Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Day dinner on Christmas Eve

Our normal Christmas tradition here has become a seafood platter on Christmas Eve and our main festive meal eaten on Christmas Day. This year we reversed the order as we went to visit Chateau Chenonceau on the 25th with friends  Susan & Simon.

Walking up to the approach to the chateau
Simon had cleverly found out that the chateau was open on Christmas Day and it seemed a much better idea to enjoy an afternoon wandering round the grounds and chateau than sit at home in front of a TV showing endless "Christmas Specials" of dubious quality.
'Classic' view of Chenonceau in full winter sun
So on Christmas Eve we roasted our canette, which we ate with a mirabelle purée [made with our own mirabelles], rosemary & honey roast parsnips, haricots verts and a spiced red wine jus. The recipes for the red wine jus and the mirabelle purée were from the chef at The Devonshire Arms Hotel in Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire. Both were easy to follow and tasted great, though to be honest I didn't follow the jus recipe to the letter. For afters we had warm pears which had been poached in white wine, vanilla & star anise with vanilla ice cream.
A virtually empty long gallery
Stunning tree at the end of the gallery over the river
Round about 12:30 Susan and Simon arrived and off we went to Chenonceau for the afternoon. We'd visited the chateau before in the run up to Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, if we can, we avoid visiting it in summer at all costs as it is such a busy place.
Vaulted entrance hall with super decorations made up with red roses
One of the best decorations: the dressed table in the servant's dining hall
Although there were a few more people than we expected it was still pretty quiet; and, best of all the weather co-operated! For the first time in days we had blue skies and sun.
Lovely tree with Louis XIV lurking in the background
Chapel decorated as a winter wonderland
To get the best of the daylight we had a wander round the park and gardens first. We were worried that the visit would be a bit of a bore for Susan as she and Simon must have lost count of the number of times they have shown clients round! However, she pointed out that Simon stays with the car and she can never have a good look round on her own terms on these occasions and assured us it wasn't a Busman's holiday.
Last of the winter sun catching the top of Chenonceau
We left as it was growing dark and on the way home we stopped in the village of Sublaines to watch the international space station pass high above us in the sky -- an excellent Christmas Day.

17 comments:

Susan said...

I would definitely recommend it as a way to spend Christmas day and avoid the uninspiring telly.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - absolutely :-)

ladybird said...

What a 'grand' way to spend Christmas! Wish I could have joined you. Hope you are all well and that you're enjoying the Holiday Season. Big hug to you and a rub under the chin for Tinka and Shadow.

the fly in the web said...

Far far better than the clunking Christmas 'specials' on the box! Isn't it good to have clued up friends who know where to find a good thing!

I like the sound of the pears....I use cardamom, but the star anise and vanilla sounds very tempting. Pity that the pears here are miserable little beasts imported from the U.S.A....still, with a bit of wine and spice even they are edible...
Any trips planned for New Year?


Tim said...

" mirabelle purée [made with our own mirabelles]"....
and doesn't something like that taste good when you've picked the fruit!!
Er... what telly?
Have a wonderful Old Years Night...
may the haggis crawl!
T&P

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - echt een schot in de roos! Katinka & Shadow have enjoyed their 'skritches' ... oh and their Sheba ;-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - so much better and yes absolutely :-)

Poached the pears last year [fairly lightly] and put them with the poaching liquid in le parfait jars. Poached them further and reduced the liquid down to a syrup which went a treat with the ice cream. Did some with red wine which were equally good. Send you the recipes if you want.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Tim - absolutely! :-)

Aussie in France said...

I shall keep this in mind for another year. With family, though, it's difficult to get anyone moving until 3 pm! We went mushroom picking in the local forest on Christmas afternoon with just my son (the rest arrived on Friday) and we also able to enjoy the cooperative weather.

rusty duck said...

That's such a good idea. I remember visiting Chenonceau in the season you avoid. Not recommended.

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

A delightful way to spend Christmas day. I have fond memories of our visit to Chateau Chenonceau, not only for the beauty of the building and grounds, but also because of the stunning floral arrangements throughout the chateau. Best wishes for a wonderful 2015.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Aussie - we don't have family commitments so, like Susan & Simon are free to fill in the day as we want.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Elizabeth Eiffel - it is a lovely place, we think the scale gives it much of it's charm.
Best wishes for an excellent 2015 to you too.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Rusty Duck - when we came here on vacation we visited Chenonceau a number of times. Then we didn't have a choice and it was always heaving -- understandably so as it is a beautiful place. Now we have the luxury of choice :-)

Vera said...

We visited Chenonceau when we first visited France, but never got to look inside it because it was too crowded, so it is nice to have a quick peek at it via your photos.

Wishing you and your partner a happy new year! Vx

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Vera - we took loads so you might see a few more pop up on the blog :-)

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Perpetua said...

What a wonderful way to spend Christmas afternoon! I've only been to Chenonceau once, many years ago, but have never forgotten it. Your weather seems to be mirroring ours, as we went for a lovely walk on Port Meadow in Oxford on a brilliantly sunny Christmas afternoon. :)