(Update: For VDP No. 6, click here)
With most of us in self-isolation or even total lockdown, a VDP (virtual dinner party) is one way to catch up with friends and to continue to test your cooking skills.
We have now had a few VDPs. Here is the link to the first of those: Virtual Dinner Party No. 1
From there you can link through to subsequent VDPs.
A week ago another couple, from Melbourne, joined us and our Adelaide friends for VDP No. 4.
Last night, for VDP No. 5 a fourth couple, from Brisbane, Zoomed in to join us. It did make for a chatty night but people understood the problems of everyone talking at the same time – fortunately we were eating much of the time, and unable to talk!
Following is our menu and running sheet.
Put together by our Melbourne friends, the menu includes two Italian dishes, a Malaysian soup and a good old family recipe for dessert. But it is also a menu that they could cope with during the VDP as they are in the middle of renovations and have limited cooking facilities – no kitchen, just a barbecue, camping stove and microwave oven. They couldn’t find their cookbooks as they were all packed away but they tracked down the recipes through perseverance, with the soup recipe eventually being kindly provided via email by the author himself.
(If you think you might give a VDP a try, at the end we give four useful web links that are worth reviewing.)
The Menu for Virtual Dinner Party No. 5
Our aim is for a menu that is easy to prepare and finish off and for dishes that are not too heavy or rich. The cicchetti are like tapas or bruschettas. We only made only one version, that with zucchini, fennel and capers. The dessert is a an old-fashioned fruit salad – substitute fresh fruit where appropriate if you wish.
(Some of the links below might not open if there is a paywall.)
Nibbles with drinks
Gino’s Venetian cicchetti – Gino D’Acampo – Recipe
Malaysian prawn and spinach soup – Gabriel Gaté – Recipe
Green vegetable pasta primavera – Adam Liaw – Recipe
Fruit salad with toasted almonds – Joan Hoy – Recipe
We all started with a sparkling/Champagne moving to pinot noir for some and shiraz for others, then a sticky white or port for dessert.
While it might seem somewhat prescriptive, the aim is to keep things moving and coordinated. The times given below are Adelaide time (half an hour behind Melbourne time). Much of the preparation is done beforehand.
The day before: Marinate the fruit salad
Adelaide time 5.00 pm (5.30 pm Melbourne)
5.00 – Prepare the stock for the soup
5.15 – Prepare the remaining ingredients for the soup
5.30 – Prepare the ingredients for the cicchetti
6.00 – Prepare the vegetables and other ingredients for the pasta
6.50 – Finish off the cicchetti
7.00 Adelaide time (7.30 pm Melbourne) – Log in via Zoom
7.01 – Raise our glasses. Cheers to us all!
7.05 – Serve cicchetti
7.15 – Finish off the soup
7.30 – Serve soup
7.45 – Water on for the pasta
7.50 – Finish off pasta sauce
8.00 – Serve main course
8.30 – Serve dessert
How it all panned out
What a lovely menu. And what a great night – we ran overtime by two hours!
The cicchetti were perfect to have with the sparkling wine: quite a light nibble; we made a small mix of mayonnaise, sour cream and chilli flakes to serve with ours. The soup was an eye opener: something that will become a standby for us, quite outstanding; it is worth learning to make prawn stock in that way; try this soup. The pasta was an interesting idea that really worked: all green coloured vegetables and herbs; the oil, stock and cream finish it off. And the dessert was an eye opener too: the flaked almonds highlighted the marinated fruit. We would recommend all dishes.
Following are some photos taken on the night, but forgive the poor quality of composition and plating as it does become rather hectic trying to keep up with everyone and still take photographs. We don’t bother to plate the dishes in a fancy way as there is no one else but us to see the results, and it does save on washing up! And because it gets a little hectic, we don’t remember to photograph every dish, or don’t have time.
Some Useful Links
If you have had your own VDP (virtual dinner party) or virtual foodie or wine experiences, we are happy to hear about them, including the menu, wines, etc (and good quality photos if you have any) and why it turned out so well.