We love degustations and prepared many in December. And very extensive ones for Christmas eve and our departure dinner. For those who do not know what a degustation is, here is the low down...

Degustation is a culinary term meaning "a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods" and focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company. The French term dégustation is still commonly used in English-language contexts, even though a standard Anglicized spelling and pronunciation exist.

Modern dégustation probably comes from the French kitchens of the early 20th century and is different from earlier meals with many courses because these meals were served as full-sized meals at each course. Dégustation is more likely to involve sampling small portions of all of a chef's signature dishes in one sitting. Usually consisting of eight or more courses, it may be accompanied by a matching wine degustation which complements each dish.

Sampling a selection of cheeses, at home or in a restaurant, may also be called a dégustation. Three to four varieties are normally chosen, generally including a semi-soft cheese, a goat's cheese, and a blue cheese. The stronger varieties are normally tasted last. See the article "A Cheese Lover's Tour of France" from The New York Times.

The Japanese television show Iron Chef always includes a dégustation.

  • Prepare the table. Because you are doing it at home, decorate the dining table and make it look promising.
  • Have an idea of what you would want to cook. We love fusion so we don't tend to follow recipes too much. Always look at books or in our case, for inspiration. Write down your menu and imagine if you would like the flow of the courses yourself.
  • Don't plan to make complicated dishes. If you must, make or prep them a day beforehand.
  • Don't make ridiculously expensive cuts. In our case, we were cooking it for Christmas eve and so many expensive cuts were snatched up. Our best bet was to buy cheaper cuts of meat. A degustation is dependent on how you treat and cook the meat, so remember that as a rule. Most restaurants that serve degustations do not always serve expensive ingredients because there are many courses.
  • Plan your menu so that there are lighter dishes in between heavy ones.
  • Serve in small portions and go slow. Our degustations usually last a whole evening. We do not even begin our dessert till almost midnight.
  • Precook broths and sauces so they you only need to heat them up. Marinate meats and put them in room temperature way before you are going to cook them. Remember, you are also expected at the table, so do not spend too much time in the kitchen.
  • Be prepared to skip some courses. Sometimes guests get so stuffed up with the initial courses and wine, be prepared to some of them in a box and leave it for the next day.
  • If you are serving intense tasting dishes, try to have a palette cleanser in between. That could be some fruits, sorbet or a herbed salad (basil and mint are the best herbs for such salads).
  • Make sure the wine you are having go well with the dishes.

  • Roasted peppers and an assortment of home made dips with bread
  • Carrots in a sweet miso dip
  • Amuse Bouche (Rolled pork chop with cheese)
  •  Zeeland oysters, freshly shucked and served in three different dressings
    Ponzu sauce, a dash of vanilla vodka and lime, Vietnamese inspired dressing of coriander, ginger and chili vinaigrette
  • Peppery pork stew with poached garlic and infused egg
  • Mussels steamed in Thai inspired broth with lemongrass, ginger, garlic and coconut milk
  • Brussel sprouts sauteed with bacon and roasted chestnuts
  • Aged beef steak with truffle oil, and a dash of smokey whiskey
    Accompanied by caramelized sweet potato with cream sauce and a tomato relish
  • Poached pears in spiced red wine with Kaffir lime ice cream with hazelnut syrup 
  • Digestive liquer
It was a whole day of prep work but it was well worth it. We started off with champagne, and then proceeded to red wine. Yumz.

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