As is usual now for us, we have a big meal with my inlaws for New Year’s Eve. We almost lost track of time with our feasting but did get the grapes on the table in time for the countdown. Once again, it was a big grape fail though I just stared hard at a cupboard chucking down grapes as fast as I could (I didn’t make it) while Blai gave up less than halfway through and burst out laughing. This year, our New Year’s Eve started again with plenty of seafood and croquetes and fried sliced artichokes – this last dish has been perfected by Blai’s mother and they are sublime.
All this was followed by a second course of a retro classic: duck a l’orange. The sauce was lovely, with a fresh stock made by Blai’s mother, and just sweet-tangy and fruity enough to pair well with the gigantic duck breasts.
And the next day, the first day of 2010, we once again visited Blai’s extended family out in their village. Every year, the meal, cooked by Blai’s aunt, highlights food hunted and gathered by her husband and son and every year, it’s really quite special. We had xató (a Catalan salad of escarole and baccala with a dressing similar to romesco) to start with the escarole grown by Blai’s uncle, the leaves perfectly capturing the thick, nutty, spicy dressing. Even the small olives were their own!
The second course was braised partridge and pigeon, the birds hunted by Blai’s cousin. The game had been braised to impart some degree of tenderness to the usually tough meat but it had a great flavour. This was served with cabbage rolls – the leaves stuffed with meat and then rolled, battered and fried. So delicious and well, frying makes everything excellent! Alongside were some mushrooms also foraged by Blai’s cousin – there’s a great passion for mushroom hunting in Catalunya as evinced by this strange mushroom hunting game we found online. I forgot to photograph it but there was also a dish of roast beef, served with the most delectable onion sauce – Blai’s aunt is also a fabulous cook!
To finish, a whole selection of sweets from various torrons to little pastries brought by Blai’s mother from Barcelona (from Pastisseria Bonet). Blai’s grandfather and I both were most fond of these little frogs made of lots of buttercream and cake!
When we got back to Barcelona that night, we could barely eat any more… I think I just ate a small piece of toast with pernil (that’s in Catalan: it’s jamón in Spanish). It was indeed feasting for new year’s eve and day!
Finally, with lots of relaxing and thinking time during my holiday, I thought of a few food resolutions for 2010 and beyond and instead of just storing them in my head, where they’ll linger and grow mold, I thought that perhaps sharing them here will give me that extra little push to follow through with them.
1. Eat more fish.
2. Make sausages.
3. Learn more or come up with more super fast weekday meals. Try not to resort to takeaways so often.
4. Bring lunch to work more often.
5. Stop being so lazy and cross town more often.
Generally, I want to cook more and save a little more money. Of course, none of these is helping with my aim to lose a little weight; I’m not sure whether it’s due to my excessive greediness or a losing battle with age and a reduction in my metabolism or probably a mixture of both but I ain’t what I used to be. Roll on, 2010.