Friday 4 January 2008


The aftermath of the holidays, and the inside of the fridge is now just starting to become visible again. Gone are the shoulders and legs of lamb, the Duck, the Scallops, the various Terrines......the last morsel of Christmas Pudding was consumed along with yesterday's morning coffee....and in a few days time, the beaux restes from the pantry will all have been put to good use. Almost on a whim - because I don't feel it's all that necessary - we've also decided to go on the wagon and forswear alcohol for a period (currently indeterminate......there have been vague and sweepingly optimistic references to 'a month'.......although at around seven thirty in the evening, I tend to think 'several days, perhaps' might be more likely). The Technical Department has adopted a competitive positioning on the subject: "If you can do it, then I can do it", was the declaration, eyes narrowed in clear challenge......

The last of the Duck Terrine from New Year's Eve will do service as this evening's starter; yesterday, we began dinner with a Potato galette which incorporated the final pieces of Duck from the Gressingham, combined with Mushrooms, Garlic and Onions which had been saut├ęd in Butter (a dish first encountered long ago at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris), while the carcase has produced a splendid stock for use in a Broccoli and Basil soup for lunch today. Slices of cold Lamb Mentonais from the beginning of the week, served cold with a salad, were
mouth-wateringly good for lunch yesterday........and the production for this evening of a Ricotta and Orange Cheesecake should about clear the decks, so provisioning can then start all over again! (Charles and Gennaro passed through between Christmas and the New Year, en route from Naples to Venice, and brought their usual care-package of cheese from Vannulo - hence the availability of a large quantity of incomparably creamy Ricotta....)

One more day to go of presents from under the tree - which would sound bizarre in England, but here in Italy, the holiday season is in full swing until the end of tomorrow - and then we can (finally) clear away all the trappings of Christmas, and get on with 2008. At the risk of sounding bah-humbug, I'm generally itching by this time to get the whole lot decently tidied up - and this year is no exception......

Then, of course, the only thing left to do before departing for London on Tuesday will be to make the Christmas Pudding for next year. The nuts, dried fruit and Suet are all in readiness, while the quality of the peel available here is vastly superior to anything I've ever seen elsewhere - it's sold unwrapped and unchopped, lying in great colourful heaps in the grocers' vitrina, and the flavour is much stronger and more assertive than the commercially diced and packaged product generally available.
My mother assures me that her grandmother used not only to make the pudding a year in advance, but would then bury it in the ground, wrapped in muslin, for the intervening period; I'm not sure I'd go quite that far!

In any event, Da Capo.....

Tonight's Dinner:

Duck Terrine

Baked Sea Bass, with Anchovy Butter

Cheesecake of Ricotta and Orange (made using slivered Almonds and candied Orange)

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