Back to “real” food — if only for a weekend

Just in case you’ve lost track, I had spinal surgery on Monday, April 14 at an exceptional clinic in Toulouse, and was then transferred by ambulance to another exceptional clinic in the tiny village of Montfaucon on Wednesday, April 30, for ongoing physiotherapy. Which continues.

So it wasn’t until this past weekend that I’d even seen our home in Daglan. And of course, I hadn’t been able to enjoy “real” (that is, not made in a hospital) food. But this past weekend, I was allowed to transfer home for one night and two days, and my wife Jan had planned a number of delicious meals to make me very happy.

Funnily enough, Jan asked me about my desire for food just a couple of days after the surgery: Had my appetite returned? “Not really,” I replied, “but last night as I was falling asleep, I suddenly developed a taste for your fettuccine Natasha.” So naturally, that was one of the dishes we enjoyed this weekend.

Our weekend of real food began with a very late lunch on Saturday. For reasons undecipherable to me, the “permission” for the weekend doesn’t officially begin until 2 p.m. on Saturday. By the time I got home (by taxi) and was settled, it was going on 3 p.m.

In any case, we made our way through a delicious main course of lamb curry, served with Indian-style cauliflower and Jan’s lovely saffron rice. Accompanied, of course, by a bottle of white wine — my first taste of anything alcoholic since our lunch at Le Petit Paris in Daglan on April 13. For dessert, Jan had made one of our favourites, her semifreddo, a sort of Italian ice cream, which she serves with a caramel-and-espresso sauce. Superb!

In the early evening, neighbouring friends Elisabeth and Gerhard visited — which as you might guess, turned into a few hours of enjoying my traditional cocktail of a dry martini, followed by yet more white wine, along with the gourmet touches of potato chips and mixed nuts. (Later, after they left, I did have scrambled eggs, a piece of toast, and a small milk. I know — health nut!)

Sunday began with my requested breakfast of French toast (pain perdu), drizzled with real Canadian maple syrup (Maple Joe brand, if you must know). I managed to do the washing up, while Jan took advantage of the sunshine and had a nice long walk. And then it was lunch time.

It being Sunday, and a celebration of my temporary freedom, it was inevitable that Jan had a very nice bottle of Champagne chilled and ready to go. I had my first glass as an apéritif, mixed with a bit of Framboise syrup — a raspberry-flavoured kir royale.  And then it was pure Champagne to accompany the fettuccine Natasha, shown here:

If the topping is caviar, what's underneath is usually good too.

If the topping is caviar, what’s underneath is usually good too.

The dish is simple, and simply delicious. If you’re not a cook, just think of this as smoked salmon in a creamy sauce over fettuccine pasta. But if you’re cook-ish, and you’d like to give it a try, the recipe goes pretty much like this: slice and sauté an onion; then add some minced tomato that’s been seeded and peeled; then some chunks of smoked salmon; and then a dash of vodka (this where the “Natasha” comes in, although Jan uses light rum instead, because vodka contains gluten, and she is allergic). After cooking for a few minutes, add heavy cream, and continue cooking to reduce the sauce. You probably won’t need salt (because of the smoked salmon) but you can add pepper and parsley flakes, and then mix the sauce with cooked fettuccine. Top with a spoonful of caviar (lumpfish caviar would be just fine). It’s outstanding, with or without Champagne.

For dessert, Jan had bought mara des bois strawberries at Daglan’s Sunday market that very morning. She drizzled the berries with just a little Grand Marnier, and served them in a bowl with a slice of her wonderful semifreddo. Here’s my serving:

And for dessert ... strawberries from the Daglan market.

And for dessert … strawberries from the Daglan market.

And so our Sunday together began drawing to a close. We had time for a visit up to Daglan’s main square, La Place de la Liberté, for a ceremony honouring our new Mayor; then a martini; and then my taxi arrived for the trip back here to La Roseraie, the clinic where I’ll spend the remainder of this week. Next weekend, I’ll have another pass to go home, and Jan and I are already planning which restaurant(s) we want to visit.

Meanwhile, I’ll have more on that ceremony honouring our Mayor. Watch for my posting tomorrow.

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4 Responses to Back to “real” food — if only for a weekend

  1. Hal says:

    I am Celiac –tell your wife that on Vancouver Island I can buy Luksusowa Potato Vodka produced and bottled in Poland —I understand it is gluten free—did she use gluten free pasta for your fettuccini ? Stay well !

  2. loren24250 says:

    Hi there and thanks. As for gluten-free pasta, we’ve been using it for years, and we have no trouble obtaining it in nearby St. Cybranet, at the “bio” (organic) store. As for g-f vodka, I did buy supposedly g-f vodka (made from potatoes, in Poland) when we lived in Toronto, and Jan had a negative reaction. So we just stay away from it. There is a legitimate gluten-free vodka made in France — from grapes — but we can’t seem to find it here. We are told it’s sold only in very high-end (costly) outlets, like airport shops.

  3. Shirley and Kevin says:

    Hello Loren, You are correct….the product is CÎROC. It’s a Premium Vodka crafted from fine, succulent French grapes, distilled a fifth time at the Distillerie de Chevanceaux in southwest France. It can be easily found in most airport duty free shops 🙂
    Jan’s delicious cooking….your taste buds must have been dancing with excitement! Thanks for the “Fettuccine Natasha” recipe, we will for sure try it….and with the champagne, of course!

  4. loren24250 says:

    Thanks Shirley. Of course you’re right about Ciroc — you’re the expert! When I was replying (above) I had just forgotten the name. It’s good stuff. And I’m sure you’ll like the fettuccine Natasha!

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