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Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Pork Boys Do My Birthday

The festive board awaits.

Even though it wasn't the actual date, last night my best friend M.P. employed all his considerable talents of cookery to make a fabulous birthday dinner for yours truly, and went out his way to prepare some rather elaborate dishes that are particular favorites of mine, or just things he thought I would like, and he was right. He made nearly everything from scratch, too. We didn't take many photos of the food, mainly because it was too damn good to wait for a camera! But here's some pics of his lovely table setting and such, and I'll give the menu as we go down:

Candle and flowers

We began with the hors d'oeuvre, coconut shrimp soaked in coconut milk, of course, and dredged in shredded coconut as well as homemade panko breading - although M.P. has discovered a secret process for making the latter, which I'm not at liberty to reveal. But I can tell you that the finished product looks and smells and tastes exactly like what you would expect to find in a very nice restaurant. For dipping, we had two sauces: hot buttermilk ranch dip, and sweet pineapple sauce. Oh my, fellas - if he hadn't cooked another blessed thing, I would have been more than satisfied with just that plate of delectable shrimp, I tell you what.

Table setting with new soup bowls of an old bamboo pattern
and flowers from M.P.'s garden

Next came the appetizer: hibiscus soup, accompanied by homemade egg rolls stuffed with pork and assorted vegetables. Yes, I said hibiscus soup, with tiny pieces of dried hibiscus petals and some egg noodles in it. Like nothing I've ever had before, and in a word: marvelous. I highly recommend it.

English crystal, Bavarian china, French tureen; the center plate was a favorite
of M.P.'s mother's, and he recently found the two matching plates to go with it

Next came the entrée: one of my all-time favorites, a scrumptious serving of General Tso's chicken, with a generous helping, straight from the wok, of steaming fried rice, of course, and homemade dim sum rolls served with little ramekins of melted butter on the side.

The last peace rose from my garden made a lovely complement
to the pink roses M.P. had in this simple vase

At length, several hours after we began to eat - the Pork Boys are very French in their attitudes toward food, and believe strongly in the virtues of lingering over every dish and truly savoring things - came the main course: the mouthwatering treat of a whole crisply-roasted duck stuffed with assorted herbs fresh from M.P.'s garden, with my favorite little green lima beans on the side. Slow-roasted for hours, the duck was as tender as could be and simply melted in the mouth. Oh my, believe me fellas when I say it was beyond good. Oh, and I must not omit to praise the lovely lemon gravy that came with it, made with some pan drippings from the roasted duck. Larruppin' good!

After we had eaten all the duck we could hold, and before dessert, a delightful palate cleanser: a single pink scoop of homemade sorbet, made with apple juice and pomegranate, among other ingredients, all whipped together by hand and frozen slowly in the 18th-century manner. Like nectar of the gods, truly.

Finally, the pièce de résistance

Finalement, when the night was far gone, came the last and prettiest creation of all: M.P.'s divine French fruit cake, topped and layered with very thin slices of pineapple, peaches, and strawberries, and covered with a cream-cheese icing. Boys, it's not anything like American fruit cake, which I despise, and all I can say further is this: you ain't never had anything this good in your mouth.

I brought White Zinfandel, Budweiser, coffee, milk, and cigarettes - which was the least I could do.  M.P. wouldn't let me help with a thing otherwise.

And so ended the prettiest, most delicious birthday meal I can ever remember. Thanks, M.P. - merci mille fois pour tout, mon ami.


Ray's Cowboy said...

Happy Birthday. I am glad you have a wonderful freind that would do somethign as nice as what he did for you. Congrats.


David said...

I think I say this in response to every Pork Boys post, but you all really live well.

Happy birthday boy!

Davis said...

Many happy returns!

Russ Manley said...

Thanks, guys.

Mareczku said...

Happy Birthday. Sounds like a fabulous meal. Peace and blessings to you.


Russ Manley said...

Thanks Mark, it really was fabulous.

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