foie gras, curing in its salt; duck, boned and stuffed with lemon-butter and sage; bowls of mincemeat, fish stock, and sausagemeat prepped for rolls; venison pavés; sides of smoked salmon; fillets of sole...); the senior four-footed, as a Christmas treat to all, has just had a bath, and is looking disconsolately fluffy and smells wonderfully of shampoo; the house is filled with the heady aroma of sauce veneur simmering on the stove, along with the dulcet tones of Brenda Lee trilling 'Frosty the Snowman' (although I can see the post-modern ironic humour of that wearing thin rather quickly). Bread dough is rising in the kitchen, and enough puff and shortcrust pastry has been made to supply an army with sausage rolls and mince pies, in between actually eating.
tomato and pepper tarts; artichoke frittata; smoked salmon; salad; and an array of glorious french cheese, promised by the Belfortes), after which we're sending them all off on a scavenger hunt for the afternoon. They don't yet know this, which could mean we risk a minor rebellion - but in the absence of the Queen's Speech, we have to find something for them to do in the afternoon (and, more importantly, get them out of our hair, while we get on with preparing dinner, which is after all the main event of the day). And then.....dinner: devils on horseback (by popular request) before we sit to Sole Normande, followed by Venison (with sauce veneur), and finish with Grand Marnier soufflés. The Brancolis are supplying due and tre bicchieri bottles (Avvoltorre) to go with the venison, so we can indulge in a vertical tasting as we go. Not the last vertical tasting of the holiday, though, as, during dinner on Boxing Day, we're planning to compare salt-cured foie gras with the poached variety.
By the 27th, they'll all have gone, the cupboards will be looking sadly empty, and we can allow ourselves to subside into midwinter lethargy. And the senior four-footed will be well on the way to recovering that eau de 'spaniel left out in the rain' aroma that he particularly favours.
Duck, boned and roast, with lemon-butter and Sage pushed under the skin; wild mushrooms; diced potatoes fried in goose fat
Aosta apple and orange tart.