Saturday, December 27, 2014

It will soon be 2015. Guess that makes me a year older too(zut).

We went to the Alsace (northeast of here) for a "Christmas fix" and wine. Everything is so decorated at this time of year.  Alsace celebrates Saint Nicolas (6 dec) and not Pere Noël. The influence for Christmas is more germanic than french in the region. Just a little note, Strasbourg has had a Christmas market (Marché de Noël) since 1590.
The weather was warm, so there was no snow this year. Here are a few photos of Eguisheim, one the prettiest villages in France. In the summer, there are flowers everywhere.
Our hotel, waited for a car to leave, then this one pulled
in, so I gave up and took a photo

Walking down the main street- le Grand rue

Winemakers place

Plaza with church behind -Pope Leo IX (1002 - 1054)
was born here, so statue of Leo IX

Stork nest on top of church bell tower
The Alsace is known for its' storks(i.e. in the
summer, they migrate south for winter)

Nativity scene

Another winemaker

Part of the Christmas market (Marché de Noël)

Other half of the market- fountain still running
since it was warm

Market at twilight time

Very Christmasy stall with wreaths, santas, dolls...

Want a wooden tree?

Store next to the market

Same store, need Alsacienne pottery?
Pretzels (Bretzels) are big in the Alsace. Vin chaud is mulled wine

We stopped at this stall in the market to buy some sausage
(dry sausage is called saucisson)
and some cheese (sorry I left my purse in the photo)
Very good saucisson and cheese. In fact we
bought some foie gras saucisson...
We only stayed one night. It is about 3 hour drive to Eguisheim. Usually, we arrive in the afternoon, then go to Domaine Gruss for a wine tasting, buy wine, then across the street to the hotel, have dinner and leave the next morning (with our wine). Keith loves an Alsacienne dinner with Riesling, and we like Domaine Gruss.
Alsacienne wine is not as sweet as the German versions. Most of the white wines are drier.

Speaking of wine, for those of you who like french wines. The prices on some Bordeaux wines is down (this is not wine from the big names, but some of the regular Bordeaux wines). So Keith has been experimenting. How low can we go in price and still have a drinkable, agreeable wine? We have been down to 3€ (one we had below 3€ was not so good). Tonight we had a nice St Emillion that was about 5.50€. It was quite nice. We have done this with Burgundy wines too, and 3€ is about the limit there too. Just thought I would toss that note in.

We had a very nice Christmas at chez Hoquet. This year,  we had wild boar. It was delicious. We started with fish and salad as the entre (entre here is the starter course- entrance to main course), then wild boar with mashed potatoes and an incredible sauce, followed by the cheese course and then dessert! WHEW...Of course some very fine wine was served with each course. You eat slow and talk and relax. Dinner like this takes a few hours, not minutes!!
I did not think to get out my camera until later, so here is a photo of the cheese!
Need I say more...
One member of chez Hoquet had not been invited to sit at the table.
although he did score a few scraps later!
As always, we passed a pleasant afternoon, eating, drinking and enjoying our friends.

We have had such a warm fall. Not a lot of rain and many days in December were between 45°-55°. Some foggy, but warm. Well, that finally changed and we started to get a few nights below freezing (0° Celsius).  This morning (27 dec) everything was white and -1° C.  I got up a little after 7am, and of course the sun was not up yet. Everything had a pink glow. Hard to capture in a photo, but I tried anyway. By sunrise it was raining, and now there is very little snow on the ground.  Photo out the backdoor, actually through the door, I was not going to open the door with the wind blowing!

It was a softer pink, but because of lighting (or lack thereof)
it comes out a little more in the sepia tones. Should level
the horizon!!

Recipe  of the  Month
My truffles

These are so good. Bit fussy to make, but not that hard. A melon baller makes it a lot easier. Get creative and use other flavoring, or roll in nuts or sprinkles or...

Creamy inside

  •  ¼ cup butter
  •  3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  •  2 Tablespoons orange liquor (or other flavoring) -I used 3 TBS orange juice
  •  1 teaspoon orange zest
  •   4 ounces chocolate semi sweet (chopped)
Coating outside
  •  4 ounces chocolate semi sweet (chopped)
  •  1 Tablespoon oil or butter


  1.  Melt butter in sauce pan
  2. Add cream and bring to a boil while stirring
  3. Take off the burner
  4. Stir in chocolate and orange liquor and zest
  5. Stir until smooth
  6. Cover with film and put in the refrigerator until cool and firm
  7. Have a cup of boiled water ready, the melon baller and a cookie sheet covered with Parchment Paper
  8. Dip melon baller in hot water then into chocolate for a nice ball shape. Place on paper. Continue  until chocolate is all gone (dip in hot water each and every time)
  9. Put cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes
  10.  Just before taking the chocolate balls out of the freezer, melt the chocolate for the outside coating in a bain marie. Add oil  and stir well until very smooth
  11. When chocolate is melted, with two forks, dip ball in chocolate and then return to paper. Dip each one in the chocolate, careful to cover totally. Work quickly so ball does not melt.
  12.  Leave until totally cooled and hard on the outside..takes a little while-do not panic. You could put in the refrigerator to hurry the process.
ALL DONE… now eat one to be sure it is good!


This is a sauce used with potatoes. Much like sour cream and chives, but this is even better. Hmm, could be the fat content in the recipe (ya think)!! Also, it does not have the sour taste that sour cream has. Fromage blanc is not sour. We had this while in Alsace with potatoes browned in butter (now had bad is that for the health!). We both flipped over it, it was so very good. It is often put on baked potatoes too. Then of course, notice the ham on the plate in the photo I added.

It may be hard to make in the USA, unless you can get the Fromage Blanc. Not sure the greek yogurt would work as well. Notice from the photo how thick the sauce is.


  1. 800 gr (28 ounces) Fromage blanc (ou Fromage frais) à 40% fat [substitute Greek Yogurt, or Queso fresco]
  2. 200 gr (7 ounces) Crème fraîche épaisse (thick) 30% fat
  3. 50 gr Ail ( 2 regular cloves GARLIC), minced
  4. 100 gr (3.5 ounces) Echalotes ( 2 small or 1 large shallot or mild onion) chopped fine
  5. 30 gr Ciboulette (CHIVES- about 3 Tablespoons) chopped fine
  6. 10 gr Sel - salt to taste
  7. 1 gr Poivre - pepper to taste

Just blend everything together and refrigerate for about 2 hours for flavors to mix. Take out a little before using so it is not icy cold. Stir again and serve.

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