Wild West Party in Paris

September 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

My aunt’s 70th birthday bash on Saturday night was the raison d’être for my trip to Paris this weekend so I’d better say a few words about the main event.  The party had been organised by Auntie Madge’s lovely group of friends who go under the name of the Golden Girls.  They’d done her proud putting on a Wild West party (exactly why they chose this theme remains a mystery) complete with line dancing, a Clint Eastwood look-alike, friends and family from around the world, and of course lots of lovely things to eat and drink.

My own contribution was a couple of very simple salads put together from my purchases at Joël Thiébault’s beautiful market stall earlier that day (see previous post).  People often try too hard when asked to prepare something for a party – there are too many stars of the show – stunning terrines, tarts, three-bird roasts and the like and not enough simple salads.  I decided to put this right and threw together very quickly at my aunt’s apartment before the party a simple potato salad dressed with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  What made it special was the purple potatoes I’d used plus generous quantities of herbs – chervil and chives.  I also sliced up the motley bag of tomatoes I’d bought earlier, dressing them with olive oil, basil, salt and just a touch of lemon.  I’m gratified to say that both salads disappeared pretty quickly.

Here is an attractive way of serving a dip with crudités for a party.  That French sense of style just can’t be held back.

I mentioned that there were friends and family from all over the world.  My cousins Pierre and Alain are married to Meryanti (Indonesian) and Yuko (Japanese) respectively.  I have a great recipe for Beef Rendang from Mery (as she is usually known) which I will share one of these days.  Yuko is a fabulous cook and I will certainly be asking for some of her recipes too.

Yuko had pushed the boat out for the party and had come with a tray of what the French call verrines.  I was horrified at first thinking this might be something to do with earthworms.  The root of the word is verre – glass, not ver – earthworm and it turns out that verrines are dinky little shot-type glasses of filled with artfully constructed layers of delicious things to eat.  Yuko is both practical as well as talented so her verrines were in fact made of disposable plastic (plasticines perhaps?).  She’d filled them with layers of chopped prawns, fromage frais mixed with herbs and diced tomato.

It transpires that verrines are all the rage in France.  There are whole books, devoted to them and they can inspire flights of fancy leading to obsession.  Just have a look here for starters:

http://www.lesfoodies.com/recettes/verrine

and if that appeals, try this:

http://www.verrine.org/

Enough of this aside on verrines.  Not sure if they’ll catch on in the UK but if they do remember you read it first here!

My cousin’s wives Mery and Yuko really are from the far east (as opposed to Wild West) but stealing the show was second cousin Arthur who has reinvented himself as a Buddhist monk and now goes under the name Topgyal.  The purple and saffron robes certainly look good at a party.

Sadly my sister Jane couldn’t make it over for the weekend but it was good to have the chance to catch up with my dad.  Here we are both in matching cowboy check shirts, the cheat’s answer to fancy dress.

That’s the last of my Parisian posts – back home on Eurostar now with lots of new food ideas.

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