Sunday, 11 September 2016

Annecy, part one: Mulling Things Over With Vin Chaud

Annecy, France (Annecy, France)
Christmas 2015
The overnight train was largely uneventful and we spent it trying to sleep. When that failed, we read. 
Once the sun had risen and we disembarked, stretching our cooped up legs, we were greeted warmly by our former roadtrip-pal and fellow Denis-lover Fabienne. Her flatmates had gone for the holidays so we were able to throw all our stuff on the floor and not worry about bothering anyone. The view from the kitchen was spectacular - you could see the Église Notre-Dame-de-Liesse among the town's rooftops, with a backdrop of the Alps.

During the week we spent in Annecy, we visited the Christmas market several times, mostly for the super delicious vin chaud! (Though the literal translation is simply "hot wine", it's so much more than that: spices and fruit are added to make what the English call "mulled" wine. Fun fact: the earliest known version of mulled wine dates from 2nd-century Rome.)

Fabienne had already scoped out which of the mulled wine stalls were the best, so we beelined for her favourite. And oh em gee it was so good that I had two and wanted to go back every single day for more. 'Tasty' would be a gross understatement.

At one stage, though all three of us had tried chestnuts before and disliked them, we decided to procure a small bag of roasted chestnuts to sample from a stall disguised as a train. Yeah...we didn't like them. Neither their taste nor texture are appealing in any way. I won't be giving them another chance.

The market didn't just have food, but all manner of interesting things including potential Christmas gifts. These colourful dolls in particular stood out to me, though I didn't know anyone who might want one so they remained on the display table.

When we weren't drinking and eating at the market, we were crafting up recipes galore with wine to accompany them. With our pizza night, we drank the Syrah that was given to us by the Tarragona hotel staff who now have our tent and camping stove. It was very nice, though not necessarily better than French wine. Unverified: further testing required.

Speaking of alcohol, we never ran dry of the stuff. Our centrepiece was a Mumm champagne to drink with Christmas dinner, and aside from that the cider and wine flowed freely. If you haven't been to Europe you may wonder how we afforded all of this, but let me put it into perspective: we rarely paid over €1.50 for a bottle of cider, and not much more than that for wine. The champagne, though, was a splurge!

Boy oh boy did we have a great Christmas dinner. Roast chicken and vegetables, with red wine to wash it all down.

But perhaps the most impressive part of that day was the dessert. Yannick and Fabienne insisted on making not only chocolate mousse, but three-tiered chocolate mousse. I threw up my hands and said I wouldn't help, thinking it would be much too difficult and everything would go wrong. Though the textures were different in all of the layers, I'll admit it turned out very well and we were eating mousse for days afterwards. Fabienne also made a super successful pavlova with berry coulis, which we couldn't resist having as well as the mousse. It certainly was a great Christmas day.

Today's post was almost called: Joyeux Noël - There’s No Home Like Family