Still not sure what to have as an entrée, coquilles St-Jacques would certainly be nice but I'm not entirely certain that I'll be able to find any in the supermarkets on Monday due to general panic-buying by people who find themselves with only a couple of kilos of the things so I might have to formulate a Plan B. I have some red cabbage (it looked so sweetly at me from the market stall, runt of the litter) and some carrots and apples, so a decent coleslaw is not out of the question and that does go rather nicely with eggs Benedict ...
The most time-consuming part, really, was getting the eggs Benedict ready, as it involves poaching each and every egg individually, given that I don't have one of those totally unfindable egg-poacher thingies. (Mind you, Beckham thought that was great. Either that, or she was seriously taking the piss when she said "Oh! Are you poaching the eggs? It's really clever, the way you make the water go round. But don't the eggs get dizzy?" The balance of probabilities is, I suspect, on the side of piss-taking.) That, and getting the barbecue burning nicely, and then going down to watch over the lamb as it cooked.
So once again the autoroute kind of looks like a sewer full of Parisians and other races: smelly, bloated and slow. On the bright side it only took me 20 minutes to get to Montmelian where I gratefully got off and took the back roads, unencumbered by anything more than other locals, doing exactly as I was, and the odd Dutch-person religiously following their GPS, which had told them that the D155 was, if not exactly on their itinerary, a good way to get home. Maybe.
The point, in any case, was that feeling all chipper and dashing and happy, garbèd I was in a decent white shirt and black bow-tie and the coat of many colours, ready to do battle with the old haglings at the market, and here I was stuck on some unspeakable small road behind a learner driver, some guy with a trailer loaded with unmentionables, and two Belgians in Volvos, all of whom apparently could not count higher than 20 'cos that's the speed we were doing.
Until we got into Chambéry itself, where our little caravan met up with others: a trickle of Germans here, five Dutch at a roundabout, a very lost-looking English Range Rover at one cross-road and a flock of Spaniards, traveling in convoy, screeching to a halt at a pedestrian crossing.
At which point, not having a malfunctioning GPS and, above all, not being demonstrably lost, I decided that they could bloody well get on without me, parked without paying (betting on the spirit of Christmas to protect me from the attentions of the meter maids) on one of the little side streets just underneath Bryan's place, and trotted off to the market on foot.
(Some people, incidentally, just will not take the simple option, and stop to ask for directions. Partly, no doubt, because they know that these directions will be barked out rapid-fire in some incomprehensible foreign language that sounds like a duck choking on its own vomit. Authoritative studies show, incidentally, that about 100% of these people are men. Just saying. And believe me, I know, I'm one of them.)
Not, let it be admitted, a wine for every occasion, but as an apéro or, if you subscribe to the "vin moelleux with foie gras" school of thought rather than being one of the righteous who prefer the driest white you can lay your hands on, then why not go for that, or else with dessert. But certainly a wine to be tried. Shall have to see if Bruno can't get me another case of the stuff.
That's not all, because while they're frying you also need to fry up, at a minimum, some onions and diced poivron with a good sprinkle of decent curry powder: kidney beans, sweetcorn, why not some blettes as well? So put the pumpkin steaks on baking paper on a tray, and fill the middles with this vegetable mixture, preferably bound with some blue cheese: into the oven with it. If you leave a little hollow on the top, you could probably break an egg into it about five minutes before you plan on eating.
And it went quite nicely with the simple steaks, quickly seared and served with a slice of foie gras and sauce béarnaise on top, that we were more or less forced to have due to the presence in the fridge of half a tin of foie gras, left over from the eggs Benedict. Waste not, want not, as they say.
Anyway, having got through Christmas everyone's preparing for New Year, which will involve even more oysters, smoked salmon, champagne and you name it. Which goes some way to explaining why, if another reason were necessary, I am currently avoiding Carrefour like the plague.
Happy New Year to you all, see you in 2013 I suppose. If all goes as we'd hope, somewhere warmer, down in the Aude. Take care now, and mind how you go.