Christmas Eve took place chez NG who describes herself as a French hybrid and declares she makes the best foie gras in the county. We were pretty keen to test her out, although, to be honest I do not have much to compare with as I usually buy pots of the stuff already prepared. NG has been giving elegant dinner parties forever and can not only prepare delicious food, but she presents it beautifully on one of those perfectly decorated tables. We felt very 'Home & Garden'.
Christmas Eve/Réveillon Dinner was thus :
- An aperitif of nibbles of guacamole, and salmon mousse with linseed bread; magret de canard snippets on sticks, and fine champagne.
- We then moved to the work of art that was the table, and started with mise en bouche. Before she developed a very nasty bone disease, NG used to make these exquisite mouthfuls set in tiny dishes herself, but cannot now do this because the fiddliness of putting them together is too much for her painfully swollen finger joints.
- These were followed by her famous foie gras mi-cuit which, I have to say, was simply utterly delicious. It was rich, but wasn't greasy, and at the same time had a wonderful finesse of taste with perfumes that were revealed in the aftertaste as it slipped silkily down the hatch.
- When the champagne bottle was empty, we continued with one of my three bottles of Chateau Margaux, which, as it came into contact with the palette, vied with the foie gras in silkiness. It's not often we drink such wine, and it was thus all the more appreciated as a rare pleasure.
- Dinner continued with gravlax and giant prawns, salade de magret de canard et noix, and freshly baked rolls from the artisan boulanger over the road. A heart-shaped camembert au lait cru preceeded dessert of exotic fruit salad, a pleasantly refreshing end to the meal.
We ate, not at midnight, but around 8pm which meant we could all get a decent night's sleep having digested properly.
Christmas Day's lunch was at my house and traditionally English. The table was laid with the best porcelaine, crystal and cutlery; remnants of wedding gifts, on an overtly Christmassy table cloth in red, green and gold thread. Festive although lacking a certain finesse...
- We started with Florida Cocktail. To this traditional Hague version of fresh segments of orange and grapefruit we added fresh lychees for the RA. It is simply the best way to prepare for the onslaught of the rest of the meal. Refreshing, cleansing, and you should always eat fruit at the start of a heavy meal rather than the end to stop it fermenting in your stomach.
- The roast turkey was stuffed with a French farce of chestnuts tossed in cream with fried shallots and doused liberally with cognac. I placed bacon slices over the breast until it was time to brown the skin, and cooked it at 190°C for around 2.5hrs plus resting time. It came out moist and perfectly cooked.
- The turkey was accompanied by Nigella Lawson recipes of roast potatoes dusted with semolina, parsnips roasted with maple syrup, and her wonderful sprouts dish with fried bacon, chestnuts, cognac and parsley. I strongly recommend this way to eat sprouts. It has to be the best way ever! We also had a purée of potato and celeriac; bread sauce, gravy, steamed broccolli, chipolatas, and devils on angels' horseback made with prunes we'd soaked in cognac for 12 hours. There was a certain themed ingredient to our meal as you can see...
- Pudding was the classic super scrumptious one and only English Christmas Pudding! We served it with... cognac butter, and cream.
- To drink, we started with champagne, finished the end of the Margaux from the previous day, and continued with the Mailhol from Domaine Henry that we had bought during the Fête de Vin. We opened the Passerille to go with the pudding, and were pleased to note that it went beautifully.
Taking that which is good wherever you find it?