Bonjour Dear French Market Friends,
The year has flown by and now we are almost into the New Year. Note we will be closed on the 1st of January, otherwise we are open every day.
On the 6th of January, in France, there is the celebration of Epiphany, when the three Kings visited the baby Jesus. A special cake is made, called the Galettes des Rois (The Kings’ cake). Whilst this is linked to the Christian religion, the origin of the cake probably goes back a long way before and was linked to the changing of the Seasons and the start of Spring with more sunshine. The cake is circular with a golden flaky pastry crust resembling the sun, with circular patterns cut in the pastry. Several recipes exist, one of the most wellknown versions is the one with a frangipane almond filling. Traditionally the cake contains a Feve (Lucky charm). The cake is cut into slices and the youngest member of the family hides under the dinner table and decides who gets which slice of cake, until one lucky person gets the Feve. This person is then crowned with a paper crown that accompanies the cake, and they are made the King, or Queen, of the party with the right to tell others what to do. It is a fun activity to do with the young children of the family even if you are not French,
I love this traditional cake and we always have one to share with family or friends. This year our amazing French Baker will be making Galettes des Rois and you can pre-order from us. There are 3 types, the traditional one with the frangipane filling. The “deluxe” version with frangipane and chocolate hazelnut filling, and the third one which is made with an apple filling. Each cake comes with a crown and a Feve (lucky charm). There are 3 sizes for 6 or 8 or 10 guests. We need a minimum of 3 working days advance notice for orders. Please contact me if you would like more information. We have also replenished our stock of individual pastries in the shop.
Lots of parties are happening at New Year’s Eve and we have several requests for whole wheels of cheese to serve. Our largest wheels are the pasteurised Brie and unpasteurised Brie de Meaux, which come in 3 kgs. Then we have 2kg wheels of Delice triple cream, Vacherousse and Tomme de Savoie. Next, we have the 1 kg Camembert du Bocage from Normandie, the 1kg wheel of delice triple cream, 1kg epoisses and 1kg buche de chevre goat’s cheese log. Then the 500g wheel of Reblochon, then the 250g and 150gr wheels of Camemberts. All of these make a great centrepiece for a buffet table. In individual units we also have the Tete de Moine in a 900g head, the Mont d’Or in a 350gr tub, the Epoisses in a 250gr tub, the Pont l’Eveque in a 220g box and the Munster in a 125g circle. You can combine any of these units to make a cheese board that your friends will climb into.
Apart from cheese for parties, seafood, particularly smoked salmon, caviar and fish roes are popular for décor. From Labeyrie in Paris, we have received a new stock of wild caught Pacific smoked salmon, the flavour is deeper and the texture more dense than the farmed salmon. From Italy we have also received pink salmon roe which have quite large eggs. The salmon pink colour of the roe is beautiful for decorations, even on a simple hardboiled egg with mayonnaise. The salmon roe comes in 50g and 100g jars. We also received additional stock of Baerii caviar. This beautiful caviar, raised in mountain lakes high up in Madagascar, has a grey to black colour, the roe is small to medium size. This caviar comes in 3 sizes, 30g, 50g and 100g tins.
For New year, Italian families share the traditional Pandoro cake. This is a panettone made with vanilla but excluding any fruit ingredients. The cake is formed in a high mound with fluted edges representing angel’s wings. The cake is usually dusted with fine icing sugar and served with a strong coffee. We still have a couple left in the shop, from our original stock of 130kgs of Panettones. I cannot believe how many cakes we sold this year!
If you are looking for an outdoor venue to celebrate New Year’s Eve, the Waterfront have just announced that the Firework display will take place.
For my recipe this week I decided to share one of my favourite party desserts. This is a Marquise au Chocolat, a decadently rich chocolate mousse which I first tasted when I stayed in France as a teenager, and I loved it. It was made for me by my hostess, Chantal, Vicomtesse de la Salle, and I have never forgotten it. This is a beautiful dessert to serve at a festive dinner. I found a recipe in my traditional Good French Food Cooking book by Mapie, Comtesse Toulouse Lautrec which I adapted slightly. It is not too difficult to make but I found it quite messy and ended up with chocolate all over me, which was very tasty. I added some fresh berries to decorate the dessert when I served it, I found their freshness helps to balance the richness of the mousse and they make a beautiful colour against the white cream covering the mousse. Serve with a glass of Mailly Grand Cru Champagne. See recipe below.
I wish you a great Festive New Year’s Eve party and good luck for the New Year.
Suzanne and The French Market Team