Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Christmas and New Year's Eve Dinners in Paris


Christmas

We had our great Japanese friends over for Christmas, as we often do. Although we were only five, I made a bunch of hors d'oeuvres and a pretty big meal.

We started with my annual foie gras, made with cinq épices and white Port. This year's tasted fine, although I guess I overcooked it because it shrank by more than half from the raw liver I began with.

Then I made socca, chickpea crèpes from Nice, but my broiler was not working and the convection oven, even at 550 degrees, was not up to the task of burning and blistering them. The taste was good, though.

Finally, I made my ricotta and sun-dried tomato spread, which was a saga. It turns out it is very difficult to get ricotta in Paris, either at cheese shops or our local Italian épicerie. So I went to the Thursday market near the Bastille to the Italian/Portuguese stand, who said they had sold their three containers to one person just before I arrived. Google led me to a good Italian épicerie where the lovely guy at the counter asked if I wanted sheep, goat or cow ricotta: now that's an Italian grocery.

For dinner, I started with spaghetti alla bottarga, with great bottarga and pasta from Bon Marché. I knew this would be a hit with Japanese people, who love that fishy funky taste, and that turned out to be true.

For the main course, pork arista rolled with pancetta and rosemary, a tried and true roast. But never as good as this time, with incredibly succulent and tasty pork from our local butcher on the Rue St-Antoine.

Arista - rolled pork loin with rosemary and garlic
Then cheese: my favorite Vacherin de Mont d'Or, which was a little disappointing this year because it just wasn't quite ripe and runny enough, despite a considerable discussion at the fromagerie three days before.

Dessert was a chocolate tart with aniseed glaze from a recipe that I got from Mario Batali. Beautiful and seriously chocolatey!

Anise seed glazed chocolate tart
 New Year's Eve

We are rarely in Paris for New Year's Eve, but this year we were, and had dear old friends to dinner. J set a gorgeous table and decorated the dining area for the holiday.

New Year's Eve talble
(I made a nice meal, but stupidly took no photos. We had leftovers the next night, and the photos of that dinner will have to do.)

We started with foie gras. After the one I made for Christmas, I wanted to be sure not to overcook it, so undercooked it a bit. Still, it was pretty tasty and looked great.

Next up was a melange of roasted birds -- quail, partridge, pigeon and guinea hen -- served over polenta. From a recipe by Jamie Oliver. It turns out that non-instant polenta is just about impossible to find in Paris, but I found some good instant and made it into non-instant by very long cooking at a low temperature.

Roast of various game birds over polenta
Then a wonderful selection of cheeses brought by one of the guests: Bleu de Gex, Vieux Comté, a wonderful runny chèvre whose name escapes me and Soumaintrain.

Wonderful French cheeses: chèvre with forgotten name, Vieux Compté, Soumaintrain
For dessert we had a marvelous chocolate cake from Carette, one of the best pâtissiers in Paris, and it did not disappoint.


The next-day photos do not do the meal justice, I'm afraid, but a delicious good time was had by all.

Bobby Jay

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