Today it is not raining and Mrs. Parish and I are awaiting the arrival of our son, Ian and daughter in law, Emma so we can officially start Christmas. Of course, arriving with them will be two dogs. The famous three-legged Keeshond called Tommo and the Romanian orphan dog that is Kiki. I sometimes wonder why nothing seems ever ordinary about the animals in my life. The arrival of two dogs will not be welcomed by our cats who will see this as an intrusion and a restriction on their contractual rights to time indoors.

Our Christmas so far has been one of indulgent treats and we started on Friday with a Christmas meal at one of our favourite village restaurants, Le Briccius at Brece. This is one of the restaurants that provides cheap but excellent meals for a fixed price. Normally their three-course lunch (plus wine or cider and coffee) costs 12.50 Euros. On Friday we went for a special Christmas menu and had to book. The meals are so popular that there were two sittings. One at 12 noon and one at 1-30pm. Together with some of our English friends we decided to treat our good friends, Emile and Yvette in appreciation of all they do for us (cider and Calvados particularly).

The Christmas menu was 17 Euros and for that we had a superb menu cooked by the patron, Benoit who is an exceptional chef. We started with a kir (in fact we had all started at 12-30 round at Emile’s for an aperitif of his home made Pommeau (a mixture of apple juice and calvados).

The choice of starter was 

Terrine de gibier maison et sa compote d’oignons au Beaujolais or Brioche de chapon et truffe francaise (Home-made game terrine and onion compote with Beaujolais or brioche of capon and French truffle)!!

The main meal was 

Pave de veau sauce morilles, blinic de pomme de terre et sa poelee forestiere aux marrons or Saute de sanglier, sauce grand veneur aux cranberries, gratin legumes a l’emmental et sa pomme fruit au calvados (Pave of veal with morel mushrooms, blini of potato and fried forest chestnut or saute of wild boar, hunters sauce with cranberries, gratin vegetables with emmental and an apple with calvados)


For dessert

Crème brulee a la bandiane et son speculoos or Feuilletee pailletine praline choclat et sa crème anglaise au café torrefie et marbre au chocolat (Crème brulee with star anise and a and a spiced shortcake biscuit or layered praline chocolate and custard with roast coffee and chocolate marble.)

Coffee and an orange to finish and to accompany the meal red or white wine or cider!

I had the brioche followed by the wild boar and the chocolat combination. It was a fantastic meal and incredibly good value for money. 4 courses with wine and coffee and all for 17 Euros. Around £15!!! It is also such a great atmosphere with the restaurant full with people from all walks of life together enjoying the food.

After the meal we all went back to Emile’s for another coffee but this time with some of his calvados. A great way to spend a day. Mrs Parish and I returned home late in the afternoon and spent the evening sleeping in front of a lovely log fire.

That was just the first of our treats! One of the great benefits of living in rural France is that if you make an effort and can speak some French it is easy to get to know local people and local farmers. Through our friends Sarah and Ian, we have got to know a French farmer Olivier, his wife Valerie and their children Remy and Marie. Olivier is a dairy farmer and also raises other animals and birds. Most of which he sells to big companies who process the food and sell to supermarkets etc. However, Olivier also sells some direct to customers he knows and we have a freezer full of beef, pork, veal and lamb that have come direct to us. 

This also has advantages at Christmas as we get offered special treats and usually get some cream. This year we have also been offered a duck and a capon. This seemed to be too good to decline and so we have both. Fortunately, the birds come fully plucked and drawn! Sarah acts as the organiser and we keep getting calls with the latest special offers. It is good for us but helps Olivier’s cash flow.

A couple of days ago we had a call from Sarah with the question “would you like some foie gras” as Valerie is making some and has a couple of jars spare. So now we have a jar of foie gras in our fridge and our menu for our first Christmas starts off with this and then we will have to decide on whether to have duck or capon for Christmas dinner this week. Of course, we could always have a leg of lamb. Patrique, who grazes his sheep in our paddock has just asked if we want our leg of lamb (rental payment) for Christmas!

We have ordered a chocolate log from our local bakery in Ambrieres (luckily our baker is also a chocolatier). There is still a full wine cave with plenty of bottles left over from the foire aux vins so we will be able to accompany whatever is our choice with some fine wine. And to finish we have a choice of Emile’s calvados or some very nice malt whisky.

The cats have just come in to prepare for their tea and a bit of in time. We have had to rescue a batch of sausage rolls from Archie who thought his Christmas had arrived early! No doubt there will be some scraps left over from our Christmas dinner as compensation for putting up with dogs!

Talking of which our guests will soon be here and so I had better get organised. I have already made a fish pie (one of my few specialities) for this evening but will need to go and select some wine to go with it. Once I have fed the cats.

The three French hens are all looking relieved that we have bought in our festive meat as Christmas is a nervous time for them. They seem to be back to laying eggs regularly to make sure we know that they are egg layers and not for cooking! The little owl is sat on his aerial and seems quite relaxed about Christmas.

Three French Hens

Two outside cats

And a Little Owl in a dead tree

So, Christmas has started here at La Godefrere. There will not be a blog next week due to the fact that we will be too busy eating and drinking. The blog will resume on New Year’s Day. No doubt there will be lots to report on the crazy world here at La Godefrere.

From all of us here at La Godefrere 

Have a very merry Christmas

Bonnes fetes de fin d’annee