Saturday, December 26, 2009
We were invited to have Christmas supper with our dear friends, Andrew and Arlette, we were to bring Foi gras, Bouches, and Wine. Busche is the traditional Provencal Christmas dessert log, made with a chocolate mousse type interior and a hard chocolate shell decorated either to look like a tree log, or a modern interpretation with different chocolate symbols. Arlette’s son Nicola would also be there.
We arrived and their place looked incredible, their alabaster light in the corner table set the light tone, around the room they had placed candle votives. Their tree was set up in another corner, very sheik. The table was set, and tied the room together. We sat around and visited, with no sense of being on a set timetable. Young Caleigh was allowed to open one of her gifts earlier, a pair of shoes with a modest heel, tres sheik for a newly turned thirteen year old. But she wore them well, and it gave her cohort Arlette a chance to compare and discuss at length the different design concepts and fashions of the day. Arlette has the same shoe size as Caleigh and the same love of anything shoe related, they are quite the mini Imelda Marcos wannabes. It would take a novel to describe Arlette, the most incredible woman Cindy or I have ever met. She is the most giving, smart, beautiful, hysterical, individual you could ever meet, a real spark plug. She could turn a morgue in Madagascar into studio 54. Andrew and Nick were talking about Nicola’s growing up in the states, and Antibes, as Cindy and I relaxed and took it all in and relaxed. I opened up the Rothchilds-Lafite and poured a glass to all, except Caleigh. Enjoyed it thoroughly,
Next we sat down at the table and started what was to be three hours of casually eating a course slowly, and enjoying all the different people, followed by another course and talking to another person casually and really enjoying the tastes. I think we started with Canard Fois-gras, with fig jam, and baguette, then Pate’ rilette de la Mans, then the most delicate thinly sliced Jambon, (ham). Next there was a tray of salmon with lemon and a cream cheese like spread, with homemade mayonnaise. Then after a bit Scallops that were slightly caramelized, with butter, Italian parsley, a little garlic and a touch of honey, they were the most tender scallops and tasted to die for, and were served with sautéed mushrooms with butter, olive oil, garlic, and parsley with a little crème fraiche. At some point in there I opened the Saint Emilion, very good company to the Lafite. I was so conscious of what an incredible evening this was turning out to be that after the canard Fois gras, as I was putting down my wine glass with some Lafite in it, I accidentally spilled some of it onto Arlette’s plate beside me. Luckily it stayed on her empty plate and didn’t land on her beautiful table cloth, and had a good laugh as of all people I don’t have a record of being clumsy, but I’m always telling Caleigh to watch what she’s doing, Nice.
After the right amount of time Andrew and Arlette brought out the traditional thirteen desserts, we sat there with our mouths open for about five minutes and tried to imagine how to fit it all in, heavens. There were small delicate chocolates from the local famous cholocatier, Nuts of almost every kind, Tiny delicious Tangerines from the Isle of Corsica, of course the Bouches, ( chocolate log ), Figs, dates stuffed with marsapan, I can’t even do justice to these evil little pieces of heaven. After the holiday feast we rolled over to their living room and passed out………….some gifts. I was delighted to receive from Andrew and Arlette a very nice very warm scarf, noir, my favorite shade. Little Caleigh got a couple Frence versions of Tiger beat, a sheik cosmetic case complete with French womens war paint, a scarf and hat combo. Cindy received a very nice custom picked basket by Arlette and Andrew of all the best local delicacies, Chevaliers D‘argouges Chocolates Assortiments, Maille Au Cassis de Dijon ( spicy mustard) LeSavoureux Thon a L’Huile D”Olive ( The best Tuna), a package of four goat cheeses, C’evennes d’Ardeche ( dried pork sausage, A must have) and Vergers des Alpilles Figue rouge ( red fig preserve, can’t even describe the taste….mnn) , and a bottle of Ste. Emiliom wine that we had on our picinic at Gourdons ( a hilltop medieval Village high above Provence overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with Andrew and Arlette, the next day.) Arlette got from Cindy a pair of Vintage Red leather Gloves from a shop in Antibes, Andrew received a custom blend of fine coffee from us, and a very nice hat from Arlette. Nicola was given a very smart coat from Arlette, always the eye for nice fashion.
It was a Christmas Eve that happened a day ago, but in my mind will last a lifetime.