Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Trees, Oxen, and Croque Monsieur a la It's Complicated

Apparently last year I didn't mention anything about our outing to cut down a Christmas tree. Normally I post such events on the blog as to use them for future reference. This year we got a recommendation for a good place to go cut down a Christmas tree. When we got there we discovered it was the exact same place we went to last year. This ended up being fine since it happened to be a great place.

The place was Maple Row Tree Farm in Easton, Connecticut. We managed to get a type of tree we'd never gotten before but I can't really remember the name of what type it is. The rustic outdoorsman at the entrance rattled off some of the types of trees they carry but he could have been making them all up as he went along: Douglas Pine, Colorado Blue, Norwegian White.

Come to think of it he may have been listing the names of Harry Potter dragons.

Just like last year they had Fred & Bill the oxen available for children to look at and torment. Jen decided to get in on the action and pose with Fred.

Fred didn't take kindly to this and made a loud noise which scared Jen in this moment which is the finest I've ever captured on film. Or SD Card.

Earlier this week I had concocted a plan. After my investigative report on the Maille mustard and It's Complicated movie tie in I had the idea to make Croque Monsieur and watch the movie It's Complicated. To assist us in this we invited our good friends Paul and Caolan over to share in the madness.

This is likely the stupidest idea I've ever had in my life.

The main problem with the idea is that none of us really wanted to watch It's Complicated. Particularly with the Christmas season upon us. However, I'm all about follow through. If you put a stupid plan into motion you have to see it through to the bitter end.

The first major flaw in the plan was that I wanted to follow the recipe from the Maille recipe booklet verbatim. The problem with that is that I think whoever wrote the recipe had never actually had a Croque Monsieur before. Instead what this recipe calls to make is more like a Croque Madame/Tomato Mozzarella hybrid. That being said, I was intent on following it to the letter.

The second major flaw was that we had some varied diets in the group. Jen has a strong dislike for eggs of most varieties, Caolan is a vegetarian, and Paul only likes complex carbohydrates. Therefore I would be the only one who was having the authentic It's Complicated version. It was indeed very complicated getting all these sandwiches made in their various permutations.

After getting them all made we sat down to watch the movie. After getting about halfway through all our sandwiches Caolan made the observation that it did not taste like there was mustard on her sandwich. This was true because in all of this fuss I had completely forgotten to put the essential ingredient on the sandwich. I blame Maille's marketing department for this one. So it was that we got out the Maille and applied it to the second half of all our sandwiches.

Much to our delight this is exactly what happened in the movie! Meryl Streep is bragging about how she learned how to make Croque Monsieur in Paris yet halfway through she goes and gets the Maille and puts it on the counter (with the label carefully facing the camera). Steve Martin actually takes out a knife and applies it to the top of his sandwich.

Her Croque Monsieurs looks much more true to tradition so apparently she was not following the strange egg-in-the-basket method.

I'm convinced that some greater power is up there watching over us and makes sure that all of our sandwiches turn out okay. Some sort of sandwich deity.

For beer I chose a nontraditional match to Croque Monsieur by having this Winter Ale from Weyerbacher. This is fine considering that this was a very nontraditional Croque Monsieur to begin with.

This beer was quite tasty. This brewery also made a great pumpkin ale in the fall that sold out immediately so I snatched this one up as quickly as I could. It was as dark as winter beers tend to be but not as overpoweringly bitter or spicy as I find most of them. It was great to have one that is not infused with all manner of nutmeg and allspice.

For dessert Jen made this apple pandowdy which was fantastic with a little vanilla ice cream on top.

To further cleanse our palates we watched Christmas in Connecticut. This is our second year in a row with this movie on our Christmas movie list and it's a great addition. Particularly since we live so close to Connecticut now that we can be considered honorary Connecticutians. Connecticutites?


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