Another Christmas Day has come and gone – but somehow Christmas isn’t really over until New Year’s Day, so it’s still good to wish people all the best. We’re having a lovely Christmas – our first at the vineyard. Went to church at 11pm Christmas Eve, singing carols and holding candles. It was pretty special to come out just after midnight, to a soft rain falling, then go home to bed, looking forward to waking up and opening all those presents under the tree:
I love decorating the Christmas tree, and this year I made gingerbread biscuits, which I cut out in the shapes of hearts, stars, and Christmas trees, then iced them in colourful icing and put holes in them to hang on the tree. I also made five little people, dressed them in coloured icing, and put initials on them for each of Colin’s grandchildren – Finn, Amy, Ruba, Rosie, and Isabella.
Colin, as usual, made the Christmas Cake, a recipe handed down from his mother, who he thinks probably got it from her mother. Colin’s modified it a little, by soaking the fruit not just in brandy and sherry, but also a bottle of James Pinot Noir. We bake this enormous cake in a wooden cake baking box, which sounds bizarre but is far superior to using a metal tin. The cake’s frozen, then thawed and iced just before Christmas Day. It’s incredibly rich, but delicious, and looks splendid:
Colin’s youngest son Ben arrived the day before Christmas, so there would be just four of us – a very civilised Christmas. We had a piece with a glass of sherry, after Mum arrived at 10.30.
Then we opened the presents – books, fountain pen, placemats, sweets tray, French stockings and Italian socks, and an icecream maker for me. Cufflinks, car washing set, gin & tonic glasses, massage cream, book, apron.
At 2pm we sat down to lunch – whitebait fritters, followed by roast turkey (brined, a la Nigella Lawson), roast pumpkin, fresh snap peas, asparagus. Then it was Christmas pudding, a Maggie Beer recipe – huge, and boiled in a calico bag the traditional way. I got the giggles when unwrapping it as Colin was sure I’d made haggis by mistake. We lit brandy and poured it over, then served with whipped cream and brandy butter.
And the wines? Well, nothing but the best, of course. Champagne 1990 Henriot, then 1998 Puligny-Montrachet premier cru, then the red – Latour 1988. Spoilt! And then the dessert wine – a Vouvray 1990.
We staggered away from the table, all lay down and had a sleep. No dinner was required, not surprisingly, but I went out and gave Lily and Smitty a carrot each.
And last, but most important, we spent much of the day on the phone wishing Merry Christmas to my children (in London, Germany, Sydney and Russell) and Colin’s children who weren’t here (in Wellington and Montreal).