Sunday, April 4, 2010

Joyeuse Pâques!

So today I had an incredible meal at my brother in law's parents.  Seriously, incredible eating.  As with all French meals, there were multiple courses. First there was the aperitif.  We had champagne and batonette, feuilletée wrapped sausages and empanadas.  Pretty good way to start out if I don't say so myself.  Then we had the pâte au Pâques.  To explain, because this has to be explained, it is similar to a pâte feuilletée surrounding more farce, sausage I think, surrounding an egg.  It's cut up so that all pieces have a little of everything.  For the main plate there was a vegetable quiche, rabbit stuffed turkey breast, and mousseline de carrot. 

Mousseline is this really velvety puree that's strained extra fine and is without lumps.  I can't explain how wonderful this is, so you will just have to believe me.  It's good with carrots, but I could imagine it to be Jesus when done with potatoes.  Apparently, you can make a mousseline with a lot of different things.  I was looking up some more stuff about it, and someone was talking about a mousseline de Coquille St. Jacques (scallops,)  So it's a mad world.  We'll just leave it at that.

So after that there was cheese.  There was a Corsican cheese, which was damn near incredible, manchego, which is always incredible, and goat cheese, which I could do without myself.   Ah well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.  But yeah, there's something about good quality cheese with bread that's just well, amazing.  So yeah, we move along. 

Now dessert was the kicker.  There were two finger desserts. there was one that was pieces of pâte à choux covered with chocolate, sliced toasted almonds, and orange zest.  It was very good, and very light.  It was really perfect after a meal like the one we had.  The other, was even lighter, if that's possible.  They were like what we Americans would call cream puffs (profiteroles for those more brave) but they weren't filled with that god awful pudding, neither ice cream nor whipped cream.  I desperately need to learn how to make the cream they were filled with, which is called Creme St. Honore. (Honoratus)

Now this is kind of an interesting story.  The reason why it's called Creme St. Honore is to honor the Saint, obviously, but more than that, St. Honore is the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs.  I found this incredibly amusing, but at the same time, it felt a little like St. Prada, our lady of accessories.

Creme St. Honore is a pastry cream, so something like Creme Anglaise, that is mixed with stiffly beaten egg whites.  It ends up something like an incredibly light, uncooked meringue.  It's incredible.  Seriously, look it up and make it.  Just eat it out of the bowl.  Totally good enough to do just that.

Of course, would it be Easter without an Easter Egg hunt?  So my youngest niece, being 6, searched around the jardin for the eggs.  She found them all, and spoiled her appetite.  She's little, it's what kids do.  She ate some, and of course had room for dessert, but she didn't eat much of the meal.  All told, we spent about 6 hours there.  We talked a lot, and had a great time.

I should have some new stuff as we will be going on a week long trip to Tours.  I will have pictures most likely, as well as some videos up on youtube.  So hopefully you'll find something to your liking.  I am very excited about it.  The first meal in Tours?  You guessed it: Quick!

Happy Easter to all, and I hope you celebrated to the best of your ability.  (For some, that means one Irish Car Bomb for each of the 12 apostles.  If you can walk after John, Peter and Paul are on the house!)