I have discovered something so powerful, so transformative that I wonder that I was blind to it for so long. Let me backtrack a little and explain. Recently, I did some renovating in my kitchen and dining room. I agonized over light features, sinks and countertops. I fussed over paint chips and the perfect finishing touches. I replaced all the tired appliances in my kitchen with whizzy new ones with a bewildering array of features. In fact, the features were so bewildering that I dared not use them! Monsieur, however, took up the challenge and treated me to a culinary feast that would have impressed a Roman emperor. The day started off on a lovely note with a bouquet of perfect blooms. You will notice that the roses are not quite red and not quite pink but that eyecatching union of the two. Now, I know that a red rose signals passion and a pink rose signals love so for the twain to meet in perfect harmony in the velvety petals of a rose, what better opening act could there be than that? But there was more to follow. Monsieur prepared tartines of Chaource cheese which is a wonderfully rich cow's milk cheese made of triple cream, an earthy pork pate and slices of baguette.
All the while, this Muscovy duck, stuffed with oranges and farmer's sausage was roasting away.
Fingerling potatoes and shallots finished off by roasting them in duck fat.
The piece de resistance was dressed with a Concord grape reduction made with white wine and pan juices. The tart sweetness of the grapes were an unexpected counterpoint to the richness of the duck.
Only the best china for Monsieur's efforts so everything was served of course on Wedgwood china.
There is one other ingredient to this feast of culinary delight which lifted this meal from the extraordinary to the sublime and will, I guarantee, do the same for any meal. It is that it was done with an abundance of love.
So what was my wondrous discovery? That all the renovating and decorating in the world counts for nothing without that missing "X Factor", loved ones living, loving and laughing, transforming a house into a home.