One from the vaults: Evoking fond memories

It’s most unlikely I’ll be doing my hostess with the mostest during this Festive Season. Instead, I’ll have to dive back into Christmas periods past such as this one in 2011. 

If I’m not spending time out on the bike, there’s no where else I’d rather be than the kitchen. After my successful cheffy attempts last week end to impress a couple of French guys, I’m cooking for a bunch of friends tomorrow evening. I’ve no need to impress, they know what I’m capable of in the kitchen. We have dinner together on a regular basis;  sometimes in one another’s homes, sometimes in restaurants. Whose place we eat at tends to depend on the time of year.

One couple have a delightful flat in Beaulieu sur Mer, close to the beach. This makes them our go to location for beach picnics. The other couple live like us in an apartment with a wonderful view of the sea. However, they have a much bigger terrace and an adjacent garden where they can easily accommodate eight or more. I, on the other hand, have the largest dining room, so I tend to be the hostess of choice in winter.

Many moons ago, on one of the guy’s first trip from behind the then Iron Curtain to Austria, he ate Kaiserschmarr’n, a well-known and popular dessert. On subsequent trips, when he’s been racing in the Giro d’Italia or Tour of Austria, he’s enquired as to its availability at each hotel and has been sorely disappointed. Largely, I suspect, because it’s a dessert which needs to be made to order. It’s a thick, souffle pancake studded with plump rum soaked raisins, dusted with icing sugar and served with a slightly tart fruit compote. I had promised him that the next time he came to dinner I would make it for him. Accordingly, I’m serving everyone a traditional Austrian meal.

We’re starting with a few nibbles including smoked salmon and caviar, washed down with champagne. Then, I’m serving tagliarini with a truffle butter sauce. The main course is an Austrian colossus, “Tafelspitz” with all the trimmings. It’s boiled beef, but not just any beef. I use ribs of beef but have the butcher take them off the bone to make it easier to carve. The beef is slowly simmered in a vegetable stock to which I have added the bones. When cooked, it just melts in the mouth. I’m serving it with traditional accompaniments: creamed spinach, saute potatoes, chive sauce and horseradish. Dessert will be the afore-mentioned Kaiserschmarr’n with spiced plum compote and apple strudel with vanilla sauce, and ice cream.

You might think that two desserts is somewhat over the top but, don’t forget, the one couple has teenage sons with the obligatory hollow legs who can easily consume their own body weights. I should add that there’s also home-made bread and petit fours, plus a cheese course. No one’s going to go home hungry and we’ll all need a long ride on Sunday morning.

The key to enjoying dinner parties, IMHO, is planning and preparing as much as possible in advance. I’ve done that and stuff is either in the fridge ready for tomorrow or sitting in the freezer waiting to be defrosted at the last minute. I just need my beloved to decide which wine and champagne he’s going to serve in his capacity as Chief Bottle Opener. (You may recall he’s since been promoted to Officer in Charge of Drinks.)

24 Comments on “One from the vaults: Evoking fond memories

  1. Mmmmm, yum! We often went to week-long skiing trips to Austria from Slovenia where I’m from, or shopping day trips. Father lived and worked in Vienna for six years and I often visited him there. I remember the “schmarn” as we called it well. I was surprised to see you call Austria a land form the other side of the iron curtain, though, or am I mistaken? I would say it was pretty much on this, Western, side, with eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary etc. on the other side. Whereas us in then Yugoslavia were non-aligned and could swing both ways. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  2. love all sorts of Austrian sweet dishes! had Kaiserschmarr’n too but never attempted to make it myself:) #secretsanta

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ♡ Interesting Control Freak; just how do you know that meat “melts in the mouth when YOU!!! ARE Vegan 🤔 ? A ‘Vegan’ Friend recently admitted to secretly eating bacon


    Liked by 1 person

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