Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Lazy days. That wonderful doldrums period between Christmas and New Year when the days blend seamlessly together, and there comes a point when you can't quite remember which day it is any more. Punctuated by good food and wine, and walking the dogs, and reading beside the fire, and planning menus for the days to come...
For the most part, the weather is glorious. Sunshine fills the garden and streams into the house, with a Vermeer-like intensity. The blossoms on the Urophylla are opening en masse, in great cascades, and the cymbidium are on the verge of bursting into flower. The lemon crop is pretty good at this time of year, and we also have four glorious bergamot fruit ripening in the winter sun - although I'm still none the wiser about what exactly I can use them for. There are still a few blooms left on the Marie Pavie, but sadly last week's gale got rid of all the flowers on the Chinese Camellia; I imagine they're decorating a hedgerow somewhere in the vicinity of Livorno, by now.
The Loubet programme proceeds apace, with some pretty good discoveries along the way: already blogged are the recipes for rabbit en croute, and quails with walnut mash, but also to be recommended are his recipes for endives with orange, and fennel with allspice. Steak, topped with a confit of shallot and mustard was pretty good, too - as was pork, pot-roast with vanilla and coconut milk. He claims not to be particularly interested in desserts - although his recipe for iced white chocolate and gingerbread parfait is undeniably one of the best things I've ever eaten. Menu items for later this week include his rather wonderful Dark Treacle Tart, and an adaptation of his recipe for Peaches in Pistachio cream (but using fresh apricots, for which I've just located a supply in Via San Francesco).
Ok. Back to...um...doldrums. I want to finish the biography I'm currently reading of Isabella de Medici, and then need to think about pruning the pomegranate tree. And of course, at six o'clock we have present-giving and prosecco - which takes place every evening between Christmas and Twelfth night, in order to avoid a five minute orgy of unwrapping on the morning of December 25th, following which the Tree sits around looking rather forlorn and seeming increasingly pointless.
Consommé of Quail, with Dumplings.
Escalope de Foie de Veau Mauricette
Poached Apricots, with Pistachio Cream.