Christmas time in France puts a spotlight on the wonders of the sea — including of course oysters, which are now found in all kinds of shops and supermarkets in the Greater Daglan Area. And this suits us fine.
In the past our main Christmas Eve meal has been bouillabaisse, that marvelous seafood stew from the south of France. But this year my wife Jan and I thought we’d try for something a bit simpler, and so this morning we were off to the weekly Cénac market to see what we could find.
Cénac turned out to be a disappointment, simply because the line-up at the fish counter was so long that Jan didn’t want to wait. (She did manage to buy a duck carcasse, to be made into soup eventually, plus the brussels sprouts she will be cooking for tomorrow’s feast.) So we headed off to Sarlat, where the seafood counter at the huge Carrefour supermarket was bustling. Here’s a look at the shrimps that were available:
But we were hoping for lobster — and it turned out that the seafood counter had lots of them, both live and already cooked. Here’s the display:
So we bought four already cooked lobsters (hey — they were small, so two lobsters each made sense), finished our shopping, and left Sarlat for Daglan. After a few more errands, and a fair amount of chatting with friends along the way, we reached home and started preparing our Christmas Eve lunch. For the main course, we had lobster with lemon butter, plus green beans and a mix of rices. Here’s my plate:
To accompany lunch, we thought Champagne would be in order (why not?), and it just so happened that we had a beautiful bottle of Thiénot Brut Champagne on hand — part of the Fauchon Christmas gift we had received from daughter Anne and son Mike, plus their partners James and Vanessa respectively. Here’s the Champagne:
I confess I had never heard of the house of Thiénot, but we liked the bubbly — as well as this description of the wine from the bottle’s back label:
This modern company, led by founding family Thiénot, combines refinement, fruit, and freshness in this assemblage made up of three varieties of grapes from the best Champagne vineyards. The wine develops a spring-like aroma, mingling flowers and fruit. Its distinct, delicate taste evolves into a long finale, offering a succession of orchard flavours.
In the over-the-top language of winemakers, that surely ranks pretty high. But now, on to dessert.
To finish our meal, we had purchased two pears this morning from the shop of Fabrice Le Chef in Daglan — pears that Chef had poached in spiced red wine until they were perfectly tender and absolutely delicious. (If you haven’t tried them, please do. If there are none available when you visit the shop, please ask Chef to get cooking.)
Naturally enough, Jan and I simply had to add a few spritzes of whipped cream, to create this effect:
Of course the main event of the season has to be the special Christmas lunch, and we have a blockbuster planned. So tonight’s meal will be a simple snack of oysters on the half shell. We must be ready for tomorrow.