There weren’t any plans to go back home for Christmas this year, so it was a no-brainer to visit my friend Steph in Brighton, which was just a one and a half hour plane ride from Geneva.


The smell of the sea and deep-fry is Brighton to me. I’ve visited Steph twice before so I’ve walked along the pier with chip shops alongside it several times. So as soon as we exited the station, I demanded Steph to take me to some proper fish and chips.

Check out the haddock and chips. Salt and vinegar go perfectly with thick cut potatoes. You gotta drench it good! I’ve done an unscientific experiment that as long as you put vinegar on fried things, it immediately cancels out the grease and you won’t go into cardiac arrest.

So about our Christmas roast. Steph and I were staying at her friends Stacey and Dan’s in Hove from Christmas Eve through New Year’s. Even though I haven’t spent Christmas at home in a while, they’ve still been distressing nevertheless: there was the Christmas where father and daughter were yelling at each other on the streets of Hong Kong and ruined Christmas for mom, the Christmas in France where the Breton threw up dinner and ruined the meal that took ten hours to cook,  and the Christmas dinner in New York that was so expensive that left everyone with a bad taste in their mouths. So it certainly helps the spirit of Christmas cheer when you’re hanging out with friends who are okay about waking late and spending the rest of the day drinking, cooking and eating. It also helps to have the iPod going while you spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.

This house that I stayed at had a freaking huge stove top: six large burners and an oven that fit two ducks. And that was just on the top rack.

stock Stacey and Dan would take the ducks out every twenty minutes to baste. In the meantime, we were prepping vegetables for roasting (in duck fat). I didn’t really do a whole lot, though I was in charge of the duck giblet stock for gravy. Apparently English roasts are supposed to be drenched in gravy. I love making stock and I often refer to this article when it comes to technique. I’m also obsessive-compulsive when it comes to skimming the stock, but look how clear it turned out! And this is made out of the fattiest parts of the duck. As I’m looking at the photo I can see some scum on the sides but I’m certain I skimmed it off immediately after taking the photo, so no worries. The stock was really full-bodied, which was easy considering it is duck after all, but it was really lovely overall. But when it was gravy-making time I totally messed up the rue. I’ve never used animal fat so I over compensated with the flour, giving it a nasty pate flavor. Stacey saved Christmas by restarting the rue and thankfully we had enough stock to have a litre or so of gravy.

And after hours of leisurely of cooking, this took about twenty minutes to devour:


Next installment: the rest of the food I had during Christmas vacation…