Lara: www.laraferroni.com)

18 hour slow roasted whole pork shoulder. Pork Crackling. De Puy lentils with beurre maitre d’hotel, pickled shallots, apple cider/mustard/brandy reduction IMG_1563

(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

The pork shoulder (and pork for the pate) came from the always excellent Sea Breeze Farms. These guys are awesome. I always know their product is going to be top notch, and can get custom cuts within a week or two.

Above is the whole shoulder, skin removed, after roasting for 18 hours. The fat is scored, and rubbed with a mix of thyme, garlic, salt and olive oil. This gets roasted at 450F for 30 minutes, then 225F for 18 hours. The result is beyond words to be honest. So tender. So amazingly juicy. So fatty. So darn sodding good.

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Pork crackling (photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

Whenever I serve a rich protein like this, I like to pair it with a really simple starch – and de Puy lentils are one of my favorites. Shame I overcooked them here, but heck, if I was to screw up anything that evening, lentils isn’t the worst kick in the head.

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(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

I had a couple of jars of pickled shallots fermenting nicely in the frdge. One with apple cider vinegar and sage, the other with red wine vinegar and thyme. The idea of the pickles is that it just cuts through some of the fattiness of the pork.

A simple reduction of apple cider, whole grain mustard and apple brandy finishes the dish.

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(photo credit: Lara: www.laraferroni.com)  Erik opening the pickles..

A selection of cheeses, and two chutney’s

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(photo credit: Lara: www.laraferroni.com)

If you ask me, all meals should have a cheese course.. but that could be because I am an addict.

On the plate was:

St. Agur blue (France)

Irish Cheddar (Ireland.. duh..)

Expedition Brie (France)

Vache de Vashon (Washington State, Sea Breeze Farms)

Cirrus (Washington State, Mt. Townsend Creamery)

And the chutney. I made a Winter Squash chutney a while back now, that goes wonderfully with soft cheeses. Before that I made a more traditional chutney, with a mix of summer squash, tomatillio and apple – spiced with coriander and ginger. Both of these had been fermenting for a couple of months.

Seville orange mousse cake, coco nib shortbread with sel de mer, and raspberry coulis

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(photo credit: Dawn and Eric: www.wrightangle.com)

This came from the incredibly talented Brittany – pastry chef for Crow and Betty, and amazing blogger (see blurb above..). To be honest, you see that amount of baking in the title of the course, and you know I had absolutely nothing to do with it! All I did was two things: set a few dishes on the table, and eat it.

It was amazing. Everyone thought so. You could tell by the clinking of forks on plates, and the complete silence at the table.

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(photo credit: Lara: www.laraferroni.com)

Of course I couldn’t end this without thanking the guests that game – both bloggers, and their husbands/wifes/sisters. You guys made the party what it was – fan-bloody-tastic! It was great meeting such a wonderful range of people, all who share one thing in common.. the love of food and wine!

I should take a quick second to mention Danika, my wife. The planning of this thing has been kinda rocky. Work deadlines, handling a two year old, me up late working on the food – taking time away from us as a family. And then on the lead up to the party Dani was there prepping, cooking, cleaning, setting the table, organizing. Not to mention taking care of guests, plating, pouring wine. Oh, and dealing with my ups and downs whilst getting stuff together. I don’t know what I have done to deserve you love!!!!!

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42 Responses to “Seattle Food Bloggers Meat Party!!!”

  1. Alex says:

    Looks fantastic. Is all I can say.Lost for words.

  2. sue bette says:

    Congratulations Matt – this meal looked amazing & you did a wonderful job with the settting!! I love the menu, and now I am on a mission to put that terrine together.
    I’m also happy to find some new food blogs to follow!
    I hope you get a chance to enjoy some down time!!

  3. Anticiplate says:

    Great night it was! However, you might want to change the link to my name (unless my blog has turned into many many amazing desserts!!!) Thanks again!

  4. Dana says:

    As a local blogger, I’m offended not to have gotten an invite! :) Is it because I’m vegetarian? I could have brought the side dishes! All kidding aside, you did such a great job and brought together quite a fascinating group of people.

  5. Giff says:

    Wow. No, I mean wow.

    what a beaut of a dinner party.

  6. mattwright says:

    Thanks guys! the party was so much fun, and a really fantastic group of people.
    Kari: all updated, sorry about that! Blog posts at midnight = mistakes…

  7. helen says:

    Impressive indeed! I love hosting dinner parties, and I know how much time, effort and thought (not to mention cost) they require. So well done!

  8. Wow-wa-wiwa! I am green with envy! Everything looks absolutely AMAZING.
    Hmmm… so what do I need to do to get invited to your next party???
    Bellevue blogger here…
    ;-)

  9. mike says:

    What a fantastic dinner! Everything looks just great – especially that game pate.

  10. Hélène says:

    Next time you should invite the blogger on Vancouver Island, which would be me. I would have loved to attend such an event. This is so nice of you. Food looks so good and beautiful pictures.

  11. Y says:

    Matt, I’m incredibly jealous of your guests. All the food looks fabulous! :)

  12. Matt & Danika…what an exquisite evening! And being the last one to go, I was skipping home with the rillettes. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! What an enchanting evening. Thank you.

  13. Kairu says:

    That looks incredible. I feel like such a slob compared to you guys. I can just about cook one dish for two people, and consider that making an effort.

  14. Dawn says:

    Traca, I’m jealous that you got to bring home those rillettes. Amazing, indeed.

  15. Well, for someone who hardly cooks red meat, you sure did prove yourself as….AMAZING!!! This is the blogger headline of the year, “Seafood blogger throws a friggin amazing MEAT party!”.
    The menu, the guests and the pictures are fabulous! Makes us bang our head against the wall and wish we worked out a way to fly ourselves up there! You & Danika are the power couple!
    AND your duck proscuitto is still hanging…hmmmm, another party? Yes?

  16. A note from France: A wonderfully mad dinner by someone mad enough to make his own Bresaola! Matt, this page was referred to me by a friend in Seattle and I wanted to say that I don’t think wine is a drink (a concept developed by Anglo-Saxon non-wine cultures). Nor is it a drink to pair with food. Wine is (historically) food! A realization opens up a whole new realm of terroir! I’ll be in Seattle Feb. 17 (Tasting at The Local Vine 7-9) toasting my book Corkscrewed: Adventures in the New French Wine Country. Detes: http://www.corkscrewed.info. Hope you can make it by……Robert

  17. Hank says:

    Looks like a lovely meal! Sorry your duck breasts had not cured; they can take some time if it is humid — I have some Canada goose breasts that have needed more than a month.

    If you are ever in NorCal, I’d be happy to feed you and Danika either meat or fish: Your choice.

  18. Sounds like an absolutely amazing, unforgettable meal. Now we just need the recipes … particularly for the 18-hour pork shoulder and crackling. :)

  19. Elise says:

    What a wonderful party to have hosted with such a great group of people. That pate looks simply awesome.

  20. Melissa says:

    I’m sitting here feeling so sorry for everyone who didn’t get to experience this meal for themselves! Matt and Danika, you guys really outdid yourselves. We’re still talking about it days later…usually in the form of “Mmm, do you remember that cheese?” “Mmmm yes, do you remember that paté?” Sigh… Thank you again!!!

  21. So much fun and the dishes all looked so delish. I wish you are in SoCal, then we can have a seafood blogger dinner. ;)

  22. Heather says:

    Portland definitely lacks the scene of good food bloggers that you have up north (that I’ve found). We should do a nice long barbecue weekend sometime, and get some folks to come south! Or just meet some good Portland food bloggers. :P

  23. elra says:

    Goodness, this is such a wonderful idea. Amazing food and I can only imagine how wonderful that must have been to be one of your guest.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  24. what a wonderful looking night. i wish i was in seattle! more than that, i wish i had a bigger apartment in order to have any nyc food bloggers over. it’s almost impossible unless guests can sit on each others lap. maybe if i get them drunk enough??

  25. Peter says:

    I was told to come here for some charcuterie and I am satiated. I will be back and I envy those in attendance of this dinner.

  26. Wow–looks like you hosted an amazing evening. I wandered over here after reading about the party on MattBites, and I think I’ll have to start coming back often. Your food looks incredible and your writing is fun and engaging. Great blog!

  27. Ben says:

    Well, that looked like some special set-up! The Kampachi in the starter – I haven’t come across that here. What is it?

  28. mattwright says:

    Thank you everyone for such amazing comments. It is so great to see – especially after all the work Danika and I put in – and the distance the guests travelled to be at the party.

    I still feel truly honored to have the guest list I did – and feel the same way about all these comments.

    WoRC: I am saving some for you. I might be doing an elk bresaola next too.. ditto on that as well.

    Hank: Heck mate, I would drive to Northern California for it!!!

    Cate – the pork is dead simple, I have it in a previous post on my blog

    Melissa – I still have a slice of that pate left.. Can you believe that!!! and almost a whole duck rillette

    Rasa – my next one is going to be around seafood..

    Heather: bring it on!

    Elra – no idea what it was like to be a guest… a lot of wine was drunk, people laughed.. no one spat the food out (that I saw).. so fingers crossed people liked it

    WaNF: Renting chairs isn’t too bad I have to say, but playing musical chairs for each course would be far more entertaining!

    Peter: So far nothing I have done has come off, but thanks :D

    Jessica: MattBites is just amazing. Everyone should go check out his work, just incredible. Makes it look effortless.

    Ben:
    So Kona Kampachi is a fish that is farmed off the coast of Hawaii. It shouldn’t be confused with Kampachi, which is a similar(ish) fish that is farmed in Japan.

    Now, I am first to turn my nose up at farmed fish (especially here in the US, where fish farms are terrible), but these guys do it really right. No toxins, no chemicals, no antibiotics, large pens. Their fish is constantly tested for PCBs and Mecury, and has so far come up negative for both (a rare thing in fish these days).

    The great thing about this fish is the fat content. It is up there (maybe higher) than bluefin tuna – so you get this really luxurious mouth feel with it.

    There is one place in Seattle that stocks it (not much use to you), you can also order it online through http://www.kona-blue.com/. I have no idea if they ship to the UK or not.

    I have found them super responsive to email questions, so if it looks like you cannot get it in the UK, send them a mail.

    This is, by far, my favorite fish for eating raw. It is great cooked too, but you have to be careful – overcook it and it is bloody horrible.

  29. Clare says:

    Fantastic photos – my mouth was literally watering! What amazing hosts you guys are!! I wish I lived in Seattle. :)

  30. Wow! and Amazing! Congrats on what appears to be such a lovely night of great food and friends old and new :) I also ended up here from Mattbites, as I figured if Matt mentioned it, it must be good… I wasn’t disappointed, candy for my eyes, heart, and stomach :)

    A new fan of mattikaarts.com – Kai

  31. Chez Us says:

    I followed some crumbs over from Matt Bates – I am so glad I did. I love your site, I have been poking around a bit now. The party looks GREAT and the food sounds fantastic. I am dying to try the Kampachi, love the stuff!!!

  32. Jessamyn says:

    I realize you can’t realistically invite every food blogger in the Puget Sound region, but you sure can make us jealous! A good dinner party really can make the world seem like a better place.

  33. brilynn says:

    Oh how I wish I lived in Seattle… everything looks awesome!

  34. redmenace says:

    Wow! This is lovely! I want to come next time!

  35. Peter says:

    Looks like a righteous meal. I have found that if you trim the fat a little before hanging, the duck prosciutto dries more quickly and evenly.

  36. Poppy says:

    Matt, you commented that you wished you had found our blog earlier. Boy, do I ever wish you had especially after seeing this. Maybe next time?

  37. jealousy is a bad thing, but man, i’m so jealous! great color on the sage oil, and the pork shoulder looks outrageously good.

  38. sally says:

    Matt, you’ve passed on your own after-party buzz to us. Thanks. I love the way you’ve documented it all in writing and photographs, evidence of your own and the collective expertise of your guests. Well done.

  39. Ronald says:

    I just found your site and wanted to say I am a fan already. Your photography and writing are top notch. I will certainly enjoy reading your posts and I look forward to what comes next. You and Danika are a wonderful team, it shows brilliantly. Congratulations on a hugely successful party!

    Ronald

  40. Bea says:

    This looks like a wonderful feast, perfectly executed ! Lucky guests.

  41. keiko says:

    oh no i’ve read this post many times (with envy) and how could I forget about the wonderful pork! You’ve made too many amazing dishes here…