Conversations

Gourmet's Blissful Gathering

What fun to host a novel gathering with Gourmet Rhapsody.  This book had great food and good wine, what a wonderful beginning.  The Boutique will give you two choices, a very French "city" approach and a French "country" way.

First the city way.  Send out your invitations early, either by email or by hand.  If using an on line service, look for invites that look like fine linen paper or cloth.  If by hand, use simple ivory stationery and a font like Didot or Bodoni.  To me, they have a French style.

Let's set the stage - your home.  The setting is the Rue de Grenelle apartments.  The Rue is a famous street in Paris lined with shops such as Christian Louboutin (already salivating) five star restaurants and also our pompous and passionate food critic Pierre.  Elegance and charm come to mind for this decor.  Anything antique bring out. Set up a tea set with your granny's teacups.  French interiors never really match because they are way to serious for that.  Move furniture away from the walls and create small areas for chatting.  Arrange for 3 to 5 objects that are similar on tables, silver or crystal would work well.  If you have crystal glasses only, great, fill them with flowers at varying heights.  Voila...very chic, very French.  Scented candles, retro metal signs, romantic lines, vases of fresh flowers; be sure to include lavender, many cushions, elegant teacups and if you have it, some toille (either for pillows or tables).  Toille is a fabric with a white or off white background and a repeated scene in one colour.  Large coffee table books can adorn any table in your home.  Neat piles are very French.

Serve wine or your drink of choice, it is a good way to get the conversation rolling and lets face it...yummy!  We can justify wine anytime!

Have time to socialize either at the beginning or end of your party and be sure to have time for the book discussion.

Go for foods from the countries Arthens describes in the book.  Sushi from Japan; loukoumades from Greece; meatballs and mint tea from Tangiers.  Include tomatoes, like the ones he describes on page 40 from his Aunt Martha's garden.  Lastly, a ham sandwich.  There will be no shortage of food ideas for this novel.  Have fun with it and please don't forget the pastries.

If going French city style is, well, je ne sais quois....try taking this gathering outside, in your own backyard. Remember this - a simple meal, elegantly prepared. 

French country may include a simple table with a linen cloth or simple bedsheet layed on top on an angle. Several vases of similar heights filled with flowers from your garden.  Colourful napkins folded in each wine glass or folded nicely on each plate.  An assortment of French bread including baguette's displayed in picnic baskets or other baskets you have around your home.  Camembert and brie cheese, tomato salad, savoury ham and butter sandwiches and don't forget the wine!  Be sure to seat your guests accordingly.  Remember when Pierre was lost and he came upon a family ready to sit down for a meal?

     "The food was simple and delicious, but what I really devoured - to the point of relegating oysters, ham, asparagus and chicken to the rank of secondary accompaniments - I feasted on their works (...) the sort of words that, at time, delight one much more than the pleasures of the flesh."

Try items a la mode or a la carte.  Serve cafe au lait or cafe creme.  How about french fries with French's mustard.  Don't forget your french manicured nails....too much?  Then its time for us to say au revoir.

Here are a few coctails to try.

CHAMPS ELYSEES

Ice

1 1/2 oz cognac

1/2 oz green chartreuse

1/4 oz fresh lemon juice

1/8 oz simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Fill coctail shaker with ice.  Add all the remaining ingredients and shake well.  Strain into a chilled champagne glass.

OR 

A Royal Butt

1/2 oz Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey

1/2 Dekuyper Buttershots liquor

Shake with ice and strain intoa shot glass.

 

Loukoumades

Greek Donuts / Serves 6

1 1/2 oz fresh yeast

23 fl. oz tepid water

21 oz plain flour

2 oz corn flour

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp castor sugar

3 fl. oz Attiki honey *

2 oz walnuts toasted and crushed

Method

1.  Dissolve the yeast into tepid water in a large bowl that must be able to fit into the refrigerator.

2  Sift flour, corn flour, salt and sugar together into a large bowl.  Add water.

3  Whisk the batter until smooth, scraping the edges of the bowl as you go.

4.  Cover tightly with cling wrap let sit for 10 minutes, then place in fridge for 1 hour before using.  (This will give you crisp loukoumades)

5.  Heat oil to 170 C or 338 F or until a small amount of bread sizzles when dropped in and using either one hand or a spoon. place small amounts of mixture into the fryer.

6.  Cook until golden brown and serve hot with lashings of honey and toasted walnuts.

*Attiki honey is available at Mediterranean delis or stores.  The bees feed on thyme leaves during the honey making process, giving a very distinct flavor.

 

Recipe from Greek Cookery by George Calombaris

 

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