We have been looking forward to Christaine and Robert’s party ever since we received the invite. It was Christaines 60th birthday and we new we were in for a special time right at the beginning.
We met at her house at 11.30 am on saturday morning and were introduced to the rest of the guests which comprised family and close friends and numbered 30 plus in all. We drove to the restaurant and were greeted with the above table set out in front of a huge lake which the restaurant overlooks. Kier was served, white wine with blackberry juice and canapes and hors d’oeuvres. These comprised little glasses filled with artechoke caviar or foie gras mousse.
This for me encapsulates all the reasons I love living in france, the food was exceptionel, the setting perfect and the company generous and friendly.
After the photographs had been taken of the guests and everyone had finished their drinks we moved into the restaurant where we were pleased to discover that our table overlooked the lake.
The first course was sea trout and sea bass in a creamy lemony sauce with carrots and jerusalem artichokes. A white wine was served which was fresh and lemony and went perfectly.
The main course was locally reared and perfectly butchered fillet steak with mash, mushrooms and braised celery.
Actually I have gotten slightly ahead of myself because inbetween came the classic Normandy palate cleanser in the shape of a Truc Normande, an apple sorbet on to which is poured calvados, the local apple brandy except this was no ordinary calvados, this was the last bottle of Christaines fathers 1949 calvados, yep 60 year old same year Christaine was born. I cannot tell you how different this is to the fiery farm made calvados or the insipid commercially made stuff. It reminded me of a cognac I once tasted that had 100 year old plus, ie Napoleonic wines in it, so mellow and flavourful.
Served with the steak was a very acceptable 2003 bordeaux. The cheese course was unusual being a local camembert layered with apples and although I could not discern it, matured in calvados, perhaps my taste of vintage calva has spoiled me for the normal stuff.
Birthday cake was served for dessert and coffee.
After the meal, which lasted a good 5 hours, we had a walk around the lake and then went back to our hosts house for the next part of the party. Champagne was served in copious amounts and we sat on the patio until it started to get too cold. More champagne was served in the living room with quiches which were served by various grandchildren and then supper came round with a table heaving with cold meats, salade, patès et al and some more bordeaux, molsen this time I believe. A large basket of fruit also appeared, then coffee and more vintage calvados.
I have to say that my wife and I felt incredibly priveleged to have been invited to such a close family and friends major event and once again it made me aware of how generous and friendly the french are here in this little corner of Mayenne.
I am adding some more photos at the end here which I hope are self explanitory.