Happiest new year’s wishes to everyone! We have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming in the new year of 2016 in France.
We were graciously invited to a private NY Eve party and were greeted with flowing champagne. While we became acquainted and exchanged stories with 17 of our newest friends from Holland, Germany, France, and Belgium, our hostess introduced us to a Dutch New Year’s tradition of a MOUNTAIN of deep-fried “Oliebollen,” (or oil balls), a pastry similar to a doughnut. Decadent and delicious!
Then we were treated to the host’s German New Year’s tradition of his fabulous homemade potato salad. Accompanied with Dutch bratwurst, an amazing salad plate, and an even more unbelievable cheese plate! Yum!
After several hours of getting to know each other, we counted down and toasted to the New Year. Then something spectacular took place. Each person in the room went around and either shook hands or exchanged bises with every other person in the room, with well wishes for the New Year. An amazing personal connection with each and every person at the party. Magical. So simple, yet something Americans just don’t do.
The next afternoon we enjoyed sharing a Galette des Rois and a bottle of champagne at another couple’s home, she from California and he from France. A galette is basically a frangipane tart made with pastry, butter, ground almonds and a few extra ingredients that stretched our already bursting waistlines. It’s historically eaten on January 6th to mark the feast of the Epiphany, the day the wise men allegedly brought gifts to Baby Jesus, but we beat it by a few days! It’s not simply a pastry…there is a small charm hidden inside the cake and whoever finds the ‘féve’ in their slice is named king or queen of the feast.
Yesterday the holidays continued with an absolutely delightful 4-hour meal with more new friends from Scotland, England, and France, at a Farm that is a special little piece of Dordogne heaven in the hills not far from here. It is a Perigordine gastronomic landmark! Their TODAY’S MENU is “Hospitality with a smile and fine home cooking featuring delicious local specialties.”
The crazy eclectic décor, collected by the lively owner, Yanick, from his travels and interests, are a delight! And the food. Wow! There are no menus, as you eat what they have prepared that day. If I can remember correctly, we started with a very refined version of the local Garlic Soup. That was followed by an amazing terrine of creamy foie gras and bread, then by a seemingly bottomless salad full of surprises. Then we started on the main course of seared beef, potatoes prepared in duck fat, and sautéed exotic vegetables. Coupled with copious amounts of local wines in red and white. We then luxuriated in the local cheese plate, my favorite being a fresh goat cheese on bread with local honey. We finally ended the feast with an exquisite interpretation of creme brûlée and coffee.
As you can see from our collection of new international contacts in France, we have little problem in the social communications department. So much fun!!!