D-Day has arrived. Tonight we cook dinner for our friends from Riboto de Taven. A daunting task, given their culinary skills, but something we want to do to be able to offer them the hospitality of our “home” in France. They work six days a week, serving dinner every night, so it is nice to give them the chance to get out and relax, and we enjoy their company.
We have selected a menu that presents a variety of problems: the starter is asparagus, which is out of season – ditto the Cavaillon melon. David found some giant asparagus from Peru in one of the vegetable markets, so we will go ahead, but are not sure how to cook stalks this big properly. Raw shrimp is unheard of in this part of France, meaning we have to use cooked shrimp and risk it being overdone, or go with frozen tiger shrimp – we opted for the latter. Panko, or even bread crumbs are not available, so we have made our own from baguettes and a rolling-pin.
Armed with a pound of delicious Isigny St. Mere butter, I started the prep work, putting together the sauce for the tagliatelle, and butter for the garlic bread. The garlic here is wonderful, so soon the house was filled with its delightful aroma. While I worked on that and the filling for the scampi, David got to work on the shrimp, removing the heads, peeling and de-veining them, then brining them for 30 minutes. We arranged them in the dish, and they looked pretty good.
For the asparagus, we trimmed them to a point where they should be tender, then David peeled the stalks. We boiled them until they felt done, then removed, drained, arranged them in a dish, and put in the fridge. Later I will add Buratta (which we found in St. Remy), cooked jambon cru (the French version of prosciutto), and chopped walnuts.
The salad was a snap. We added a bit extra with the addition of smoked bacon, then popped it in the fridge. Our appetizers were simple – slices of pork sausage, anchoiade, and tapenade.
At this juncture we were in pretty good shape – only the wines and dessert left. We headed into town and stopped at the boulangerie, where I picked out a wonderful three-chocolate cake, then strolled down to the wine shop. David picked out a bottle of Deutz Champagne for our aperitif, then two bottles of superb Domaine Trevallon (made by a friend of Philippe’s) for the red. For the white, he picked out one of our favorites, a Coin de Cache from Mas de la Dame in Les Baux.
We now were pretty well set, so relaxed with a glass of wine and a lunch of sandwich jambon, which David kicked up a notch by adding slices of farm Reblochon cheese, and a piece or two of two-year-old Comte.
My phone rang and we were disappointed to hear the Jean-Pierre’s wife, Claire, would not be coming, as she was under the weather. Sorry we will miss her, but it will be nice to see everyone else, and of course Fred.
Table set (and looking nice), dishes prepped, wines breathing and chilled. We were all set when everyone arrived at the mas. They brought a wonderful red wine as a gift, a reserve Rhone bottling done by Mr. Reynaud, owner of famed Chateau Rayas, just for Riboto-de-Taven. We will leave it at the mas and enjoy it with them on our Spring visit. David put out some snacks, and Philippe opened the Deutz. Toasts all around, and the evening was off to a nice start – everything goes better with Deutz.
David had made a fire, which crackled and warmed the room. and everyone was having a good time. I put out the salad to start. All of it disappeared, which was a real confidence booster. Next, the asparagus, which looked great and was a hit. Everyone loved the Buratta and jambon with it, and almost all of the big stalks disappeared.
The tagliatelle came next and disappeared from everyone’s plate. We turned to Jean-Pierre on the doneness of the scampi, and pulled it out when it was perfect. Plates filled and emptied several times, glasses were filled and re-filled with the wines, and we all were having a delightful time. Philippe cut and served the cake for a perfect end to a perfect night.
Fred had been perfectly behaved the entire night, but now let it be known that it was time to go home, so everyone hopped in the car for the ride back over the Alpilles.
A wonderful evening.