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  • Writer's picturepeter grose

Okay, you were warned ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

If you've read yesterday's blog, you can't say I don't practise what I preach: above is our family Christmas 2020 online. Top left you have my daughter Anouchka and her daughter Dot, both in London; top right is your humble scribe, behind the camera taking this picture, with wife Roslyn on the left, both of us on the Île d'Oléron in France; below is daughter Tamara with husband John, in Taunton, England. Most of the wine glasses are discreetly out of sight, and the orange juice is there for all to see. You get the picture!

Now at this point I have to issue a health warning and maybe suggest that readers below the age of 14 should avert their eyes. There's some hardcore porn coming . . . food porn though, not the other kind. For the first time ever we ordered a takeaway Christmas dinner from a restaurant called L'Ecume ('The Foam') right here on Oléron. It cost us 42 € each (without wine, of course), which at today's exchange rates comes to £37.89stg, US$51.31 or AU$67.56. Here's what we got for our money:

  1. Amuses Bouches Festifs Autour du Foie Gras. This translates roughly as Festive Canapes, or maybe Festive Hors D'Oeuvres, wrapped around Foie Gras. (I mention in passing that one of the oddities of the English language is that we take French words and use them as though we owned them. For the record, canapé is the French word for sofa or settee, while oeuvre is a job or task. So canapés are things you eat while sitting on a sofa, not while sitting at the table, and hors d'oeuvres are things 'outside the job' or in this case 'outside the meal'. Amuses Bouches are things that entertain your mouth.) The picture below shows the Amuses Bouches (on the left) as they arrived from L'Ecume.

2. Langoustines Croustillantes et Bisque de Homard au lait de Coco et Combava, plus Mousseline de Pomme de Terre Citronnée. This translates as Dublin Bay prawns (or scampi) in crunchy batter with a lobster sauce made with coconut milk, all served on a bed of lemon-flavoured mashed potato and some crunchy stuff chucked on top of everything (the combava). The instructions with the takeaway were emphatic that the lobster sauce should be poured around the langoustines and not tipped over them. We obediently did as we were told. Picture below.

3. Filet de Turbot et Vierge de Legumes Exotiques, Polenta légèrement épicée OR Tournedos de Canard Farcie au Foie Gras et son Jus Truffe, Crème de Céleris et Pommes Confites. These choices translate as EITHER fillet of turbot accompanied by unadorned exotic vegetables and some spicy fried polenta (Roslyn's choice) OR Duck stuffed with foie gras and surrounded by a truffle sauce plus mashed celeriac with some preserved bits of apple folded in (my choice). Pictures below, fish first.

4. Poire Fondante au Coeur de Framboise et Spéculos. This translates as pear that melts in the mouth with some raspberries stuffed inside and some crunched up biscuits. In fact it turned out to be not pear at all but a fake pink pear made with a lot of whipped cream wrapped around some raspberries, with a sugary crust dusted with pink icing sugar. There was a stick of chocolate to replace the pear stalk, and a neat ring of crunched spéculoos biscuits underneath everything. Picture below.

All of this came with elaborate and detailed instructions on how to reheat the various courses. Some of it involved a pre-heated oven at 180˚C. Otherwise it involved precise times in a microwave oven set to 650 watts. That all worked pretty well (though my duck could have taken a few more minutes in the conventional oven. My fault.)

Now you will all have realised that there's not a calorie in any of this, and the scales tell me I put on less than a kilo yesterday. So there.

Meanwhile, I have discovered a downside to all this. NO LEFTOVERS. This year there will be no curried turkey every night for weeks, no left-over Christmas pudding to struggle with nightly until mid-January, not even a heap of roast potatoes to shove into the fridge to be thrown out when it's time for spring cleaning.

Would I do it again? You bet!

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