Friday, April 17, 2015

Foodie Fête

How long has it been since getting together with the foodies for a feast? Too long! We were definitely overdue.

Caroline and Jim hosted Dick, Maureen, Rob and me. The theme was French food and wine, proving you don't necessarily need to travel to France to enjoy cuisine magnafique.

Full menu: apéro/amuse bouches, entrée, plat principal, fromages, déssert. One plate following another, offering up flavour, colour, texture & temperatures to please. 
Each couple was to bring an amuse bouche, and I admit the assignment intimidated me. The literal French translation is, (it) entertains (the) mouth. More than an appetizer, it is to be an offer of the chef's creativity.

Caroline's amuse bouche was savoury gougère. She dolloped the cheesy choux pastry into a muffin pan and they puffed up like yellow clouds. Served fresh from the oven, warm and fragrant.

The contrasts between the warm gougère and the chilled bubbly Crémant de Bourgogne brought out the best in each other. The crémant lived up to its name, creamier than a prosecco, absolutely fizzing with tiny bubbles, and tasty indeed.

Maureen's amuse bouche were gorgeously presented in shot glasses, layered with verrine avocat, fromage blanc, saumon fumré. Colourful, flavourful, and portioned to leave you wanting more. A plate of salmon, dill and crackers were also served alongside white burgundy. Delightful mouthfuls.

After much browsing on the internet, I was overwhelmed by possible combinations for amuse bouche and ended up at McEwan Grocery, like a kid in a candy store, looking for epicurean delights that would offer a flavour punch. Hard to decide, but in the end I plated polenta with wild boar, edible flowers, sunflower greens, and a spoonful of apple sauce with riesling. 

For the entrée, I brought a nested zucchini and sweet potato tart, with a dollop of creme fraiche, a small salad of heirloom carrots and bright green peas.  Paired with Vin D'Alsace Stephane Berg Riesling, which was a Gold Medal Winner at  Concours General Agricole Paris 2014.

Ah, the main! Caroline prepared gigôt d'agneau de Monsieur Henry: leg of lamb grilled over wine infused scalloped potatoes with onion, garlic, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes + tower of celery root, Swiss chard and roasted red pepper. Matched with  Delas Saint-Espirit Côtes du Rhône.

Then came the fromage: Saint Agur, Époisses, Délice de Bourgogne, Reblochon and Comté. Offered with St-Rémy brandy, Hennessy cognac, and Grand Marnier.

How could anyone not be sated after such an incredible meal?

To aid digestion Caroline and I stayed up for a dip in the steaming hot tub under a clear starry sky. Luckily it was just a walk down the hall to a comfy bed. My head hit the pillow around 2 a.m. and I slept soundly until Rob woke me at 7 a.m., to watch wild turkeys parading around the pond, a huge tom leading a group of seven hens.

Maureen's apple tart had been planned for déssert the night before, but everyone reached a point where we couldn't eat another bite. So it was served for breakfast, with ice cream as intended. This might have been the first time I had ice cream for breakfast but it won't be the last! There was also brioche, coffee and fresh eggs. One egg so fresh it had been laid only minutes before.

Caroline's hens and rooster were the morning's entertainment, clucking and crowing around the yard... was this the same place we were snowshoeing only the month before?  Sun shining. Dick said the grass was greening before our eyes - and it really was.

No winter coats necessary. I saw my first butterfly of the the year!

What's not to celebrate?

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Yes. It's happening! Things are coming to life in the garden and robins are here.

The snowdrops look so clean and new against the dead leaves that litter the ground from last fall. A welcome contrast.

Spring feels late this year, but when I check my blog for what was blooming this time last April, we're only a day or two behind, bloom-wise.

The witch hazel is blooming almost right on schedule with last year

picked up this Amaryllis at "Jump Into Spring"in February and it was still blooming on Easter. Gorgeous!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Water colour classes

I've been going to water colour classes. For the pure fun of it. The last time I held a paint brush was in grade school and I've never taken an art class as an adult. But a few months ago I  noticed that when I go on these corporate sessions and the facilitators have us do 'creative' exercises I have a lot of fun expressing myself visually.

So why not pursue a few night classes? The next one I'll attend is the last of four; I will likely sign up for more.

Ruth teaches in her Beaches home/studio. The groups are small. Just 4 or 5 of us, and I am definitely the one with the least developed skill.

Dipping my brush into the water, tapping it in the paint, swirling & mixing and seeing what happens. And..... what the hell is THAT? Yikes, where did that voice come from? Oh yes, that's me. 

Most of these adults were the ones who were good in art classes as kids and went on to pursue opportunities to develop their talent. I probably make the others feel great about what they are setting on paper. Maybe they wonder what I'm doing there - I certainly do at times. Okay, I admit to hoping I might be a late bloomer.  

I bring the papers home and take a closer look. The colour in this one is interesting. The brush strokes in that one. And look, the salt has had a very interesting effect in the blue! They are not all entirely bad, after all.

So when I go to the classes I'll try not to lose the idea of why I went in the first place. For fun.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Full Egg Moon - April

Happy Easter!

How appropriate to call this month's moon the 'Egg Moon,' even though it is also known as the Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass, or Fish Moon. Eggs, the perfect symbol for Easter and new life beginning.

In my search to find an image for this month's full moon I came across fantastic egg shell carvings. So intricate, so fragile.

I am amazed by human beings who can make such beautiful works of art from such a 'common' object. And once again I am blown away by the Internet, sharing such wonders at our fingertips.

What a world.

  Wen Fuliang began carving eggs after losing his job as a wood carver.
French artist Christel Assante

This little Mermaid carving won a blue ribbon in 2007 at the international egg art show in Dallas Texas. From Sea Witch

The April moon is full April 4, 8:07 a..m. Toronto time.