In Paris, they cook their lamb for 7 hours…

…and if you’re lucky, your name will appear on the guest list. Good stuff was served yesterday night at a friends’ place close to République, in a long, narrow street where Chinese craftsmen are lined up selling shoes and handbags en gros. We were 8 around the table, that’s the Chinese lucky number – but the food (and the excellent wine) was French through and through.

Salade rustique: smoked duck, foie gras, spinach, figues.

Our hosts had prepared the salad you can see above, a generous, late winter thing, with figues, cold cuts of smoked duck breast and cubes of foie gras (which alone serves as an indicator for a festive meal). Next came the lamb, the leg of lamb, that is, resting in a cast iron casserole, a grandiose yet somewhat relaxed piece of meat. L’agneau de sept heures, the 7-hours-lamb had been a classic long before cooking at low temperatures became fashionable again. Low temperatures don’t stress the roast as long as you don’t go higher than 120°C (248°F). For the rest, it isn’t rocket science: you season your roast, add some garnish, you close the pot, put it in the oven – and forget it (you could and should sear it first, to colour it and to add aroma). It’s ready when clouds of wonderful smell wander through your appartement.

Bad picture, good food: braised lamb, garnished.

Third course was: cheese (savoury Brie, St. Nectaire, and a goat’s cheese). Fourth course: a baked apple filled with a sweet almond/marzipan preparation. Calorie-wise, as you can guess, this was dinner for hard working people like, say, steel-benders… but who asks for calories when you’re enjoying good food in good company. And good wine: we were served an amazingly good Chateau le Chec, a beautiful Bordeaux and then a 2001 Montagne-Saint-Emilion. So good, in fact, that I didn’t feel the pouring rain while walking home…

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