Let me try and describe it...
You walked round a central buffet loaded with... continental meats and smoked salmon and pickled herrings and various cheeses, a mound of danish pastries, doughnuts and croissants, cereals, and toppings, four kinds of yogurt, ski and full cream milk, fresh fruit salad, fresh fruit not turned into a sald, prunes, apricots, slices of melon, several different smoothies and fruit juices, various bread for toasting, rows of different jams and marmalades and honeys and chocolate spreads and peanut butters, and final the hot section; sausages, frankfurters, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, hash browns, waffles and eggs cooked to order.
If there was nothing in that list that fitted your mood, you could order lamb cutlets, steak, eggs Benedict and heaven knows what else from a menu.
And tea, (which kind?) coffee, hot chocolate...
After the first morning we resolutely turned our backs on most of the offerings and settles for granola, toppings, milk, yogurt for me, coffee to drink.
Then there was Lunch...
The central buffet now had various hot dishes, soups, cheeses, cold meats and charcuterie, selection of breads, a dozen varieties of salad and additions and dressings, and a display of patisseries and fresh fruit to choose from. Wines, beers, ciders, and even water...
Finally there was Dinner
Always four courses with several options; hors d'oevres, soup, main course (fish, meat or vegetarian) and desert (fruit, cheese plate or choice of two sweet dishes). And wine, and coffee....
Should you feel a snack-attack approaching, the bar in the lounge also had a chilled display of savoury and sweet plates, with no limits on how many you could choose at any time. We were assured that all the pastries on board were 'zero calories' - but I think that was probably not true...
And then, of course, beside the self-serve coffee machine and tea machine was a stand piled high with little biscuits...
I rapidly came to the conclusion that the only way to survive the week without exploding out of my clothes was to Take Precautionary Measures;
- Never, never approach the all-day snack-attach cabinet
- Stay away from the biscuit stand, even when it was loaded with palmiers
- Always hand half my desert over to himself
- Eat the fillings from tarts and pies and leave the pastry
- If I didn't totally LOVE the food on my plate, don't finish it
Amazingly, I arrived back home only 1kg heavier than when I started, and still able to do up my trousers.
However, all the soups and salads have inspired me to start doing a bit of cooking again. We went shopping yesterday. He had a list, and followed it, while I added even more fresh vegetables, and orzo pasta, and gourmet stock cubes. I have to admit that it took him a while to stow it all in the fridge.
Yesterday I made an onion soup with cheese on toast at lunchtime (based on reading the recipe for 'Potage Les Halles'.
Finely slice an onion, crush a clove of garlic, and sweat them together in a generous amount of butter with a dash of oil and a small teaspoon of sugar. When all soft and brown and caramelised, add stock - it should be beef but I only had vegetable - check the seasoning and simmer for an hour, or as long as you have. Check seasoning again before serving.
Meanwhile toast some bread on both sides, top one side with cheese - I used some Gouda - and grill until melted and bubbling.
Serve soup with sliced up cheese on toast.
In the evening I cooked runner beans and also made my favourite tomato salad to go with the chicken
Runner beans - top and tail, slice lengthways, zap in microwave with a little water for 5 mins. Season, toss in butter,
Tomato Salad - I used tomatoes from the garden, as ripe as ever they should be. I wouldn't normally skin them, but ours have slightly tough skins so I put them in a bowl, poured boiling water over them, and a minute later was able to skin them without any bother. I sliced them horizontally (parallel to their equators) and sprinkled them with salt, black pepper and fresh basil leaves. I leaned this recipe over forty years ago from a friend in York.
Today, for lunch we had soup again; a medium potato and half a leek chopped and softened in butter, and then stock and skinned tomatoes added. When cooked through, I liquidised it, added a handful each of fresh peas, sliced beans and chopped tender stem broccoli. I reckoned it needed a little 'je ne sais quois' so added a dash of dry cider as well as seasoning.
I also served a slice of toast which has been rubbed over with the cut edge of a piece of garlic.
Delish - now for tomorrow!
So far I have