Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Great Christmas Feasting 2006

I always love hearing what other people eat at Christmas and have been reading some salivating accounts of scrumptious dishes on various blogs. Here, therefore is my version of the Great Christmas Feasting 2006.

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.
We had a gastronomic feast, making the most out of both French and English traditions. Isn't that the best way to live?

Taking that which is good wherever you find it?


  1. Gosh, I admire your having tackled such fiddly vegetable recipes! I did plain steamed carrots and sprouts because the rest of our meal was so rich... (snail vol au vents, oysters, foie gras, roast pintade). Also I had the kids under my feet so was lacking the time. I would like to do a proper grown up Christmas meal one day!

  2. My mouth's watering. I'm afraid we had the same old, same old...
    H. insists on traditional but I think I'd enjoy something more adventurous.

  3. The fiddliest, most annoying recipe was actually the bread sauce. It was very labour intensive just at the critical moment when all the veggies needed attention. Definitely one to be prepared in advance next time!

    Being able to have adult Christmases is one of the advantages of getting divorced, but that is a bit drastic...

  4. Chaque minute, malgre mes doigts, fut une delice, ma chérie! It's such a pleasure to do very good food for people who know what very good food is! It's such a delight to drink priceless Champagne and wine with people who know what it is too.

    And your Brit Christmas dejeuner is quite the most wonderful tasty Christmas I every had since I was a child...but of course when I was a child there were non of that fantastique family warmth which went with your extraordinary meal.

    I won't be forgetting that one, I can tell you, and before my hands gave up I used to have a go! Thze Christmas mael and New Year Reveillon took me at least two weeks to get going - and talbe to knock you breath away. I am, and always was an epicurienne.

    The brussels sprouts were incredible, and the bread sauce - everything actually. And the Christmas Pud.....mmmmmmmm and the Brandy Sauce.....ahhhhhhh.

    It should not be allowed to have so much fun and pleasure!

    What a luvely, luvely Christmas.

    Thank you for coming to mine, and thank you for letting me join yours.....what a happy NG.

  5. I've given up making so much effort. My wayward froggy husband used to claim he loved English cooking and I used to do the lot - I even made my own round Christmas pudding one year. Now that he claims not to love his English wife anymore, I've no-one to cook for properly:-( My girls hate bread sauce and sprouts and mince pies - they're not even keen on Christmas cake... Well, never mind - I usually eat it all myself! Happy New Year!

  6. Thanks, NG, it was terrific fun going to such trouble! Gigi, I sympathise. My ex-h's family didn't give a damn about my Christmas. I was told not to go to too much bother for them. What they didn't realise was that I was going to the bother for ME and just expected them to play along, like I had to with their fetes...


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