22 December 2011

Steak au poivre for a birthday

Somehow I've managed to catch a very bad cold. That's un gros rhume in French. Je tousse (I'm coughing), j'ai le nez qui coule (my nose is running), et j'ai mal à la gorge (I have a sore throat). I have no energy and I'm sleeping 15 hours a day. Except for the miserable cold symptoms, maybe that's a good way to get through the winter.

It was a huge steak (565 grams) and we have leftovers for today.

Yesterday was Walt's birthday and we made our “traditional” birthday dinner of steak au poivre (pan-seared steak served rare in a black pepper & cream sauce) with pommes de terre frites and salade verte. It's a dinner Walt had in a restaurant in Antibes, near Nice on the Côte d'Azur (the "French Riviera"), when he turned twenty-something in 1981.

The sauce is also good with the French fried potatoes.

We spent his birthday together in 1982 and I cooked steak au poivre for him — he didn't really think I knew how to make it, but it was a dish I had learned to cook during my time in Paris in the 1970s and early '80s. Unless my arithmetic is off, this is the 30th year in a row that we've enjoyed the birthday steak au poivre together — and the ninth time in France.

Don't forget the French bread (delivered by the village baker)...

The dinner yesterday was excellent, featuring a big, thick slice of what is called rumsteak in France. I think that's a transliteration of the term "rump steak" but I'm not sure it's the same cut of beef. Whatever it is, it's very lean and pretty tender. The sauce made with crushed black peppercorns, cognac (or the Normandy apple brandy called calvados this time) and crème fraîche goes really well with it, compensating for the meat's lack of fat.

...or the red wine, a 2010 Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil
from the Loire Valley.

Maybe this cold will go away before Christmas Day, but I'm not counting on it.


  1. ...and a happy birthday to Walt.

    I hope the rhume passes quickly

  2. Ken be very careful with that cold. The lurgy that is going around turns into bronchitis that lasts for weeks.

  3. Bon retablissement! I hope your cold will be over by Christmas, so that you can fully appreciate that lovely guinea fowl you've ordered. Martine
    P.S. Maybe you should try a drop of Elexir d'Anvers :) It's supposed to be good for you ...

  4. Keep warm Ken, take a hot lemon and brandy every hour, linger over the vapour until it is a drinkable temperature... cuddle the fire and sweat. {Pauline calls what you've got Man-Flu!!]
    Get well before Christmas Day!

    I would suggest my standard 'kill or cure' which is double advocaat and Woods 100 dark rum, two asprin and straight to bed with two hot waterbottles... but the first bit isn't to everyones taste....

    WV is "ovelly" so 'ave a 'ovely Christmas.
    Seriously though...
    Hope you do get well enough to enjoy Christmas!

  5. Thanks, Mike.

    Susan, is "lurgy" pronounced with a soft G (as in "clergy" or "allergy" or a hard G (as in "stringy")? In the U.S., we might call such an affliction "the crud." In French, c'est la crève. I'll try to be careful.

    Martine, what a good idea. Is Elixir d'Anvers the same thing as St Eloy Citroenjenever?

    Thanks Tim, all good pieces of advice. Make having the crud sound like fun!

  6. That steak so reminds me of the "formal dinner parties"of the 70s. I'm going to try it again tomorrow with dinner for friends. For your cold, may I recommend a herbal tablet which I can get here in Australia: Vitamin C, Horseradish and Garlic...it works so well and very quickly to alleviate the symptoms. Here we can even buy it in supermarkets. I agree with Martine, you need to be able to taste the guinea fowl!

  7. Sorry about your cold. Maybe it's too late for Actifed Nuit et Jour or Dolirhume, but they do help. Tim's grog sounds pretty good, too.

  8. Oh, heavens, sorry to hear about the cold. Yuck. But, gorgeous steak au poivre! What a great tradition :))


  9. Take care, Ken. The dinner and the wine look perfect. I'm glad you and Walt have shared so many birthdays together.

  10. 30 years of birthdays together! Happy birthday to Walt, and may you have many more steak au poivre celebrations together.

  11. I feel for you. Luckily I've managed to escape so far, not having been much in company recently. Pampering, that's the only way: best of luck with it and all good wishes for the season, anyway.

    It's a hard G, by the way, and it's quite often The Dreaded Lurgy, for those of us brought up with The Goon Show in the 1950s.

  12. Thanks, Patrick. I'm glad to know how to pronounce lurgy. I thought I was better when I got up this morning, but this afternoon I realize I still have a long way to go.

  13. Belated happy birthday wishes to Walt, and congratulations to both of you on having a life partner with whom to share the joyous times (as well as the sick days). Take care and feel better soon!

  14. Aw, so sorry about the cold. You've got a few days before Christmas Day. I hope you'll be feeling a lot better by then.

  15. That comment from WCS (Walt) above was really from me, Ken. I was using his computer and didn't realize how the comment would show up.

    Thanks Mitch, hope you and J. are well.

    Thanks, everybody...

  16. How are wine prices in the Loire area?

  17. I think I would have asked for steak pauvre on the 18th if that had been on the menu! My daughter and her friend took me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. Yours looks fabulous. Belated wishes to Walt.
    Take everyone's advice and pretty soon you will be back, Ken!

    Mary in Oregon.

  18. Eh, eh, est-ce le calva que je vous ai amené cet été ?

  19. By the way, un GROG au calva, may be efficient against "la crève"/the crud !!! And thanks for teaching me this new term which I didn't know :-)


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