What Christmas Is All About

How many people, I wonder, would agree that eating and drinking are the best parts of celebrating the birth of a charismatic and convincing fellow two millennia ago? I, for one, am not above celebrating a Christian holiday if only for the gluttony and sloth associated with it. (Ha! 2 of 7 deadly sins in one holiday!)

For months, I have been looking forward our Xmas Eve dinner. Before my family planned to spend the season in Calgary, we had been planning a decadent and romantic dinner for two in the glow of the tannenbaum lights. Even after learning that everyone would be in town, the idea of this dinner was too appealing to abandon, even for the fun of a family affair.

Sometime in October, I started thinking about ingredients, namely: duck, foie gras and caviar. In fact, when chatting with co-workers about what we wanted for Christmas, they all laughed because they thought I was joking when I said I wanted a great, big, piece of frozen goose-liver fat. I guess not everyone covets foie gras. In the end, it turned out that it would be too expensive and Marc doesn’t really like caviar but we agreed that duck would be divine.

So our menus was thus:

Marinated Shrimp with Champagne Beurre Blanc

Valdobbidene, Mionetto Prosecco

Duck Breast with Crème Fraîche and Roasted Grapes on Arugula

Scalloped Fennel and Potatoes

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Lemon and Bacon

Château de Chamirey, Mercurey, Burgundy

Molasses Ginger Pudding with Caramel Sauce

And it was everything I dreamed it would be.

Part of the fun of this dinner was that we would be able to spend the day in the kitchen together which is my very favourite place to be, with my very favourite person, along with some good music and a little G&T refreshment. I brought out the good silver, passed down from my grandparents, and we set the table to elegance.

The wine was particularly dreamy and complemented the duck as though we had chosen it to match, instead of having just pulled out one of our best bottles for dinner. It started with a cherry – almost candy – nose and then finished with tobacco; truly marvelous against the bitterness of the sprouts and arugula and yet it held out against the rich duck and creamy potatoes. Utterly and sublimely superb.

Finally, the molasses-ginger pudding is the recipe that we had been trying to perfect over the past year and which Marc ultimately mastered. We didn’t get a picture because by the time we ate dessert, we had retired to the couch to watch Xmas movies and sip Grand Marnier.

If this meal is any indication, we are going to have some fine holiday meals. Lookin’ forward to Valentine’s Day.

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