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Continuing in the Same Vein

I hope you all enjoyed Christmas as much a I. Christmas Eve saw Mrs B, the budding wine merchant and me decamped to the bosom of my family in the countryside of south Surrey. Joseph had 6 cousins to play with and grew ever-more excited in his discovery of the joys of present opening.

Christmas Day saw a sizeable bird on the table; in fact, not one, but two birds (a turkey stuffed with a goose) and rather more sizeable than intended, as in the place of the requested 4-6 kilo item, a 10 kilo sumo-bird had appeared. My poor sister had to set her alarm especially early on Christmas morning just to get the thing in the oven.

A goose-within-a-turkey makes very fine eating, the goose basting the turkey from the inside and preventing it from drying out during the cooking process. I had opened a magnum of the 2000 Chateau La Tour de By the night before and removed a small quantity for a) quality control purposes and b) to give the liquid more room in which to breathe overnight. In any event, it was delicious: rich and with the fullness and structure of the vintage; young and full of blackcurrant fruit. I don't remember drinking a better example from this dependable chateau.

The festive period was punctuated with glasses of champagne and crisp whites that served as excellent pick-me-ups. All-in-all, a fabulous festive season and all the better for being the first one that young Bowes could appreciate.

Not being one for New Year's resolutions (the realisation of one's lack of will-power putting something of a dampener on what is already the butt-end of the year), we invited friends over last night to eat the block of foie gras that Richard and I had bought in Beaune during our Burgundy sojourn. I tend to prefer my foie gras fresh, flash fried and accompanied by something fruity, but this block of the stuff was the real deal, managing an extraordinary feat of appearing quite light in the mouth, and yet richly flavoured and substantial at the same time. The brand and source for the foie gras had been recommended by Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière, owner of the Domaine Bonneau de Martray, so one would have expected no less!

To go with this decandent mouthful? Home-made milk loaf, lightly toasted, plus a bottle of 1967 Château Suduiraut. I have tasted this venerable Sauternes before as a client requested that I "get some in" for a dinner to celebrate his wife's birthday (she being of that vintage); I couldn't resist adding an extra bottle to the order for home use. I am embarrassed to report that the bottle we consumed last night was quite quite the best of the batch. The others were hand carried to Hong Kong, where they were consumed shortly thereafter, and it is quite possible that they were suffering from a touch of travel sickness. Last night's bottle was a beautiful coppery gold colour, the nose complex and full of coffee and roasted nut aromas, the palate still with a delightful sweetness. No need to report that it went extremely well with the foie gras.

The fatty bit of the meal was followed by three salads and a Mosel Kabinett of but 8%: just as well, for pudding was pears poached in grappa and it was only afterwards that we noticed that the grappa came in at a hefty 50%abv. Maybe the pears were to blame for the fact that I struggled to wake up this morning...
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