Christmas and New Year… where to start?
I kind of feel like I am still recovering from the Christmas and New Year now. When it comes to Christmas, the French really know how to do things properly! Christmas here is usualy a Family event, whereas New Years is mainly seen as a time to be with Friends.
Christmas Eve is the main event here in France. I spent Christmas Eve with the Father of my Fiance and her Uncle, Aunt and Cousins. The festivities lead you up to midnight (if you make it), when everyone then opens their Christmas presents. As expected, the food was incredible. We started with an aperitif of Frois Gras, and small cheeses with a warming glass of Whisky. Next it was Smoked Salmon and then Oysters (from 2 different regions) cockles and Sea Urchins, with a light and fruity white wine. It is then commonplace to have a few shots of a strong alcohol to cleanse you pallet for the main course. For this we had a 30-year-old Whisky…lovely. For the main course we had small chickens stuffed with Frois Gras and cooked in the oven wrapped in puff pastry. To accompany this we had a lovely deep Bordeaux Red wine. After there were the traditional 13 deserts, which this year had turned into 14 deserts as I had prepared some Welsh cakes to give a little British ouch to the meal. To accompany this we had a lovely sweet desert wine, followed by a selection of cheeses to finish – although I was far to full at this point to eat anymore!
I have to confess to peaking slightly early for this, due to the mix of alcohols and tiredness kicking in. By the time we approached midnight I was ready for my bed! Oh dear…
We eventually got back to the flat around 2:30am and went to bed absolutely stuffed and a little worse for wear, safe in the knowledge that the next day we would have exactly the same to look forward to, with even more food planned!
Christmas day was spent with my Fiancés Mother, Partner and his Children. This menu has seemingly been planned months in advance, and judging by the spread of food which greeted us when we entered her house the preparations had begun a week before! There was so much food that the bedrooms had been used to contain future courses!
This meal turned out to be one of the most spectacular eating experiences of my life! I can’t go into everything we ate, but there was plenty more seafood as well as traditional Provencal pigs trotters and tripe in a tomato and white wine sauce (Not great in my opinion!) and Roast Beef with Frois Gras crackling. The meal was so extensive it took us the best part of 6 hours to eat and was 6 courses in total. I have no idea of the cost of all the food, but I would guess it ran into many hundreds of Euros.
My Fiance with the festive doggy
I must confess to never being much of a fan of New Years eve. It always seems like a lot of hype and anticipation, and always feels like a bit of an anti-climax. I can’t remember the last time I had a great New Years back in England, so I didn’t hold out much hope for this year. We were invited to a friend’s house party in the Malmousque area of Marseille, near to our flat and the coast. The evening turned out to fantastic, with a lovely group of people.
We started of by eating a traditional Raclette which is basically melted cheese on different types of Charcuterie and boiled potatoes. The Cheese is melted in a special grill set. You can then pour the cheese over the meat and potatoes. We also had a lovely fresh salad and bread to go with this.
The rest of the evening was spent chatting, dancing, laughing and playing music into the small hours. We even had an impromptu jam session at 5 am outside featuring an accordion, guitar and a trumpet (which none of us could play – leading to some very funny sounds!). We eventually got home at around 6am, having had a fantastic night with lovely people.
One last thing… I have been looking after a couple of cats for friends who live close by, as they are currently on holiday. Look at how cute this little guy is! Awwww…