Posts Tagged ‘wine’

…and Matt found them first, serving them with a sauce échalotte, garlic mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies (for Naomi, my vegetarian friend).

Lamb steaks with shallot sauce (echalottes & vin rouge)

Everyone goes on and on about Scottish Lamb, Welsh Lamb, New Zealand Lamb.  But I’ve never had lamb as good as we get here in Switzerland, and (comparatively speaking), it’s not too expensive.  I love a good piece of roast lamb, but the lamb steaks here are more flavourful and tender than what I’ve found anywhere else in the world.  They really are superb.

So I bought a beautiful lamb nierstuck (which, if I understand correctly, is a fatless steak off the back of the shoulder) that was so tender it cut with a fork.  I guess they must butcher the lamb differently here, because it’s a cut I don’t know from the US, the UK, or France.  But it’s tender, full of flavour, and delicious.  Sautéed the lamb, served with garlic-infused mashed potatoes and fresh winter vegetables and a sauce échalotte with red wine. Aude has given the meal her endorsement and approval.

Heaven on a plate.  And just the thing to piss off my vegetarian friends on the heels of eating Bambi. 

(Don’t worry – this isn’t going to become a foodie blog any more than I’m a foodie – I just like to remind my vegetarian friends from time to time that there’s a whole world of deliciousness that they’re missing!)

Braised venison with red wine and balsamic vinegar

Venison was on sale at the supermarket in Germany, so I decided to pick some up for dinner.  Braised the venison in red wine and balsamic vinegar, added veal stock, onions, carrots and tomatoes.  Went totally Germanic with red cabbage and spaetzle sautéed in butter.  Threw in a couple of green beans to get all of my ‘five-a-day’ on a single plate to keep Aude’s mother happy.

Posted my dinner menu on my facebook page only to receive a comment from a vegetarian friend: “you are horrible.”  No doubt more horrible because I’m eating something cute, despite the fact that Bambi probably lived a far more fulfilled life than most industrially-raised animals.

No, as committed carnivores, we’ll happy eat most creatures regardless of how cute they are.  Daffy, Donald, Bambi (and little Thumper, too), Bugs Bunny, Babe, Shaun, Ermintrude, Foghorn Leghorn, Kermit and Tweety all have a place on our menu.  Just wait until I finally find Nemo.

 Finding Nemo as Sushi

As Sandro reminded me this weekend, “you don’t win friends with salad.

Cote de boeuf

A shopping trip to France last week yielded a stunning cote-de-boeuf.  For any Americans not familiar with the cote-de-boeuf, think of a double-thick rib-eye steak (2.5”-3” thick), cooked medium.  Medium dead.

Anthony Bourdain: “Pound for pound, this is probably the best cut of beef on the animal — and one of the most expensive. For your serious meat-eating guests this is the way to go. When you approach the tableside with two of these intimidating monsters, and carve them in front of your guests, they will tremble in shock and awe, basking in your magnificence and casual impertinence.”

“I suggest serving this dish with French fries and a staggeringly expensive bottle of burgundy in cheap glasses. Just to show them who’s their daddy.”

I live in Switzerland, so frites = rosti. And I prefer Bordeaux to Burgundy. But the spirit of the recipe remains the same. And Aude remains in shock and awe, basking in my magnificence and casual impertinence. As do Daisy & Calypso (but with less shock and awe — more of a casual, egalitarian acknowledgement of greatness.  Or as much enthusiasm as cats can muster).

Our first Christmas in Basel was a success.  We spent the day at home with Aude’s parents (not that there was much choice – pretty much everything shuts on Christmas Eve and stays shut for the next three days).  I’d stocked up on firewood, and we had a fire in the fireplace most of the day.

Aude and her parents went out for an early-afternoon walk in the countryside, leaving me at home to get started with the Christmas dinner.  I opted for a traditional German / Swiss Christmas dinner of roast goose, stuffing, spaetzle, and red cabbage.  In the end, I had to make a small concession to our Swiss kitchen: my oven is too small to take an entire goose, so I roasted two goose crowns and two goose legs.  In the end, it was a better compromise as there was plenty of meat to go around.  The last time I cooked a whole goose, I ended up with about three slivers of goose meat per person and an enormous pile of bones.  I was certain that wasn’t going to happen again this year.

Daisy by stool
We’ve made an example out of Calypso. Here we are showing Daisy the consequences of misbehaving.

Aude hiding
Once again, it becomes clear that Aude was never top-of-her-class at hide-and-seek.

Christmas table
The Christmas table

Christmas table
The Christmas table

Christmas dinner
Roast goose, spaetzle, stuffing and red cabbage

Daisy by Christmas tree
Daisy gets into the Christmas spirit.

Aude has been in Paris on a training course for the past four days, so I decided to use this weekend to get some of the errands run. Our stocks of wine are running low, so I decided it was time for a quick run over to Calais to replenish our supplies. Thinking that I had plenty of time, I decided to take the ferry rather than the train to save a few quid – a mistake in the end.

White Cliffs

The famous white cliffs of Dover…

I went over with Seafrance, who have much nicer ferries than either of the other companies. But I picked a rough day with a very choppy crossing, and a fair number of the passengers spent most of their time throwing up. I’m fairly immune to sea-sickness, but there’s something inherently unpleasant about being surrounded by people being sick.

Wine Society

The Wine Society’s shop in Montreuil, or ‘Mecca’ as we prefer to call it…

First stop in France was at the Wine Society. I’d preselected my wines on the ferry, and handed over my completed order form. Ten minutes later and a few hundred euros lighter, the friendly lads at the Wine Society had loaded my car and I was on my way back to Calais to do some food shopping. And aggravating quite a few French drivers at each of the tolls, as I had to get out and run around the car to fetch my tickets (as my steering wheel is on the wrong side and I’ve got no passenger to reach out for me.

Low car

The car is riding a little lower on its suspension, its boot full of wine!

From Montreuil, it was back to Calais to stock up on all the foods that we can’t get in the UK – veal, good coffee, chicory, cured meats, cheeses, and so on. Several hundred more euros later, and the boot was full to bursting.

Cite Europe

Off to Carrefour for a little grocery shopping…

Finally back on the ferry, the rear end of the car scraped over every speed bump I crossed. Next time I’ll rent a van!

Fully laden

The car fully laden, I managed to scrape the rear end going over the speed bumps getting onto the ferry…

The return ferry was much more uneventful than the outbound crossing. I had a nice dinner on the onboard restaurant, surrounded for some reason by loads of Australians. One of whom did her country’s reputation no favours by ordering a steak, well done, and then asking the French waiter if she could have some ketchup to go with it.

And I thought it was only the Americans who were renowned for these sorts of social gaffes.

We’re safely back from Belgium, where we celebrated a French-style new year with Marjory and her friends at their place outside Brussels. Aude had a great time, and I spent most of the trip telling everyone that “J’ai un rhume” and that I was avoiding “faire les bises” so as not to spread my germs. It was international diplomacy at its finest.

Marjory and her friends made a superb dinner that left us all stuffed afterwards. We started foie gras and champagne, then moved on to a starter of tabbouleh with fresh grapefruit and prawns, followed by a salade Perigourdine, then filet mignon in a Roquefort sauce, with cheese and dessert afterwards. It was dinner as only the French can do – plenty of good food to satisfy the senses, plenty of over-indulgence to make sure you don’t do it too often.

As midnight approached, we opened more champagne and the party really started. There was dancing… and music… and bed! At least, there was for me – I realise that the French like to party late into the night, but by about 1:30 my bed was calling me. Two cold tablets and I was out for the count!

The following morning we were treated to a guided tour of Brussels – and I use the word “guided” loosely. Marjory was nominally our guide, but we could have been visiting Moscow for all she knows about the city. My GPS let me down and we got an even more detailed tour of town on the way back to the Chunnel, but we made it in the end, despite technology’s best efforts to send me in the wrong direction.

Foie Gras

Forget your store-bought foie gras. This came from Laure’s grandmother. Well, not actually from her grandmother — more like from her grandmother’s ducks.

Chefs at work in the kitchen

The chefs, hard at work in the kitchen…


Cinderella is sent to do the tidying-up by her evil stepsisters….

A princess

…but she emerges minutes later, transformed into a princess.

The girls

The girls pose for a photo…

The girls

Another photo of the girls (this time Aude’s managed to jump into the frame as well)

The girls

These days, everyone wants to offer instant feedback on the photographer’s efforts!

Salade Perigourdine

Salade Perigourdine, made with Laure’s grandmother’s ducks…

New Years Eve dinner table

The New Years Eve table, set for dinner

Champagne and fireplace

Champagne and a roaring fire — what else do you need for a good night in?

The gang

The whole gang poses for a photo…

Someone's missed the photo

Someone misses that they’ve moved at the last minute and not been included in the group photo. (Actually, he features prominently as the blur in the background!)


Marjory gets into the party spirit…


Laure can’t resist joining into the festitivies herself!


Next thing you know, everyone’s dancing…

Not everyone

Not everyone… Some of us know well enough that the safest place to be when dancing breaks out is a little way away, with a glass of champagne in our hands!


It’s midnight, and Marjory pops open the fizz…


Audrey strutts her stuff on the dancefloor!


Marjo pulls a move…


Aude joins in, thinking it’s Disco Fever…


Julie gives a pointer or two to the dancers…


Frank looks on in amazement


Once the beat has you, you just can’t stop…