Myriam Conrié-Thibault’s 13 desserts of Christmas

What an event! Myriam Conrié-Thibault hosted a splendid Provence Degustation of 13 Desserts of Christmas this weekend at Tastevin Bistro and Bar. And I was delighted to be invited to join the celebration.

Turn back the clock two years, and I’d only just discovered this tradition of 13 desserts for Christmas. That Christmas I was in Paris. My tree was decorated in the traditional French red and gold. My Christmas Day without a stove. At that time I didn’t realise that the tradition of 13 desserts came from further south, and knew less about it. I had only just read how the 13 desserts symbolise Jesus and the 12 disciples. My purchases from Fauchon and Hediard included my favourite ‘calissons‘. Myriam’s banquet also included almond ‘calissons’ and more.

Her delicious event included many charming stories beautifully told … and even more …

Provence Degustation Menu

Pastis Aperitif

Mixed Provençal antipasto with olives and homemade bread with rosemary and caramelised onions

Glass of ‘Easy Rosé’ from St Tropez

Traditional ‘Bouillabaisse’ with sauce rouille and croutons

13 Desserts of Christmas

Brioche with sultanas
Chocolate mendiants
Lavender panna cotta
Orange sorbet
Chocolate nougat
Grapefruit marmelade
Almond ‘calissons’
Dark chocolate with cinnamon & orange peel
Dark chocolate ganache infused with violet flowers
Blood orange milke chocolate with rosemary & tarragon
Fresh melon
Fresh watermelon

Hennessy XO Cognac

Myriam delighted us with stories. Of Bouillabaise we learnt how the word describes the cooking process – returning the stock to the boil before the addition of each separate fish. How the brioche represents breaking bread. And the spices and dates of the Middle East represent the wise men.

Our knowledge was tested too, with a game of trivia – 5 questions – about Provence. 13 of us got the answers right. At the table next to me, Paul won the prize from a lucky draw. I got the answers – but not the prize.

But we also learnt about new providores in Sydney of the artisan chocolate makers who delighted our palates at the lunch. We were introduced to Boon and Kakawa.

I really loved ALL of the chocolates! But then again you would expect they’d be fantastic – as Myriam takes chocolate tours around Sydney. There was a shining star atop the Christmas tree was for me the (light as heaven) Lavender panna cotta and (the freshly churned) Orange sorbet from the kitchen of Tastevin. Just superb.

Lots of faces I know were in the room. Good to see Not Quite Nigella, Tony Hollingsworth, Helen Crozier and to sit with the charming Karen and Champagne Jayne. So it wasn’t just an entertaining and delicious afternoon – but I was also in good company!

Myriam’s husband Jean Conrié estolled the history of Hennessy. We drank Hennessy XO. (I should have said we revelled in sipping Hennessy XO). Warm, round, comforting, smooth, tobacco, wood, and vanilla. Sooo smooth! Jean told a story too. A couple in fact. Of the history of the cognac, originally created in 1870. At the time before World War 1, Australia was (I think?) the second largest export market in the world. Hennessy’s not a French name. It was started by an Irishman. (hint to family inserted here for Christmas presents).

Thanks Myriam for a lovely day. It was a long slow leisurely lazy lunch and thoroughly enjoyed. You’ll notice I’ve put 13 photos in this post to go with the 13 desserts.

Now the news you’ll want to know is this was not a one off event. Myriam will be back in February with a Basque Lunch by Mytinerary. I’ve already saved the date! (the 5th!)

Tastevin Bar & Bistro
292 Victoria St
Darlinghurst NSW 2010 Australia
+61 (0) 2 9356 3429

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Comments for this article

10 Responses to “Myriam Conrié-Thibault’s 13 desserts of Christmas”

  1. Myriam @ Detours says:
    December 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Fabulous story Rebecca – thank you so much for being with us for this special Provence event!

    I’m glad you enjoyed the 13 desserts of Xmas and the stories behind this tradition. That lavender panna cotta was quite special indeed, my favourite too…

    Coming from you, a most francophile gourmet and food connoisseur, your post is a fantastic compliment ;-)

    See you at the Basque event, my dear!
    Myriam xx

  2. Robin Dickinson says:
    December 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    What a beautiful post. I was at this event and had a marvelous time. Thank you for sharing it in such a lovely way.

    Robin :)

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      December 13, 2010 at 6:50 am

      what a pity we didn’t have a chat – maybe next time? glad you found my article though :)

  3. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:
    December 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Great post Becca and what a wonderful lunch it was! It was so lovely to see you again before Christmas! :D x

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      December 13, 2010 at 6:50 am

      Yes after tomorrow night I think that’s about me for this year – I’d like to hole in for a while – have a Merry Christmas Lorraine x :)

  4. Tony Hollingsworth says:
    December 13, 2010 at 5:22 am

    I keep looking over this post and photos (love the silhouette of me talking to the sommelier) Rebecca, you’ve captured the day perfectly – a memory I will treasure forever. So glad to know you all.

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      December 13, 2010 at 6:52 am

      THANKS Tony – I’ve got another silhouette of you too – should email you the photos – both captured (I think) how interested and engaged you are when speaking with someone. We’re so very lucky to have so many great food friends!

  5. Helen Crozier says:
    December 15, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Ahh Rebecca thank you thank you…..this is divine.
    The photos and the write up…. bringing it all back… I’m so glad to have been there – it was a truly decadent French afternoon.

    You’ve just made me soooo hungry though…

    best wishes

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