Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A very merry birthday

My astronomical birthday yesterday was great fun! I call it astronomical this year because in addition to the solstice, the universe gave me a full moon and a lunar eclipse to celebrate. Unfortunately, the skies were overcast and rainy, so I didn't get to enjoy them until I watched the news.

I didn't take any pictures this year; these steaks are from last year's birthday dinner.

Ken and I spent the morning shopping. We had to get new tires on the car to pass the bi-annual inspection this year, so we took advantage of the wait time to hit the hardware store, the home decoration store, and the grocery store, all within a five-minute walk of the garage.

Lunch was the traditional steak au poivre. That's the meal I had on my birthday while in Nice, France, back in 1981. I've had the same meal on my birthday every year since then. When we made the dish back in the US, we'd often use a cut from the tenderloin, either filet, tournedos, or chateaubriand. Here in France the usual steak for the dish is rumsteak, a very lean and tender cut, which is what we got. I crushed a bunch of black peppercorns with the mortar and pestle and coated the steaks with it. They sat for about an hour like that.

Then we seared the steaks in a hot pan and set them on a platter to rest under foil. The pan was de-glazed with armagnac and the sauce made with a little beef bouillon and cream. And more armagnac. We served the steaks with French fries, as is our tradition. The steaks were perfectly done: crusty on the outside and very rare inside. Pure heaven on a plate!

By the way, Ken's photos of this year's meal are here.


  1. Walt, a very happy birthday!!

    Donna in SF

  2. Best wishes for yesterday. Rumsteak sounds like our rump steak, not the best cut.

  3. Congratulations are in order, many happy reruns.

  4. Stinko
    I am away from blogging for one day and I miss your birthday! :-(
    I hope your new year is the bestest one ever!

  5. Wow, the label on that wine is lovely :) It sounds like you had a very good birthday, and that's always wonderful :)

    I told my French students, "It's our Walt's birthday today!" They knew just who I was talking about :)


  6. I love it! Happy belated birthday.

  7. I'm not sure what rump steak is, and I don't know what cut French rumsteak would be. But I know it's good and tender. I think it's part of the sirloin -- maybe the rump of the sirloin. It's hard to compare the different cuts of meat, because the butchering conventions are so different from country to country and the names get all mixed up, borrowed from one language to another. Filet mignon, for example, in France is pork tenderloin.

  8. I missed the lunar eclipse (it was brilliant here, according to the pictures and videos) because I didn't even find out there would be one until the day after the event. Ducros makes a very good pepper noir named Le Steak, which I forgot to buy on our last trip.

  9. Walt, here's a view of the eclipse my brother took in Norfolk [England not Virginia]solstice lunar eclipse... keep on truckin'!

    Word verification is 'phogi'.... you aren't that old are you?

  10. Sorry Walt that link isn't workin.. try this <a href=">Lunar solstice eclipse</a>

    I must have made a typo in it somewhere. {the next four pix are of it too... until he got too cold and went home!!}

  11. Oh heck... just cut and paste!!!!

    The last word rec was 'lobubili' - obviously in recognition of your birthday... this one is 'procycl' which sounds like a medical anti ageing pill! [or a carbon frame racing bike?]

  12. That's an interesting custom to have the same meal every year on your birthday. I've never heard of it before. Hope it was a magical one!

  13. Hey, happy birthday to you, I'm not your friend, but have been watching your blog, your blog well written and continue to come on!

  14. Hi Walt,
    I'm more of Ken's follower, but I do drop in from time to time on your blog, too. Want to wish you belated happy birthday wishes and the hope that Paul and I get down to the Tourraine in the coming year to meet both of you in person.

  15. Thanks again for the wonderful wishes. Have a great New Year, everyone!

  16. Armacnac! My great favorite.

    Hope the meal and the birthday went down with happiness and much fun.


Pour your heart out! I'm listening.