Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Rocks in Black an' White...
A week or so ago we went to dinner at a neighbour's across the road from us. Our neighbour is a lovely bloke in his early 70's and yet he still does it all himself. Célibataire officially, he is twice divorced and once-left by a long term lover, however his eyes twinkle at the girls and invariably he gets one staying over for 24 hrs on her day off and then one or two others that visit during the week. It keeps him young he says...
...and he also creates really good dishes although when for so many people as we were; eight, he will apologise and do the same menu - I have told him he needn't apologise when it is so consistently good, but he will insist and so, once again, we sat down to three "first" courses;
1) a salad of thinly sliced cucumbers in lemon juice,
2) a dish of sliced oven-softened and peeled yellow and red peppers and,
3) a superb salad of thinly sliced huge beef tomatoes grown in his own garden sprinkled with fresh herbs and usually fresh garden grown basil although for basil, this year has not for him, been too good.
This was then followed by a superb risotto with wild mushrooms. A plate of perfect cheeses, a Brie de Meaux, some chèvre, an époisses and some Abondance and then a fruit salad... except that he forgot the salad because of an overwhelming guest.
She'd done it once before; slapping a dessert, a tart of fraise or framboise into his small oven and then forgotten it. It was well overdone by the time the smell reached us as we sat in his far off sitting room drinking aperitifs of rum with home made lime quarters in dark sugar. Still, she insisted we try it, and all but the Missus did as we were told. It pissed Neighbour off no end, he is the type that would rather you didn't and again he forgot his own carefully made dessert. This time however, she turns up with her English guy in tow and again has neither asked nor suggested but just got her Anglais to prepare, cook and bring along (of all things) a Bread & Butter Pudding.
After that superbly light and refreshingly tasty meal we had to try the Bread & Butter Pudding with its rough bread crust corners pushing up through the damp and covered in sugar.
And it got to be too much. Besides which it was really not very good...
How to spoil a French dinner. Indeed it is so un-French. We were surprised when we first came to live here that guests did not bring a bottle of wine which they then expected to swig during the meal with little regard for what the cook has decided to serve as is the habit in England.
He could at least have tried Delia's luxury version.
And throughout it all, at the start of the Autumn Rugby Internationals; we realised that France was playing South Africa in Toulouse, it was on the telly and we couldn't watch it....