Final phase

Place Massena, NiceAs we enter the final days in the run up to Christmas, I’m in full-on planning and preparation mode. What, but I thought you didn’t like Christmas? I know, I know. Actually, I’m not a fan of the commerciality of Christmas but there are aspects I enjoy. For instance, I love entertaining and on Sunday 23 December I’m hosting an English-ish Christmas Luncheon for our closest friends. I say English-ish as a number of sacred cows will be missing from the blow-out feast because I don’t like them. That’s right, I’ve banished sprouts. Actually, I like sprouts but they have an unfortunate effect on my beloved’s digestive system. Also banished are mince pies and Xmas pudding. Dessert is going to be a café gourmand with a selection of tempting desserts and petit fours. There’s also no starter. I’ve opted for a selection of delicious morsels which everyone can chow on  – foie gras, smoked salmon – while sipping their champagne, or coke in the case of the kids. This is a feast of serious proportions and everyone will be going for a long ride beforehand.

While I have infrequently cooked Christmas Day lunch, the key to entertaining – and I know I’m beginning to sound like a scratched record – is planning and preparation. The only thing I’ll have to do on Sunday morning is cook the turkey and re-heat or finish cooking the side dishes. I shall in no way be imitating those poor ladies on the Asda and Morrisons adverts. I’ll be very tranquillo on Sunday.

Of course, I have shipped in some child labour to assist. That’s right, I’ve none of my own so I’m borrowing a friends’. He’s going to be helping me with the chocolate chilli truffles – I like to make plenty to send people home with goody bags afterwards. In addition, we’ll be making the cheese crackers, the bread, the financiers, the gravy and the stuffing together before the big day. He and his brother love my roast potatoes, so I’m assuming he’ll be up for a spot of potato peeling too.

A teenage boy in the kitchen, are you mad? No, not at all, he’s a total sweetie and he’ll be a real help in the run up to Sunday. He’s coming to stay for a few days to give his family a bit of peace and quiet and, bizarrely, loves spending time with me. It’s gotta be cupboard love!

After he and his older brother spent a couple of weeks with me in the summer, I offered my beloved up in return but my friend said I would have to take her husband too. The three came as a package. I declined but it’s a decision I’m coming to regret as her husband has just remodelled their apartment. Who knew he was so good at DIY? To be fair he has said he’ll come round and do anything I need doing. I told him that the list was so long he might as well move into the spare bedroom for the duration.

I’ve just finished writing my shopping list and I’m off to the supermarket to do battle with my trolley. Wish me luck!