It Was (and is) a Very Good Year

Another wonderful birthday has gone by and I feel so very blessed, lucky and loved. Not that presents are important, but I'm sure you want to know what I got.

It actually started the day before when we got six bottles of some of my favorite wines (two Crozes Hermitage, two Pouilly Fume and two Cru Bordeaux Cantemerle). The next morning I came downstairs and saw a beautifully wrapped hortensia plant in the sweetest shade of powdery pink. With that was a glossy home magazine, an overwhelmingly large bar of white chocolate and a gorgeous card. 'Just a little something' said my sweet husband. The rest would come later. Kirstie also surprised me by making a lovely card with lines from some of my favorite French songs. As far as I was concerned, I didn't need anything else.

But, that evening, Hans took me out to dinner to a cozy, little nearby bistro Hemel op aarde- which translates to 'Heaven on Earth'. And it was heaven on earth! We started off with some appetizers- Hans had the carpaccio of smoked Wagyu filet with truffel and parmesan. I had the mini- lobster croquettes served with saffran mayonnaise. Both very tasty, but the real treat was our main course- a Wagyu beef entrecote. I don't think I've ever eaten such a fantastic cut of beef! It was beautifully full- flavored and deliciously tender. I ordered mine with a pepper- cognac sauce and Hans had his with a Dijon mustard coating. The meat was served with a bowl of perfectly crisp fried potatoes, a salad and assorted seasonal vegetables. For dessert, Hans chose the fruit sorbet served with forest fruit coulis and I had the coffee creme brulee which was spectacularly flambed on the table! The cherry on the sundae was a tiny glass of rose liqueur- absolutely fantastic, though strong enough to knock you out after just one tiny glass!

The next day we headed to some of my favorite shops for all sorts of odds and ends for the house- satin sheets (my second set this week), tall candle holders, bathroom accessories, a very elegant butter dish and flowers. After a delicious lunch, Hans insisted that we visit Oldenhof, my favorite cooking store. He wanted to buy me a lid for my copper Mauviel pan and ended up getting my pan a sibbling! I can now boast to the world that I am the proud owner of two Mauviel pans- Francine (the 4.6 liter frying pan and Jacques (the 3.5 liter saucepan). I love these pans for the way they look but oh man are they awesome for cooking (yes, I know, that's what they're actually meant for)!

I went to bed Sunday evening with a smile on my face. It was (and still is) a very good year!

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