CHRISTMAS time is a special season – and because it’s a season, it means you don’t have to limit the celebration of Christmas to just that one day, December 25.
Indeed, it would be almost impossible to mark the season with every one of your friends and family if it was only on the one day, yet so many so-called seasonal festivities seem to be just like those at any other time of the year.
Sure, you could organise a get together at someone’s home, a bar or café or wherever, but there are not many places where you can enjoy the full festive fare of the season in all its glory, and let someone else do the hard work for you.
Iririki Island Resort’s signature restaurant, Azure, is the place to head for if you do wish to spread the good cheer and great food over more than just the 25th of the twelfth.
It is serving, every day until December 23, a stunning set three-course menu that captures the spirit of the season.
Bites was lucky enough to enjoy a taste of these delights this week, and experience the delicious creations of two talented Azure chefs – executive sous chef Alick Abel, and pastry chef Frank Yassi.
These two hardworking chefs are great examples of local talents who have carved out careers as leaders in Vanuatu cuisine.
Executive sous chef Alick Abel has had more than 15 years in the hotel industry. He went to high school in Fiji before attending APTC where he gained his certification as a chef. Alick started at Le Lagon and afterwards evolved his career at Iririki. He has participated in and won culinary competitions in Vanuatu and always try to work with local product and help the local suppliers.
Pastry Chef Frank Yassi has spent more than 20 years in the hotel industry. He went to high school in Vanuatu and gained his certification at APTC, qualifying as a Real Pacific Pastry Chef, and has since put his creative talents to their best use at Azure signature restaurant at Iririki.
The much anticipated Christmas menu began with an amuse bouche (small starter) of succulent ceviche-style fish atop a crusty crouton – just the thing to wake up the taste buds and prepare them for a host of delights.
The entrée was prosciutto-wrapped grilled prawns with green mango salad and passionfruit salsa – big, juicy prawns cooked perfectly, the prosciutto adding a touch of savoury and salty, with the fresh salad and fruity dressing providing the ideal accompaniment.
For main course, Bites couldn’t go past the traditional roast turkey with a sage and chestnut seasoning. But this was not ordinary turkey – and, let’s face it, turkey can be pretty ordinary when done by a less than competent cook. No, Azure’s chef Abel’s turkey was succulent, moist and tender as could be, the stuffing subtle and the skin golden brown.
It was served with rosemary roast potatoes that were gorgeously crunchy outside, fluffy and white inside, along with home grown snake beans fresh from the garden, and rich cranberry sauce.
The alternative main is a rolled baby red snapper cooked with butter and herbs, served with manioc puree, sauteed baby spinach, grilled vegetables and a white wine saffron sauce.
Dessert is a Christmas platter – with traditional plum pudding, fruit mince pies and petit fours with rum scented crème anglaise – and it is spectacular. Every bite is a treat and the generosity of the offering certainly suits the season.
To partake of this sensational feast, the cost is VT4800 per head and bookings are essential. Call +678 35060 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org – don’t miss out on the best Christmas meal you’ll enjoy all season.
*The same menu is also being offered for Christmas Eve dinner in Azure restaurant.
Merry Christmas and bon apetit!