Wednesday, November 27, 2013

obrigado

They say your twenties are for being selfish. They fail to mention, however, how much living abroad amplifies the tendency. As much as it embarrasses me to admit, I'm not entirely looking forward to going home. I'm afraid to face the imperfections of the rest of my reality with the research timer on my master's thesis set and my Parisian life on pause. But, on particular days like this one, I'm especially reminded to appreciate these self-centered concerns. Because, really... how blessed can someone be to have loved ones unconditionally support her ambitions, to enjoy time and space to study her passions, to belong to more than one place? And, to celebrate her favoritest holiday multiple times before reuniting with family for the next two in New York. I'm thinking, very.
I met Phil and Tiphaine once, at the Kinfolk gathering; and for some reason they were kind enough to invite me to join in their Thanksgivukkah! Last Saturday, Sandra and I adventured south of Paris for a most unforgettable Franco-American feast:
Upon arrival, they served home-barrel-aged cocktails: a warm autumn punch made with bourbon and cider (my pick), and a seasonally spiced Negroni. Guests trickled in from near and far as the buffet table crowded with their generous contributions. To nibble during meets and greets, we helped ourselves to endive with blue cheese and local walnuts and wild rabbit rillette on toast.
Eventually, the Thanksgiving-Hannukah meal was served: green salads, latkes with apple sauce, deep fried/smoked turkey, stuffing (southernly referred to as "dressing" because it was prepared outside the bird), green bean casserole, lobster macaroni and cheese.
We digested with re-pours of wine until we were ready for dessert. My Belgian chocolate was nothing compared to the homemade pecan pie, chou au chantilly et potiron (pumpkin cream puffs), and an unexpected berry cake. Coffee, champagne, and a local porter aged on Fernet Branca barrel chips were served alongside. Phil and Tiphaine are obviously the best hosts in the whole wide world.
Eight hours later, I headed back to Paris with plenty of gratitude and leftovers. And I'm already excited for tomorrow's "Anksgeeving" dinner with grad school friends. Although I'm most definitely sad to miss my family's annual fête, I'm thankful for this new tradition, too. Oh! By the way, obrigado is Portuguese for "thank you." I'm especially fond of it because it's so similar to the Spanish abrigo (coat) and abrazo (hug). Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Let's embrace all that significance and share our gratitude generously:

23 comments:

  1. Oh this looks like it was a good one!
    Happy Thanksgiving Danielle x

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  2. What an incredible looking feast! Also reminded me of one of my favourite salads I must make while I'm home for the holidays... with Roquefort!

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    1. Can I come over when you make this salad? :)

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  3. Looks delicious ! I NEED to know more about this fernet-aged porter. I know of one made by a Colorado brewery and I'm trying to find some here.

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    1. I can't find anything about it and I'm so intrigued...do you know the brewery by any chance ? Merciiiii :)

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    2. It's a Levallois local? Not sure if they distribute, actually. I'll ask Phil!

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    3. The porter itself is from "My Beer Company" - that's the name, I swear, and no, it's not mine. However, I did the aging myself using medium toast virgin oak chips that had sat in Fernet for a week. After they had absorbed quite a bit, I tossed them and the remaining oaky liquid into a 9.5 liter mini soda keg that had been filled with the MBC porter.

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    4. This comment thread makes me extra happy.

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  4. Thanks for the write-up Danielle :)

    BTW here's the recipe for the rillettes, if any of your readers are interested. This is actually a French take on what I always heard called "brown jam" which was typically, in my neck of the woods in Arkansas anyway, pulled pork confited in hickory-smoked bacon fat.

    1 whole wild hare, gutted skinned and chopped, shot removed as much as possible
    800 g homemade bacon dice (lardons)
    800 g homemade pulled pork, NOT sauced, just plain
    2 whole spanish (yellow) onions, finely diced
    2 tablespoons armagnac (Apple brandy from Normandy, actually came from the still of a friend who lives up there)
    4 stalks fresh rosemary
    2 bay leaves
    20 g cracked black pepper or other pepper
    A few liters (~quarts) of apple cider, unfiltered and unpasteurized if possible.

    Start off by cold smoking the rabbit over a mix of apple and hickory wood chips. You can make your own cold smoker by taking an empty tin can, torching the inside so as to remove the (toxic when heated, don't breathe in the smoke!) lining, using a key-type can opener to create a small opening on the bottom that can fit a (new, unused) soldering iron. Put the soldering iron in the opening so the heating element is completely inside the can, fill with wood chips, cover the opening with aluminum foil (and poke some holes in it), then plug in the soldering iron and put it in your weber at the very bottom. Put whatever you want to cold smoke as far away from the soldering iron as possible, because it will generate some heat.

    That's the hardest part, honestly.

    While that's smoking, slowly render the lardons in the oven in an oven-safe skillet, then transfer lardons and most of the grease to a crockpot.

    Add the onion dice to the still-hot skillet and cook until translucent but not browned. Scoop out the onions and whatever fat is left and put that into the crockpot with the bacon.

    Take half the cider and add it to the pan to deglaze, make sure to scrape up the good bits. Add this liquid to the crock pot, and then add the pulled pork and then cold-smoked (still raw) rabbit. Add enough cider to cover everything by ~1/2"/2cm, and add the armagnac, bay and rosemary.

    Set the slow cooker to low and walk away for 12 hours or so.

    Once cooked, separate whatever liquid is left from the meat, and put in the fridge, or outside if it's cold enough and you can keep it away from the cats. Debone and shred the rabbit, using your fingers to try to find any shot that might be left. Try to get all the little bones and whatnot. Add all the meat to a big bowl.

    Once the liquid has cooled and the fat has collected on the surface, skim off this fat (throw away the liquid, or use it to cook egg noodles) and add it back to the bowl with the meat. Mix well and transfer to an oven-safe terrine.

    Turn the oven on low, around 200 F/100 C, lower is better. Smoosh everything down as best you can, so that you have an even meatloaf-like solid mass.

    Put it in the oven and let it slowly render whatever fat might still be in solid form. You want about 1/8" or so layer of liquid fat on top, so that if you push the whole thing down with a spoon, fat collects easily into the spoon. If you don't have enough, add bacon fat (surely you have a jar of collected bacon fat in the fridge for such occasions?) until you get to that point, more or less. Let the top crisp up a bit, but don't let it burn.

    After maybe two hours or so, take the pan out of the oven, and let it cool. Serve to vegans and tell them it's celery and beetroot pate.

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    1. It's the least I can do, Phil! THANK YOU for the recipe :)

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  5. Fabulous Danielle! especially loved the end with your suggestions of sharing gratitude. Very cool of Phil to post the recipe too :) LITB

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  6. You had me at "seasonally spiced negroni". This looked wonderful (I'm practically salivating over my keyboard), I'm so happy you had a great Thanksgiving! and hopefully see you for another one tomorrow ;)

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    1. Edna, here's the negroni recipe, this makes a little over 1 liter:

      20 oz gin
      7.5oz Carpano Antica
      5 oz Cynar
      5 oz Campari
      2.5 oz Fernet Branca
      10 dashes Angostura
      10 dashes Peychaud’s

      Sit on 0.5 ounces of medium toast oak chips until it tastes right, about 1 week. To chill, plunk frozen orange quarters in and stir. Serve using a turkey baster :-p

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    2. And there ya go, darling. So glad I saw you on Thanksgiving Day!

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  7. Looks absolutely delicious! Happy thanksgiving :)

    http://www.farfelue.com/

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    1. Oh, and it was :) happy thanksgiving to you! xo

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  8. Wooo! Sounds great. Also sounds like you are working on that transition anxiety darn well! If you ever want a proof-reader for your thesis let me know! I love reading stuff and giving feedback. We have a writers club at work, and it has been a game-changer for sure. My friend, who is researching the journey of refugees to Australia, has been researching social inclusion/exclusion and the more specific social cohesion. These might be areas of interest to you too!

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    1. Thank you, thank you! I'll be sure to reach out when I have something for you to actually read :) I really appreciate the offer and your thoughtful suggestions.

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  9. This looks so fantastic! Your pictures are great!

    www.atgatsbys.blogspot.com

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