How long has it been since getting together with the foodies for a feast? Too long! We were definitely overdue.
Caroline and Jim hosted Dick, Maureen, Rob and me. The theme was French food and wine, proving you don't necessarily need to travel to France to enjoy cuisine magnafique.
Full menu: apéro/amuse bouches, entrée, plat principal, fromages, déssert. One plate following another, offering up flavour, colour, texture & temperatures to please.
Each couple was to bring an amuse bouche, and I admit the assignment intimidated me. The literal French translation is, (it) entertains (the) mouth. More than an appetizer, it is to be an offer of the chef's creativity.
Caroline's amuse bouche was savoury gougère. She dolloped the cheesy choux pastry into a muffin pan and they puffed up like yellow clouds. Served fresh from the oven, warm and fragrant.
The contrasts between the warm gougère and the chilled bubbly Crémant de Bourgogne brought out the best in each other. The crémant lived up to its name, creamier than a prosecco, absolutely fizzing with tiny bubbles, and tasty indeed.
Maureen's amuse bouche were gorgeously presented in shot glasses, layered with verrine avocat, fromage blanc, saumon fumré. Colourful, flavourful, and portioned to leave you wanting more. A plate of salmon, dill and crackers were also served alongside white burgundy. Delightful mouthfuls.
After much browsing on the internet, I was overwhelmed by possible combinations for amuse bouche and ended up at McEwan Grocery, like a kid in a candy store, looking for epicurean delights that would offer a flavour punch. Hard to decide, but in the end I plated polenta with wild boar,
edible flowers, sunflower greens, and a spoonful of apple sauce with
For the entrée, I brought a nested zucchini and sweet potato tart, with a dollop of creme fraiche, a small salad of heirloom carrots and bright green peas. Paired with Vin D'Alsace Stephane Berg Riesling, which was a Gold Medal Winner at Concours General Agricole Paris 2014.
Ah, the main! Caroline prepared gigôt d'agneau de Monsieur Henry: leg of lamb grilled over wine
infused scalloped potatoes with onion, garlic, mushrooms, sundried
tomatoes + tower of celery root, Swiss chard and roasted red pepper. Matched with Delas Saint-Espirit Côtes du Rhône.
Then came the fromage: Saint Agur, Époisses, Délice de Bourgogne, Reblochon and Comté. Offered with St-Rémy brandy, Hennessy cognac, and Grand Marnier.
How could anyone not be sated after such an incredible meal?
To aid digestion Caroline and I stayed up for a dip in the steaming hot tub under a clear starry sky. Luckily it was just a walk down the hall to a comfy bed. My head hit the pillow around 2 a.m. and I slept soundly until Rob woke me at 7 a.m., to watch wild turkeys parading around the pond, a huge tom leading a group of seven hens.
Maureen's apple tart had been planned for déssert the night before, but everyone reached a point where we couldn't eat another bite. So it was served for breakfast, with ice cream as intended. This might have been the first time I had ice cream for breakfast but it won't be the last! There was also brioche, coffee and fresh eggs. One egg so fresh it had been laid only minutes before.
Caroline's hens and rooster were the morning's entertainment, clucking and crowing around the yard... was this the same place we were snowshoeing only the month before? Sun shining. Dick said the grass was greening before our eyes - and it really was.
No winter coats necessary. I saw my first butterfly of the the year!
What's not to celebrate?