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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!