Chuffed? C’est nous!

The Anglophones who live full-time or most of the year in Daglan are feeling pretty chuffed today. And well we might. Yesterday’s lunch for the Club de l’Amitié (Friendship Club) was a major success, and it was all planned, prepared and served by those of us whose first language is English. We even cleaned up the Salle des Fêtes afterward.

Initially, the event had its doubters — such as, well, me. As I wrote in my previous posting:

I confess that I had my doubts from the start. I figured that the French members of the club (the majority, of course) would be less than thrilled by the thought of being served English food.  (Eggs and chips? Over-cooked cabbage?) But I stand corrected — apparently, this is going to be quite an event.

As it turned out, everything went swimmingly, the result of several planning meetings, lots of phone calls and visits, careful shopping, lots of preparation, and those familiar Anglophone characteristics, joie de vivre and savoir faire.

On both Saturday and yesterday, lots of work was involved. Some of the cooking was done in the homes of various members, and some was done at the Salles des Fêtes itself. Everyone chipped in, including yours truly, who peeled potatoes and carrots for two hours on Saturday. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the some of the prep and cooking:

Peel, chop, mix, stir -- you get the idea.

Peel, chop, mix, stir — you get the idea.

My wife Jan was one of two club members charged with making a total of 64 individual portions of English trifle, complete with Cointreau-soaked sponge on the bottom. Here’s Jan’s contribution on our kitchen counter on Sunday morning:

Strawberries top the individual servings of trifle.

Strawberries top the individual servings of trifle.

A lot of work went into the set-up of the tables, chairs, place settings and decorations for the dining hall. There was lots of red, white and blue, with bunting hanging from the rafters and various flags — including Canada’s, we’re happy to say — located around the room, like this:

Flags were placed around the hall.

Flags were placed around the hall.

All the tables were decorated in red, white and blue; menus were rolled and wrapped in ribbon, and the menus and small vases of flowers were placed on the tables. It looked impressive:

The tables looked good.

The tables looked good.

And then came the food. We began with bubbly wine with a frozen raspberry in each glass; then came carrot soup; smoked mackerel pâté; beef and carrot stew cooked with Guinness, and served with a square of puff pastry and a heap of mashed potatoes; then the individual portions of trifle;  then a selection of three English cheeses served with English biscuits; and then coffee served with After Eight mints. Oh yes, and lots of red wine from Bordeaux throughout the meal, plus J & B scotch served with the coffee, for those who wanted. (Yes, I did.)

After several hours, the hall began to clear. And as you can tell from the smiling faces, people were leaving happy:

After a long lunch, it's time to head home -- and nap.

After a long lunch, it’s time to head home — and nap.

A full day later, I think we’ve all recovered. And so now, in the late afternoon of Monday, it’s time to drive up to Castelnaud, have a coffee at La Plage, and catch some rays. Yes, the sun is shining on the Greater Daglan Area.

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6 Responses to Chuffed? C’est nous!

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Loren
    Have you heard of Rick Stein? He’s a UK chef who runs a number of seafood restaurants in the (beautiful) county of Cornwall and is a regular presenter of TV programmes.
    His latest series is a combination of travelogue and cookery programme called Rick Stein’s Long Weekends, where he embarks on a series of culinary long weekends in search of food excellence, heading to markets, restaurants, wineries, cafes and bars, etc.
    The first programme was set in Bordeaux and he visited Garopapilles, the subject of a recent blog!
    There he met Chef/Patron Gael for a selection of dishes paired with wines. First up were clams in the shell with an emulsion of smoked ham, crab with a purée of Jerusalem artichoke, herring roe with hard goats cheese and smoked bell pepper cream paired with Chateua de Charmes-Godard, a 50/50 split of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Next was veal with pan friend ceps, shallots, lardons, grapes and croutons, pumpkin ravioli with a beef stock sauce and then, preserved lemons, black olives topped with slices of truffle, truffle foam and cucumber flower. These dishes were paired with Chateau Belle-Vue, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The meal finished with caramel parfait with, caramel ice cream and pineapple sage leaf.
    It looked stunning!
    Don’t know if you can access the BBC via your PC in France but here’s a link if you can:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b078djcl/rick-steins-long-weekends-1-bordeaux
    best wishes
    Paul

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks so much. One of the great wonders (to non-techy me) of life here is that we have excellent access to British television, for free. (FreeSat. In HD yet. All kinds of British channels.) Amazing! As for Rick Stein, Jan and I are both huge fans, and did see the show on Bordeaux, including his visit to the restaurant I reviewed in RFD. We now have three of his cookbooks, based on TV programs and they are all great. One is on India. Another is on Spain. And the most recent provides recipes from his voyage that stretched from Venice to Istanbul. The latter has our (new) favourite rabbit recipe. They’re available from BBC Books, and they are well worth the money. Thanks again, and cheers!

  2. Sarah Wilson says:

    Hi Loren,
    I’m glad to hear that your event was a resounding success, bravo! Both the menu and decorations gave the occasion that special touch and were, I’m sure, appreciated by all who attended. How often does the Club de l’Amitié meet up and what activities do you do together?
    Are such groups common in the Southwest, do you know? I think this would be a lovely way to make new friends and form links with the community.
    Warm wishes,
    Sarah

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks Sarah! There are many such clubs throughout France, and the type of social occasions, and their frequency, depends on the specific location. Our club tends to organize around lunches, either in the village or out at restaurants, but also organizes trips (typically by bus) to various sites and tourist attractions. I agree that they can be really useful for meeting new friends. All the best!

  3. Lesley says:

    This so reminds me of our life back in Yorkshire when we were part of the fundraising and catering Crew in our local village halls. As they say, horses for courses, and our speciality was doing the bar. Happy days.

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