People always talk about their traditions at the holiday season, as if they were set in stone. What I’ve discovered over the years is that traditions change.
During our working years in Toronto, for instance, our Christmas Eve dinner was traditionally a bouillabaisse, made with (among other things) fresh fish and seafood from the St. Lawrence Market, and bottled clam juice. Now that we’re retired in France, our main meal of the day is lunch rather than dinner, and no one seems to have heard of clam juice.
So yesterday, for Christmas Eve lunch, we had seared foie gras — cooked by yours truly, and accompanied by two kinds of chutney (of which the dark cherry version was the best).
And then today, for Christmas lunch, we had a take-out meal — because restaurants in France have been closed, to try to stem the tide of this terrible pandemic. But our choice was excellent, because the take-out meal was from O Moulin in Carsac. For the holidays, it’s offering quite a varied menu, with lots of choice, from appetizers to four-course meals. In our case, we picked up the food on Thursday, before driving on to Sarlat to visit a large supermarket. When we arrived at home, the food went into our downstairs refrigerator.
For today’s lunch, Jan and I chose to begin with the foie gras poêle with a verjus and raisin sauce. The entrée came already cooked, so we just had to re-heat the sauce in a pan, and re-heat the foie in the oven. (If you’re not familiar with it, verjus is the juice of green grapes, and is used often in French cooking in place of vinegar.) So the sauce was sweet and fruity, and the foie itself was tender and delicious. Here’s my plate:
Our main course was filet mignon of veal with black truffles, accompanied by sautéed cèpes and a compression of potatoes. Again, it was just a matter of re-heating the dish in our oven. We were each offered three pieces of the veal, but decided to eat only two for lunch, saving one piece for tomorrow’s breakfast, perhaps to enjoy with a fried egg. Everything about the dish (and especially the sauce) was rich, so Jan decided to skip the cheese course that followed. Here’s my veal dish:
The cheese course looks tiny, but was so rich that it was more than enough. It was a small glass jar of Rocamadour (a local goat’s cheese) and mascarpone, sitting on a bed of chopped black truffles. For this dish, we heated the glass jar in a water bath in the oven, and I spread the cheese-and-truffle mixture over crackers. Superb!
For our dessert, we went with a homemade dish, because O Moulin’s only sweet offerings were various versions of bûche de Noël, or Yule logs, which gluten-allergic Jan cannot eat. Instead, she made a delicious tiramisu for us, using gluten-free panettone as a base. Although she used a raspberry eau-de-vie in the mixture, the predominant taste was orange, because the panettone was loaded with citrus. Here’s my serving:
All in all, this may well have been the start of a new Christmas tradition. Among other things, the crackling logs in our fireplace, and the chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot alongside our plates, contributed a lot to our dining pleasure. And now … to think ahead to our New Year’s Eve lunch.