Just like my brand new iPod Mini, I am pink with joy! Thanks to my beloved darling, I am now the proud owner of the petit-four of mp3 players!
Many many thanks for all your birthday wishes, they made me smile and laugh, and they accompanied me throughout the day, making me feel special in an ever-so-pleasing way. So thank you, and here’s a flutter of kisses and hugs for all of you : <flutter of hugs and kisses darting off in all directions in a fizz of glitter and sparks>.
My birthday lunch was great : the weather was beautiful, and Maxence’s mother invited us to the Café Fusion, a restaurant on the rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles which I particularly like — friendly service, excellent food and a large shaded terrace. I had a Tian de Courgettes et Tomates à la Brousse, a sort of individual terrine of zucchini (well, I just had to!) and tomatoes, layered with creamy goat cheese. This was a wonderful starter, flavorful and fresh. Then, I went for the Tartare de Boeuf Poêlé, which is beef tartare (raw meat chopped finely and well-seasoned) that is sauteed for just a few seconds, so that the outside of the tartare is slightly cooked, while the inside stays raw, moist and delicious. This was served with a simple salad and crisp blond fries. Maxence then insisted — rather uncharacteristically — I have some dessert, and we shared a Tarte Tatin, which arrived bearing a little candle and carried by a smiling, singing waitress.
Brigitte, Maxence’s mother, gave me a lovely cookbook with recipes from Poitou-Charentes, a region in the West of France she is very much attached to, and where her family comes from. The author shares the recipes he got from his two grandmothers, and the book, conveniently spiral-bound, has the old-fashioned charm of family cookbooks.
After work (clients don’t seem to realize that some things just take on a lesser importance on your birthday, isn’t that odd?), I rode the bus home to be welcomed by Maxence, who assigned me to the bedroom, while he was cooking me dinner — regularly checking on me, making sure I was comfortable and happy. I took this opportunity to leaf leisurely through cookbooks, dreaming up the menu for my birthday party this Saturday.
When dinner was ready, Maxence called me into the candle-lit living-room, and served me a glass of Crémant d’Alsace, a sparkling white wine which my father had given us. We started the meal with a platter of excellent Italian antipasti (marinated artichokes, stuffed onions and peppers, sun-dried tomatoes), which we ate with slices of Baguette des Prés, the delicious multigrain baguette from our corner boulangerie. The main course was then served : Escalopes de foie gras poêlées — thin slices of fresh foie gras, floured and briefly sauteed, sprinkled with balsamic vinagar — with a side of sauteed mushrooms and onions, and little Noirmoutier potatoes, steamed. This was really fabulous : the slices of foie gras thinly crusted with the flour coating, but moist and melty inside, the mushrooms perfectly seasoned, and the potatoes plump and sweet.
I was then sent back to the bedroom, while he prepared my present. When I was called back in, yet more candles had been lit, and a large present stood on the bar, in silver paper wrapping : when I got closer I started to laugh with delight, as it had the instantly recognizable shape of a cocotte, and a Le creuset cast iron cocotte was very high on my list of possible I-would-just-love-that gifts. I unwrapped the paper carefully, savoring the process, then stopped, puzzled : this was not a new cocotte, this was the one we already had — and loved — which came from Maxence’s grandparents’ country house. Hm. The real present had to be inside! I cut the string that held it closed, opened the lid, and inside was another wrapped present, cube-shaped, on which Maxence had written “Je t’ai bien eue!” (“Gotcha!”). I unwrapped that one, still laughing, thoroughly enjoying the surprise, and shrieked with joy when I discovered this little jewel, pink and pretty and soft to the touch.
Maxence had bought the dessert from Picard, and he had chosen for us the Eclats Chocolat Pistache, which are little cups of chocolate mousse, filled with a pistachio cream, on a disk of chocolate meringue. These were finger-licking good and a great mix of flavors : Picard really makes desserts worthy of the best pâtisseries.
So on a scale of 1 to 10, this birthday rated a good gazillion! But, um… do I really have to wait for a whole year before the next one? Can’t we try to figure out something?