Cheers from Gourmet Girl Denise in the Loire River Valley, France! Well, the holidays are over and some of us are relieved and now on a diet. Others are still basking in the glow of having eaten their way through Christmas and into the New Year, with no intent to diet or stop looking for the next delightful meal. The latter would describe me. I’ve decided that my first year in France I will not hold back, and intend to try many new foods, bake bread in my new bread oven, and bask blissfully in the golden light of the French countryside with a glass of St. Emilion in one hand and a croissant in the other. I’ll diet next year.
I was blessed with a visit from my beloved daughter Lindsey over the holidays, and we thoroughly enjoyed every day together. We had a lovely Chrismas Eve dinner at the Moulin Bregeon nearby, where chef Bernard worked his magic.
Then on Christmas day, the Bregeon Boys came to my house for a roasted goose, Coquille St. Jacques, a traditional scallop dish, roasted carrots, scalloped potatoes, and Buche de Noel for dessert. A Buche de Noel is a traditional chocolate genoise cake, baked flat and then filled with buttercream, rolled, and shaped like a Yule log. It is then frosted to look like tree bark in a mocha buttercream. Yum! Of course, there was champagne and wine, and such a good time was had by all that we forgot to take pictures of the feast. So here is my substitute tribute to an amazing dinner:
I know. Don’t tell him!
On January 6th (Epiphany) the French celebrate the 12th day of Christmas by visiting friends and partaking of a Gateau de Roi, or Kings Cake. This tradition started in the south of France and since has spread to many countries, where it takes on many different forms. In France, it typically is made of puff pastry filled with a frangipane paste (almond flavoured). Some are covered with glazed fruit, and some are plain. Here the one I purchased:
Baked inside is a small figurine. It used to traditionally be a figurine of one of the wise men, since January 6th is also known as the day of the Three Wise Men, but nowadays it can be just about anything. The one pictured above had a dragon in it. (Why? Who knows!) Whoever gets the figurine in their slice of cake gets to wear a gold paper crown that comes with the cake and be king for the day. I invited my friend Yvonne over to have a slice and she got the prize! And the cake was delicious!
I love old traditions, especially ones that involve ancient recipes and the gathering of friends and family. I am looking forward to my next culinary discovery and learning more about local foods and the delightful people who make them. I promise to keep you all posted!
Sending you all best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.
Denise, Gail and Lindsey