Expat tales… Christmas, Nutella, and saving NYE with a bit of Champagne

Greetings dear readers and friends. I’d like to take a moment to wish you a very happy and healthy New Year. As they say in France, bonne anneé and bonne santé! All of my best wishes for you and your family in 2020.

On our end, we did our fair share of eating and drinking over the holiday season – largely thanks to the good home cooking of my mother-in-law (ma belle-mere) whom we visited in the northeast of France, the Lorraine. We had a big Christmas lunch feast of turkey and stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, wild grain rice with mushrooms, a cheese plate, salad, and of course, dessert – an ice cream bûche (Yule log). And although I find it tough to keep some of my New Year’s resolutions, I definitely need to do some extra walking to shed these French kilos that crept on this holiday season.

Christmas Eve with the family in the Lorraine.

Not to mention that the home cooking went on after Christmas and extended into some Christmas market indulgences like crêpes, Nutella-topped waffles, and hot chocolate with whipped cream. We were spoiled indeed.

What’s better than a waffle with Nutella? Not a lot in this girl’s opinion…

Our New Year’s Eve was good and bad at the same time. I went out on a limb and bought lobster – something I’ve never cooked before and seriously can’t remember ever eating in my life (maybe once or twice in a salad?). Did we even have lobsters in California? I’m sure we did but I always remember thinking they were for the rich and well-to-do. Well, of course we’re neither rich nor well-to-do but I found a great offer on the little devils at the supermarket (like €7 each great… how is that even possible?). Granted, they were small, but I got my recipe together over the weekend and I was ready to take the plunge.

Cheese plate ready to go for NYE.

We would have steamed lobster on a bed of Italian black rice (that’s what makes it fancy I guess), topped with beurre blanc (butter & white wine sauce), and with julienned carrots. Maybe it sounds all swanky, but believe me, after my mother-in-law told me to buy the sauce instead of making it (too difficult!) and the rice was cooked and the carrots seasoned, it was all a breeze. For the starter, we’d decided on garlic shrimp served over small pasta shaped like stars, and then the cheese, salad, and dessert – I had my own ice cream bûche ready and waiting.

Apéro hour in the making…  

All systems were go on Tuesday night. I’d finished all the cooking and was preparing the apéro (aperitif) when it hit me… I was getting flu… and starting to feel really lousy.

I had two glasses of champagne – which I don’t recommend unless it is indeed NYE and you’re  celebrating living 10 years in a foreign country along with changing to a new decade and you won’t even get to eat that dang lobster (!) – and then I went straight to bed.

My husband ended up being the host for the night and did a pretty great job following my flurry of instructions.

Lobster with black rice, beurre blanc sauce, and carrots… a team effort.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse, and I discovered something new about cooking that I don’t think I would have learned otherwise (apart from the fact that people on internet forums have a lot to say about how to cook lobster) – sometimes the joy is all in the process of cooking. Planning, shopping, working out the kinks, and putting the whole thing together in a combination of nervousness and excitement.

People had a good time and the lobster was a hit. That made my night… and the fact that someone brought over 2 big boxes of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and pistachio macarons didn’t hurt either.

Happy New Year from belle Provence!

Tuula

Welcome to la belle Provence. I’m a 40-ish American woman & I’ve been blogging about the South of France since moving here in 2010. I live outside of a Provençal village in the Var region with my husband and daughter. I'm a big fan of cooking, French food, and all things rosé. Bienvenue!

8 thoughts on “Expat tales… Christmas, Nutella, and saving NYE with a bit of Champagne

  1. Happy New Year and congratulations on ten years in France! Always a treat to read your posts about life there. Too bad you missed out on your lobster – sounds like you’re keeping up the tradition of never having tried it… maybe in 2020. I’m off to review your older posts again as we’ve just booked another visit to the south of France in April 🙂

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    1. Hello Sue and Happy New Year 🙂 How exciting that you’ll be coming to the south of France in April. I have to say that I’m a little biased but it’s such a beautiful place. Best wishes with the trip planning and please let me know if you have any questions about anything. Bonne Année! Tuula

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  2. What a lovely article – and the photos of your family are wonderful – such a handsome family – beautiful daughter. I’m so sorry you got the flu – and at such an inconvenient time – not that any time is convenient. Loved your lobster story – reminded me of the first (and only) time I bought them. I was at the Boston airport and wanted to take a fresh lobster home. I went to the lobster kiosk and asked if they had any fresh lobster – since the ones I was looking at were grey. Gave them a good laugh – I found out that they don’t turn pink until you boil them. And, when I did boil it it was still alive and tried to crawl out of the cooker. That was enough for me. Bonne Année – and looking forward to more of your blogs.

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    1. Happy New Year Patty 🙂 Your comments always make my day. The lobster was a great learning experience, maybe I’ll give it a go for the next year… If they have a good sale on again!
      Your own lobster story is hilarious… my husband had a bit the same reaction, but in the opposite way… when I pulled out the pink lobsters he didn’t think they were cooked yet 🙂 I don’t know if I could do the live ones… but they probably taste better in the end! You are brave 🙂 Thanks for sharing and I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. 🙂 Tuula

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    1. Bonne Année Michel and thanks so much for you comment 🙂 Feeling a lot better here and I’ll know how to cook that dang lobster for the next time… Hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year, best wishes from our neck of the woods. Tuula

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