Two years ago I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a 1st Century Roman dinner at the J. Paul Getty Villa in Malibu. It was outstanding, the food, the presentation, the ambiance were amazing. I blogged about it at the time, it can be seen among my most viewed blogs on the right. This summer the Getty repeated the concept, this time with a 4th Century B.C. Sicilian meal. The fresh sourdough barley and wheat rolls were excellent, with a slight sweat taste. The roasted chickpeas above, seasoned with honey, dill seed, and coriander seed, were surprisingly delicious.
Some of history's most celebrated chefs came from Sicily and performance a la Gordon Ramsey was part of the culinary experience. Yesterday evening's menu was inspired by Archestratus of Gela, active about 350 B.C. The first course consisted of "Archestratus's Delight" a trio of fresh fish dishes; seared tune batons coated in cumin and sea salt with balmer of mackerel, garlic and vinegar, sea bass fillet coated in paste of goat cheese with Parthean asafoetida and vinegar and finally swordfish marinated in olive oil with fresh oregano and wrapped in a fig leaf. The tuna and sea bass were excellent, the swordfish a bit dry and bland.
The main course was a roast duck in Erasistratus's hyposphagma of cumin, asafoetida, honey, salt, creme fraiche and fresh herbs. Unfortunately the consensus at our table was that it was much too salty. Fresh warm broad beans were served with oinogaron dressing as a side dish, as well as a standard green salad, however with sweet boiled grape juice and fish sauce.
The dessert was Plakous, a honey-coated cheesecake with yogurt garnish. Again, no raves from our table, it was too dry, where was the cheese? The wines served were from Sicily. The red Alcesti Nero D'Avola 2010 was quite pleasant and went well with the evening's dishes. The white Alcesti Ninfea 2010 which I did not taste, seemed less popular.
Chef and Food Historian Sally Grainger had created the evening's menu.
The evening's highlight for me was being able to stroll the Villa's Peristyle Garden at night during full moon. It was magical.
The party is over, the tables are empty, the guests are gone. My tired husband patiently waiting for me to return from my moonlight stroll!