France

Why France?

Lani has chosen France. And I can’t wait!

It would be extremely remiss of us not to go to France during this adventure – France has given the world so much lovely food, we are surely obliged to pay serious homage to it.

Flicking through Lauren’s French cookbook, I have tagged so many recipes.

My experience of France

I had four days in Paris during my two-year stay in the UK, and loved every moment of it. I don’t think I have walked so much in four days ever (although a weekend in New York with Karma might come close).

It was the first time I had “real” French onion soup. I visited quite a few cemeteries and saw the graves of Alexandre Dumas, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Marceau and Edith Piaf. I went to the Louvre (hello Mona Lisa, hello Venus de Milo), the Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge. I saw Rodin’s The Thinker. It was awesome, and I think I will have to go back to Paris one day.

Earlier in my UK stint, I also got the ferry from Dover to Calais, which is a lovely town, and home of the very impressive statue of the Six Burghers of Calais.

Preparation

We had planned to go to France for lunch on Saturday 14 July – it being Bastille Day. But Saturdays are too difficult for me, and don’t suit Jan, who can’t escape from work until after 4:00 pm. So we’ll go to France on Sunday 15 July.

Our guests will be a family from school – Abby and Sam and their lovely kids, Sunday and Jude. Sunday is the same age and Liam and Jude is the same age as Lani, so we should have a great day!

The menu

I have had to do a serious cull form my initial list. There are still 13 menu items, but I just can’t cull it any more.

Here is where we’re at as of 7 July:

  • Champagne cocktail
  • Baked brie with caramelised onions and pistachio topping
  • Cheese puff ring
  • French onion soup
  • Vichycoisse
  • Quiche savoyarde
  • Garlicky scallops and prawns
  • Chicken chasseur
  • Garlic escargots
  • Croque monsieur
  • Macarons
  • Crème brulee
  • Croquembouche

Elysia makes the perfect macarons, so she will bring a batch of those, and Liam and Lani want to make a croquembouche. Lunch in France falls at the end of the school holidays, so we will make the croquembouche on the Friday. That’s going to be a big day for all of us, I suspect.

I originally had a dacquoise on my list of recipes, but that might be overkill. But I still want to make one! I might make one and take it into my ever-willing guinea pigs at work. Yes, that’ll work!

Here’s the fact sheet – Factsheet_France

And here’s the place-mat – Place-mat_France

The food

I think the dish of the day might have been desserts.

Elysia’s macarons were, just as I expected, absolutely perfect. Not being a big lover of milk or eggs, I had never eaten crème brulee before. Holy moly, that will all change now – it was delicious!

And the croquembouche. The poor croquembouche! Liam, Sunday, Lani and I made it on Friday, but the toffee that was holding it together dissolved overnight. It was Elysia to the rescue, again! She rebuilt it on Sunday to ten times better than its former glory. Elysia, I can’t let you go to Norway!! How can we have these stunning desserts if you are on the other side of the world. Golly, golly, golly, I’m going to miss you!!!

The French onion soup was very nice – oh so much better than that dried stuff you buy in a packet.

And the baked brie is always a winner.

Escargots. Yes, we must talk about the escargots. Truly, what are the French thinking! So much delicious food, and they choose to eat garden pests. It beggars belief. In my pathetic effort to delay opening the can, I started reading the label and spotted “Product of Indonesia”. Indonesia!! WTF is going on here? Our fact sheet tells us that many escargots in France are “plucked from the fields and roadsides of Eastern Europe”. But Indonesia! Seriously??

It was all I could do to not dry-retch while I was opening the can. I think this was the most unpleasant cooking experience I have ever had. Anyway, I followed the recipe, and cooked them in a garlic, cream and mushroom sauce. Those guests who were brave enough to try Indonesian escargot (certainly not me!!!), reported that they had the same texture as the mushrooms, and the sauce was very nice. Yeah, good. I’d much rather eat mushrooms in a very nice garlic and cream sauce, thank you very much!

Liam amazed me by trying one! You are a much braver person then me, Liam!! It stayed in his mouth for about half a second before he spat it out. But good on you, Liam, for trying something so far out of your comfort zone.

Here are the recipes for our faves –  France best recipes

Click here to see all our favourite recipes.

The drinks

Ah, the drinks! Jan and I were transported straight back to the 70s with the champagne cocktails. Jan reminded me that she had champagne cocktails at her wedding (the first one, that is😊). Mine wasn’t nearly that sophisticated (wedding, that is😊). They were so lovely – the champagne cocktails, that is, not the weddings – and we enjoyed quite a few (champagne cocktails, that is, not weddings😊).

Abby and Sam brought some real French champagne and that went down a treat as well.

And the beer of choice was Kronenbourg 1664.

Even though they might eat garden pests, they know about good alcohol, do the French!

The ambience

I don’t know how, but the Spotify playlist for French cafe jazz turned into Ed Sheeran. After a couple of champagne cocktails, it didn’t really matter, though.

The quiz

Lani and Lauren wrote the quiz, which Will won. Boring!

Here’s the factsheet – Factsheet_France

Here’s the place-mat –Place-mat_France

And here’s the quiz – Quiz_France

The highlight of lunch in France

Easy peasy – champagne cocktails, macarons, crème brulee. No contest.

Where to next?

August is Norway. Elysia goes to Norway on school exchange for six months in August, and we will have lunch in Norway before she goes. This exchange is such a great opportunity for Elysia, but the lunch will be tinged with a little sadness in that we won’t see her for such a long time.

I’m going to miss you so much, my darling girl. I hope it is a wonderful adventure for you!!

But we’ll see you on Sunday 12 August for lunch In Norway.