Monday, December 27, 2010

Joyeux Noël de France

Because of this year's prolific adventuring (especially the weddings), I couldn't afford to fly home for Christmas. So, for the first time in my life, I spent the holidays away from my family.

Don't despair, however! My friend Camille invited some of my housemates and myself to her family's summer home in the south of France. Now that doesn't sound like reason for despair, does it?

View Larger Map

As I had never before been to France, Camille wanted to make sure that our trip was very French in all ways. Part of that included plenty of French music, including Henri Salvador, who is awesome:

Henri Salvador - Mademoiselle

Camille's house turned out to be a three-story country mansion situated amid low, rolling grapevine-covered hills. We really made the most of our time there, relaxing by the fire, drinking wine and eating really smelly cheeses.

For Christmas Eve, we prepared an epic French dinner. Our menu:

I was in charge of apéritif, which included dijon deviled eggs and sauteéd mushrooms. We also had fresh oysters from the local village market.

For our first course we had foie gras, followed by kebabs with scallops, shrimp and grilled peppers.

Third course was broiled salmon. Delicious. Our fourth course was a roast that the French butcher had wrapped in lard. Double-delicious.

We paired each course with a different type of wine. This all-sounds over-the-top (it kind of was) and expensive, but by preparing it ourselves, the dinner was surprisingly and unexpectedly affordable.

The next morning, we exchanged gifts. I got a large French sausage and a bar of chocolate from my housemate David!

We spent the rest of our time at Camille's sitting by the fire reading or playing cards (except for one ill-fated run in which Michael and I got lost trying to navigate the cold windy French countryside).

It was a beautiful and relaxing trip, I'm very glad for the memories and most of all it was very French. However, it was missing the thing that makes Christmas feel Chistmas-y for me, my family, and I would have loved to spend it with them. My palate may have been in France for Christmas with these ruffians, but my heart was in San Diego.