Nuit Provence

1) the French Provence table, complete with G’s fleur de lis napkins

It started with a cookbook I saw at Blee’s place last weekend called Provence Cooking School, which I duly confiscated. Then, upon hearing Cousin Ora was going to be in town for the Victoria Day holiday, it morphed into a Nuit Provence … a casual, home-style dinner of French Provence food. On the menu Saturday night was:

  • Bagna Cauda;
  • Agneau confit au miel a au vin rose (which was cooked in an infusion de romarin I made); and,
  • Salad aux fruits cuits

The dinner was outstanding despite the one boo-boo I made (over) cooking the apricots, which I blame on Edith Piaf.  We had far too much to drink over the course of the dinner which – rather predicably – led to loud music and foolish dancing by midnight … but heck, nothing wrong with that! So on to the guests, the meal, the wines and the dancing…

The Guests

2 & 3) the guests: a camera shy Blee and Cousin Ora

Bagna Cauda
A perfect starter and so simple to boot. Simply prepare whatever veggies you want into finger-sized pieces. In our case we steamed a yellow beet and cleaned and cut some radish, endive, green cauliflower, and yellow, purple and orange carrots. Have plenty of crusty French baguette on hand to catch the dipping sauce as you pull the veggies out. The sauce is simply an entire head of garlic (yes, an entire head) which we roasted and mash that together with about 30 anchovies that you’ve rinsed (if they come in oil). Once mashed well together blend this into – wait for it – a half a cup (yes, a half a cup of melted butter) – and finish by adding in about a 1/2 cup of cream (yes, cream). Remember, you’re cooking French so all notion of healthfulness must be checked at the door.

Once warm, transfer to a serving dish that you can keep warm and serve alongside the veggies. You’ll love this one, trust me!

4) the veggies; 5) garlic and anchovies

6) mashed garlic and anchovies head to the 7) melted 1/2 cup of butter

8) whisk in cream (or milk I suppose) and bring to a simmer

9) bagna cauda perfection!

Infusion de Romarin
The lamb dish is actually simmered in a rosemary infusion which I made last Wednesday. This infusion is truly the secret to this dish as it lends a sweetness which is – well – divine. It’s very simple also. Start by drying some orange peel (the excess works perfectly to garnish champagne [see below]). To prepare the infusion, add dried orange peel, a couple of bay leaves, a bunch of rosemary, 6 juniper berries with about 3.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling pour in an entire bottle of French rose wine, bring back to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or so. Cool and strain and the infusion is ready for the lamb.

10) orange peel dries at home; 11) the ingredients

12) add berries, rosemary, peel and bay leaves to; 13) 3.5 cups of water

14) add in a bottle of rose; 15) infusion de romarin is ready for straining

Agneau confit au miel a au vin rose
The lamb takes some chopping preparation but once done, it all ends up in an enamelled pot and merrily cooks away on the stove top while you can sit back and drink wine. Now, that’s a perfect main course. What makes this dish yummy is coating the lamb in a rosemary honey first before searing it. G made a fabulous rosemary honey.

Traditionally, this is served with maccaroni mixed with butter (mais naturellement!) and parsley though I opted to use a smaller italian ditali pasta.

16) 1.3kg lamb shoulder, carrots, shallots, pearl onions, celery and garlic

17) rosemary honey: honey, finely chopped rosemary, pepper, salt and a touch of oil; 18) the lamb is tossed in the rosemary honey

19) sear the meat for about 8 minutes turning frequently; 20) pull the meat out and saute your veggies

21) return meat to pot and cover with the infusion du romarin (partly cover and simmer on low for about 2 hours, adding more infusion as needed); 22) the ditali

23) the final product: heavenly!

The Wines
So yes, we drank too much last night. Like I care, it was fun and delicious. After cocktails we served up a bottle of Lanson Champagne, two bottles of rose, and Cousin Ora brought an over-the-top bottle of South African Shiraz that went perfectly with the cheese course. I must admit the rose from Chateau Val Joanis was far superior to the kool-ade French Folies bottle but the folks in the Luberon know how to make good rose.

24) Lanson Champagne; 25) Chateau Val Joanis 2006 Cotes De Luberon Rose and French Folies Grenache-Syrah 2007; 26) La Motte 2005 Shiraz

The Cheeses
We served a selection of cheeses with the La Motte, including a unique chèvre noir (a hard goat’s milk cheese that got raves from everyone at the table).

27) the cheeses (clockwise from top): soft chevre; Jonathan Baluchon (an organic semi-soft cheese from Quebec); triple cream brie (from Quebec); chevre noir; Blue Benedictin; and (off picture) a 12-year old Quebec cheddar

Salad aux Fruits Cuits
Another simple preparation. Peel and core 3 pears, 6 apricots and a couple peaches (or in my case, apples). Bring 4 cups of water with a cup of sugar and 8 slices of lemon to a boil and drop in each fruit to soften. Add the pears, cook about 3 minutes, remove then add in the apples. Once done, reduce the water/sugar/lemon water down by about 1/2 until it is a sweet syrup.

DSCF0376 DSCF0396
28) the apricots get their time in the water/sugar/lemon water; 29) the final dessert … the fruits served in a martini glass with the syrup and a sprig of mint

The Dancing
After dinner we then got silly and started to dance when G put on “Song 2” by Blur very loudly and it all sort of went downhill from there…. hehehe

30) the formal posing shot, except only I was posing; 31) camera shy Blee is having none of the picture taking business

32) Blee, G and Cousin Ora dance; 33) G, Brent and Cousin Ora dance

34) very late, er, early in the morning now and Blee is out for the count while Cousin Ora still shakes her groove to Julie Cruise’s “Floating” … perfect music for 1AM

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8 Responses to Nuit Provence

  1. CurryPuffy says:

    Nice to see you guys shagging it away!! Good food, great wine and happy times…that’s what life is all about!ryc: thanks for the well wishes! I’m getting better everyday!

  2. vsan79 says:

    ryc : who is alton brown ?Well it taste good for me.And I usually sleep early.

  3. enginerds says:

    thanks for your kind words bud. It’s easy money where I work so it would be hard to leave to pursue full time photography although I thought about it and it would be sooo much fun. So I guess I have to be a weekend warrior for now. :( BTW, I need to try one of your recipes. THese dishes look so tasty! :D

  4. kunhuo42 says:

    the food, as always, looks delectable!

  5. vsan79 says:

    Food and food and food :)I tried one of your recipe today. (not the same sauce)

  6. whonose says:

    I can do cheese on toast!

  7. Fatcat723 says:

    Very nice as Matt says. I love lamb so I am going to try the dish over the weekend. How do you stay so thin with all that beautiful food!!!!!

  8. ElusiveWords says:

    Mmmm…. very nice. I’ll have to try that lamb dish.

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