The sun was setting when the guests arrived, all four in one car. One was cold, so, after all had admired nature, a doe and a fawn on the lawn along with the beautiful, fiery sunset, she sat on the hearth right in front of the roaring fire. Her husband, though, immediately took command of the punch bowl. To the pleasure of all.
The dinner was a Caribbean dinner, so the punch was a Planter’s Punch. Not having made any punches for years, since the heyday of punches way back in the seventies, I had to look up recipes. I thought that Planter’s Punch would be the most appropriate for our Caribbean dinner party. You cannot believe how many recipes for Planter’s Punch there are. However, I came across a little West Indies rhyme, which goes:
One of sour,
Two of sweet,
Three of strong,
Four of weak.
Apparently, as long as you follow that recipe, you can call whatever you have made a Planter’s Punch. So, into the punch bowl went
500 ml of lime juice. Then, 1000 ml of a combination of mango and pomegranate juices. 750 ml of dark rum and 750 ml of coconut rum for a total of 1500 ml equalling three of strong. Topping off four of weak were a 635 ml concentrate of passion juice plus two of water – it was supposed to be diluted with three containers of water, but 500 ml of Nestlé‘s Iced Tea with Lemon worked as the fourth part of weak. I could have used another water, but I thought some other type of flavour would work and the iced tea was the first can I came across in the downstairs fridge. And yes, you mathematicians, I know 3 x 635 = 1905 + 500 = 2405, which is almost ‘five’, but, in our house, even the best printed or on-line recipes can be varied according to our will or taste. In any case, the punch must have been deemed good, for we all had several glasses of it.
And we all sat around the fire, sipping punch and nibbling on almonds, wasabi peas, two dips, one of spicy guacamole, one of puréed white beans and roasted garlic, with lentil chips, and the topper, salt cod balls with Barbadian Hot Yellow Sauce. Mmmm! Before we knew it, over an hour had passed and we called our guests to the dinner table for grace and then soup made from butternut squash, apples and onions with a mixture of maple sugar and light soy sauce (50-50) poured over it.
The two guests who asked for white, were poured a Sauvignon Blanc. However, the four who had
asked for red got my home-made Carmenere, which I thought did not taste quite as good as another of the same batch, but My Beloved deemed it just as good. Must have been the influence of the punch and hot sauces.
As the main course, My Beloved had marinated boneless, skinless chicken thighs (much tastier, we think, than breasts) in jerk spices, and these were cooked just before we had the soup, giving them time to rest. I’m never sure why we use the term ‘rest’ for dead meat: can dead meat really rest? Along with the jerk chicken, we had a slaw with red cabbage, green cabbage, apple, onion and a few othe
r ingredients, and a sweet potato salad with cucumber, green onions, olive oil, cilantro and lime juice. No potato, but spinach roti on the side was a fair, if not good, substitute.
As for dessert, the host prepared, and was watched intently by his guests, bananas flambé. In one cast iron fry pan, halved bananas were sautéed in butter and a little olive oil for about three minutes per side. After removing the bananas and setting them on a plate (actually Spanish earthenware dishes) along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a quantity of pomegranate juice was poured into the butter and oil mixture along with a teaspoon or a little more of corn starch, which was whisked into the sauce to thicken it. Meanwhile, in a second small cast iron fry pan, a quantity of dark rum and coconut rum was heated with several guests ready to use the fire extinguisher!! Oh, ye of little faith! Then a match was set to the liquor.
Only, it didn’t catch fire. Oh, the shame of it! I had let all the alcohol evaporate while whisking the sauce and pouring it over the bananas. Not dismayed, I grabbed a bottle of my favourite Spanish brandy, Fundador, and poured a good quantity into the liquor in the fry pan. Well, the lighted match really did the trick this time and, no, the fire extinguisher was not required, so the flaming sauce was poured over the bananas. The final touch was to grate dark chocolate over the ice cream. Everyone enjoyed. Someone remarked that it was the quietest time of the dinner.
Tea and coffee with more Carmenere for one, Drambuie for one and Fundador for me.
The driver and a couple of other guests declined.
We moved back to the more comfortable seats around the fire and for the next hour and a half we sorted out the world’s problems.
A delectable dinner with delightful guests, who are always welcome at our house!