This is all that remained of the best dinner party I think we've thrown. Of course (typical!) forgot to take pictures throughout it. One little apple galette has to bear witness to a 5 1/2 hour meal for nine. Great company (rowdy! fun!), great contributions (Katie brought a delicious local cheese and wine; Milan brought one back from Switzerland and wine; Matt and Laura brought fresh, homemade baguette; Jacinthe and Jeff brought three bottles of wine), and a super-luxurious winter meal.
Why so special? Part of it was what we ate. Though it was a bit of a risk using all new-to-us recipes, everything turned out perfectly - and came together on time.
First course (and the inspiration for the entire meal): foie gras from Le Petit Schiere in Paris on toast points with tokay gelee
Second course: chestnut and sherry soup with white truffle oil (instead of the topping in this recipe)
Main course: braised rabbit in grainy mustard sauce and brussel sprouts with wild mushrooms and fried shallots. I cut the brussel sprouts into chiffonade instead of roasting them whole. Cut the roasting time and made for a nice light texture. The rabbit was AMAZING. Might also have helped that my butcher got fresh (not frozen) rabbits in the same day that I needed them. And the brussel sprouts? Funny coincidence. Turns out that no one at that dinner likes brussel sprouts normally (including Cass and I); I am on a mission to learn to appreciate them. And this dish? Disappeared rapidly. Everyone exclaimed that it was the first time they'd enjoyed brussel sprouts. Can't argue with that!
Dessert: apple galettes with walnut paste (I substituted walnut paste both to fit with the loose "Normandy" theme of the dinner, and because I'm honestly not a huge fan of almond paste. I simply substituted walnuts for the almonds in this almond paste recipe - a bit oily to handle, but worked perfectly in the recipe.) I cut the caramel sauce, at Cass' insistence. Also, as my puff pastry came in rather small sheets so that, even with rolling it out, I couldn't fit five 5"-diameter rounds on each piece, my tarts were quite small. I obviously had to arrange the slices in a different manner because I couldn't get a fan of slices to fit on the top of the tart. Also, I cut the apples very thin so that they would cook through properly (see the reviews on the recipe; it seemed many had problems with this). I also didn't bother to remove the peels.
And to finish? 1984 Calvados we brought back from La Mere Poulard on Le Mont St. Michel.
Vive la France, non?