[Jude shared the following email with friends and family. All I can say is the French really know how to throw a good party. With a little help from the Germans, of course. :-) ]
I have to share with you the New Years Eve gastronomic extravaganza we enjoyed, and after which, during the early morning hours paid a wee price for!
Chris and I had accepted the invitation of our French friends, Claude and Renate, for a New Year's Eve theater performance and a "light" dinner in their apartment afterwards. There would be eight of us in all, a nice size group to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year. Claude is 100% Parisien, born and raised in the neighborhood where he and Renate have their apartment. Renate was born in Germany, Berlin to be exact, and has dual citizenship. Claude is passionately French and Renate is passionately German. They have a wonderful blend of the French and the German cultures in their marriage. I mention this specifically because it lays the foundation of understanding of the festivities and meal we all enjoyed.
I was asked to prepare les gâteaux apéritif for the starter course. I had to do a bit of research as to what I was being asked to bring. Figured that out and after stewing over recipes I decided to do my now standard take to the party dish.
Our day preparing for what we knew would be a late night included taking an afternoon nap. We then put together the appetizers and added a little spit shine to our boots and for Chris some wax to his mustache. 7:20 pm we start our walk up the hill, about 10 blocks to Renate and Claude's apartment. Chris is the family pack mule so he carried the platter of appetizers and well as a sack with two bottles of Champagne.
The evening started out at a small neighborhood theater where we saw an 8:30 pm extreme acrobatics performance. That performance was a bit over one hour in length. After that we walked back to Claude and Renate's apartment for our New Years Eve dinner.
At 10pm we started out with my aperitif, which was a thin slice of baguette, smoked duck breast, mascrapone,and a dollop of cherry confit (jam), served with champagne. There were 8 of us and we ate all 24 servings. While we were having the appetizers Claude lit the candles on their real Christmas tree. The candles are a German tradition, and so we enjoy the German culture while eating and drinking like French people. The tree also had an antique German tree stand, beautifully carved silver, and before we knew it Renate had the tree rotating and the tree stand was playing traditional German Christmas Carols. The tree stand was actually a giant music box, circa 1800s. After finishing the appetizers and the first round of Champagne we moved to the dinner table.
First course, fresh marinaded salmon, served in large thin slices. Then we were passed lemon wedges and literally a piece of white bread, dry toasted. The butter for the bread was the one with salt crystals in it. Boy oh boy. Can we taste fresh beautiful salmon? More Champagne!
Well what do you know, it is now midnight and we toast the New Year bis everyone (kiss) and then we sat back down and moved on with the meal.
Next up was the main plate which was a rustic large spicy sausage and boiled potatoes. The sausage was sliced in thickly and we passed the plate to serve ourselves. On top of the potatoes and sausage we put a very special sauce from the Jura region of France. For the Jura region, think mountains and German style sausages. The sauce was made with a very light milk, half cream and cheese, light but flavorful. Never had anything like it before. With this we had a light red wine also of the Jura region. Plus more Champagne, oh and an occasional glass of mineral water...yep with gaz. Burp, ahh now we are finished, but no! Now the plate of sausage and potatoes reappears and everyone has seconds!
Throughout the entire meal we are laughing and chatting in French. Whee! But we are not nearly finished with the meal. Nope, after the main plate we move onto the cheese and salad plates. Three types of cheese, a Blue, a Compte and a Brie. The salad was mache. More baguette and more wine and champagne. I am by now just drinking mineral water.
The grand finale was the most beautiful art object of a cake. Here's where I had to break rank and eat a very tasty rice cake with chocolate and a sweet clementine. Chris described the cake, which was several layers, long rectangular shaped cake, layers of light whipped cream, red fruit combo jam type yumminess, chocolate mousse, then chocolate cake, then a light cookie type thin crust and on the bottom a slab of dark chocolate. Killer cake! Beautiful and Delicious!
Now it is 2:15 am and coffee must be served. I passed on that, just way to late for me. We left their house at 3:15 am, having arrived at 7:30 pm! We walked down the hill marveling at the incredible experience we had. 5 am was another story with us waking and both of us not feeling very good. Just way too much food, wine ,champagne, and chemicals I'm sure. We staggered out of bed at noon, and we will be recuperating today.
Happy New Year!