My Book Club has been on a “good-read-roll” lately, and it didn’t stop with our last book either. The book we read was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and it was my turn to host our book club.
I have been to France a couple of times, and when I read The Nightingale I could totally visualize the French buildings and countryside as the author described them. Even though this book was not a happy one, I got so inspired by the French lifestyle after reading it, I was almost giddy to put together a French-themed tablescape and lunch for Book Club.
A brief book review of the book follows my tablescape and lunch photos.
My entry foyer chest – I had to include my sweet birds since the book is titled The Nightingale
When I think of France/French décor, I think of the colors of blue and yellow, French lavender, and roosters. I decided these things would be the starting point for my tablescape.
I started with blue plates and glassware with yellow napkins…
I originally planned on using French lavender for my centerpiece, but then decided I liked the combination of the yellow daisies and purple irises much better. Not only did the flowers add a pop of color to the table, but I really liked the look of the bright yellow flowers against the blue of the plates.
Added a rooster, some blue books, and my yellow birds (once again in honor of The Nightingale) to the centerpiece…
Since there were only six of us, I was excited I could use my blue Spode (Zoological) plates. I only have six of them and ordinarily just use the plates for display purposes.
What to make for my French-themed lunch??
My starting point for the lunch was to go to the library and check out some “beginner type” French cookbooks. I decided this was not the best time for me to attempt a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (by Julia Child) – maybe sometime in the future?? (wishful thinking…)
At least one of the gals does not like any seafood so that narrowed down my choices of recipes. Since it was a lunch I wanted to keep the meal simple and select recipes that I could make ahead of time and wouldn’t be tied to a stove after the girls arrived.
After browsing through the cookbooks, I decided on making Salade Lyonnaise and Roast Chicken for the entrée with a Clafoutis as dessert. I was a little concerned since I’ve never really cooked French food before but figured “what the heck” – we all have to start somewhere, right?
Oh, and did I mention the wine?
A glass of French wine to enjoy with our meal was a must…
Of course, cheese is a major part of French cuisine… Lincet Delce de Bourgogne (Burgundy) cheese on the left above – a French classic triple crème cheese and Chaumes – a French cow’s milk cheese on the right
In France, cheese is traditionally served after the main course before dessert. I chose to put the cheese (& French olives) out early so we could snack on them before we sat down to eat and to enjoy throughout our meal too.
Fresh bread is undeniable in France – I got a brioche. It was so good and so sweet – it was like eating a dessert…
The Salade Lyonnaise: Frisée greens tossed in a vinaigrette with poached egg and crisp bacon
I never cooked poached eggs before, so I was worried how they would turn out, plus I had to make them ahead of time…
As you can see, I overcooked the (poached) eggs…Darn!
Cherry Clafoutis (pronounced like kla-foo-tee)
Traditionally, this French dessert calls for the pits to be left in a clafoutis (supposedly they add additional flavor) and spit the pits out as you eat. I chose to bake it in the “non-traditional” way.
Ideally this dessert should be served warm right out of the oven. I had baked it the night before and then reheated it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it turned out as well as it should have. I served it with a side of vanilla ice cream.
This historical fiction book is about two sisters in France during World War II. They are both brave and serve important roles during the war but in very different ways.
The book actually got somewhat mixed reviews from my group. Two of us, one being me, loved the book! The others felt it was okay. A couple of the gals felt it needed to be “edited down” (the author was too wordy at times). I, in contrast, strongly dislike “wordy authors” and felt Ms. Hannah was not wordy at all in her text and instead achieved a great balance between detail, depth, and description.
A couple of them also felt there was too much violence in the book for their tastes. Based on this comment, we did discuss the fact that sadly violence is very much a part of wars. They did admit though that their feelings about there being too much violence in the book could have been because we have been reading quite a few books lately that took place during World War II and they were just tired/depressed by all the tragedy the war brought with it.
All in all we did have a good discussion about the book (and World War II again). I would recommend the book!