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eGfoodblog: Dave Hatfield

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#1 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 12:15 AM

I was delighted to be asked to do this blog. It’s exciting, sort of like getting a new job or something. At my age I like some new excitement. Obviously, it’s my first blog so bear with me as I stumble through it.

So you have some background; I am an American, retired, and living in rural France with my wife Linda, who is British, and our dog, Rupert, who is a 2 1/2 year old standard poodle. We’ve been here full time for nearly 5 years now and absolutely love it in France.

I’ll answer the question that I expect will get asked right up front; namely: “How did a native Californian end up living in rural South West France?” As you might expect the answer ain’t that simple. Firstly, I lived and worked in Europe for over 20 years; Spain, Belgium, France, Germany & mostly England. During all of that time my work responsibilities covered all of Europe so I traveled widely. Thus, Europe is very much a second home. When Linda finally persuaded me to retire we were living in Rhode Island and planning upon retiring to our home in Carmel Valley, California. But then as the reality hit we realized that all of the family (kids from previous marriages for both of us & Linda’s extended family.) lived in the UK. Why were we going to locate 6,000 miles away? Stupid! So we sold the house & thought this retirement out. Closer to family & kids, Yes. Good weather, Yes! Good food & wine, Yes! South West France which we had visited many times qualified. Weather, good communications, food! Cheap (at the time) property was an added bonus. So, here we are. The kids & grandkids & family & friends from all over visit frequently. Between our French & expat friends we have an active social life; so life is very very good.

And, of course, we’re in one of the great food & wine regions of the world. So, now that I have the time I can indulge my passion for cooking; thus my interest in eGullet and thus this blog.

My focus will be upon food & cooking. The meals will be things we eat fairly regularly. In a couple of instances I am going to try to give you recipes that I’m going to do the next day. Using the time zone difference to our advantage you can, if you are so inclined, cook the same dish (s). As a result I’ve tried to pick things to cook that have ingredients that are readily available in the states. I’ve not always succeeded, but I’ve used nothing so French that you just can’t get it any where else.

Because the 4th of July holiday falls in the middle of my blog I’m going to cover that in a special way by describing a local yearly event. Think you’ll enjoy it. Also, we will be going to one of my favorite restaurants. Michelin starred & one of the top 5 female chef’s in France. Since I was asked, I’m going to do a little rant about drinking & buying wine in France.

I’ve been asked to comment upon wine, cheese and cooked meats (sausages) so I’ll do that in essay form to get a topic started and to impart some general information. After that its open to anybody to contribute, ask questions or whatever.

We’ll also do a bit of touring around our local countryside & I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about France. I understand that on blogs there is a certain amount of ‘off topic’ latitude so here’s your chance.

I only hope that you, my audience, enjoy this blog as much as I’m going to enjoy doing it.

Bon appète! (No cringing, friends on the French forum!)

#2 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 12:40 AM

Posted Image
The other picture of this object wasn't really supposed to be part of the teaser pics. No matter. The idea is to identify the use of this object.
As a hint I will say that it has two uses that I know of. One that was intended and another that is original. This is a food blog so think along those lines. If nobody guesses the answer will be posted at the end of the week.

The village picture as a teaser is of our village, Parisot. Its important to know that this is Parisot, Tarn et Garonne since there is another Parisot in the Tarn department.
Our house can be partially seen at the far left of the picture.

Today being Monday we'll be giving lunch to Jacques, our good friend and Jacques of all trades who is nearly finished building a new bathroom for us, so I'll be off to the market at Caussade shortly. I'll post pictures later.

Think we'll have a simple meal of Toulouse sausage & salad followed by some cheese. Or, maybe, I'll see something else at market which temps me.

Posted Image
Here's a market picture to whet your appetite. This isn't Caussade market, but is Limogne's Sunday market.

A bientot!

Edited by Dave Hatfield, 02 July 2007 - 06:58 AM.


#3 Pan

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 02:47 AM

Ah, the cheese man himself! I'm sure this will be a lot of fun! Enjoy the experience, Dave. I'll be here watching and rooting for you.

#4 Catriona

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 05:07 AM

Oh, I can't wait!

#5 Shaya

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 05:14 AM

Dave just reading your intro has made me homesick for France! I look forward to this week with you.

#6 hathor

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:00 AM

Everybody else's markets all look so organized.... :hmmm: All those colors in that photo! Just gorgeous.
Can't wait to hear all about your sausages!
Regards from another 'yank' living in Europe!

#7 Fat Guy

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:16 AM

The idea is to identify the use of this object.

View Post

That's easy. It's used to control the cursor on a computer. I'm not sure you should talk about the unintended use, though. This is a family website.

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#8 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:46 AM

Posted Image

Posted Image

I'm afraid the two pictures don't do Caussade market justice. My fault as my camera was very low on battery power so I was lucky to get any shots at all. In addition it was overcast this morning so the light wasn't good. Ah well. The market was as crowded as usual. The pictures show only a small part of the whole as the food part of the market winds all along the old streets. In addition there is a large non-food market on the square.

Despite my goof on the pictures the visit was a success. I bought beautiful tomatoes, lettuce, two kinds of peppers, zucchini (courgettes) and bread for lunch. The highlights, however, were two unexpected items.
The first was a bottle of rosé wine. This from Sarah who is a local wine maker. She claims that it is her best ever rosé! Even though I don't personally like rosé my wife does and she has always claimed that Sarah's was good in the past. So now I've got a little present for Linda. Only 5 Euros. We'll try it this evening & let you know how it turns out.
The unusual find much to my delight was a stand with some old country boys selling cepes! I've never seen cepes in July; normally they don't appear until after the first rains in September. (global warming I guess. We've had an unusual combination of thunderstorms & heat lately) But there they were in all their glory, not huge ones but of a nice size. I bought a livre of them for 8 euros.

So, off to home & lunch. We were going to have homemade pate as a starter, but I decided that with the cepes we didn't need a starter.
So, I boiled the Toulouse sausage to get it cooked through & then put it on the BBQ.

Posted Image

The cepes were cleaned and roughly cut then put into a hot frying pan with a bit of olive oil & chopped garlic. They were cooked until just soft, but had not given up their juices.

Posted Image

What a treat! Jacques & I were in heaven.

The sausage, the cepes and a simple salad along with some good bread made up our meal.

Posted Image
A glass of wine, of course. Followed by some cheese.

[IPosted Image



A simple meal, but good. The cepes were a real treat this time of year.

Later I'll post an ingredient list for tomorrow's dinner. It will be just Linda & I so fairly simple. I'll be busy during the day getting ready for 4th of July & cooking for that.

Breakfast will be good though.

Edited by Dave Hatfield, 02 July 2007 - 07:07 AM.


#9 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:50 AM

The idea is to identify the use of this object.

View Post

That's easy. It's used to control the cursor on a computer. I'm not sure you should talk about the unintended use, though. This is a family website.

View Post


Good try, but no no prize.

All I can say is that some people have evil minds.

#10 gariotin

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:00 AM

Hi, Dave,
Looking forward to reading your blog and learning more about your part of France.
The lunch looks delicious - what a beautiful coil of sausage. And of course, the cheese!
Yum!

#11 Kouign Aman

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:15 AM

2 mammals : a mouse and some kinda seal.
That cheese looks good too. How big are the pieces? (or in another way - is that a standard sized dinner plate the cheese is resting on?)
Thanks for blogging!
"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

#12 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:44 AM

2 mammals : a mouse and some kinda seal.
That cheese looks good too. How big are the pieces? (or in another way - is that a standard sized dinner plate the cheese is resting on?)
Thanks for blogging!

View Post


Very good, but you don't win any prizes either. Keep trying.

Yes, that was a standard sized dinner plate the cheese was on. The cheeses were: Camembert, Laguiole, Chèvre (cabeques) and Roquefort.

#13 MarketStEl

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 09:20 AM

Posted Image
A glass of wine, of course. Followed by some cheese.

Posted Image

View Post


Quelle fromage!

I'm looking forward to seeing more in this vein (blue or otherwise) as the blog progresses.

Not to mention seeing if I can ape a recipe or two.
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#14 eje

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 09:31 AM

Looks like a perfect lunch to me!

Glad to see you doing a FoodBlog, Dave!

Looking forward to the coming week!
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#15 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 12:48 PM

We tasted Sarah's wine tonight & it was good - for a rose that is. Linda liked it a lot and even I who normally do not care for rose found it drinkable.

Tomorrow we'll have a look at breakfast first then do some dinner cooking later.

Here is the shopping list for anyone who wants to follow along with the dinner recipes:

1) Anaheim peppers
2) Brie cheese
3) Duck breasts ( last time I was in the states WholeFoods was selling them)
4) Walnuts
5) garlic
6) Zucchini
7) green beans
8) olive oil
9) walnut oil
10) fresh thyme
11) Apricots (for a tart)
12) flour
13) butter
14) sugar
15) ground walnuts

Be ready to crank up your Barbecue. The menu is:

BBQ roasted peppers with Brie

BBQ'd Duck breast with thyme & Ailiade
BBQ'd Zucchini
Sauted Green beans

Country Apricot tart.

Being me I'll probably slip in some cheese, but maybe not.

The recipes will be posted as early in the afternoon as I can manage.

Also tomorrow I'll take a little trip to Najac. This is a nearby village that is simply stunning.

#16 Abra

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 01:13 PM

I'm so looking forward to this, especially as I'm hoping to see it all for myself in the near future. I'll guess that the weird item is part of some sort of vise-type thing, or maybe a lid remover?

#17 Smithy

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 02:29 PM

Look at the colors in the Limogne market photo! Are those dyes or spices in the foreground?

Please paint a verbal photo of the market ambience, if you can. How do people interact? Are they leisurely or hurried? Is there a lot of banter? Noise? Haggling? Fun? Music? You get the idea. Help us hear and feel what you're showing us.

The clamp looks like it's intended to seat a nozzle on a sausage grinder, or a hose on some sort of extruder. That looks like a huge diameter, though: big enough to seat a fire hose on a rain gutter, and I'm betting that isn't the unintended use.

The food already looks gorgeous.

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#18 little ms foodie

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 02:35 PM

I love french country cooking!!! this will be quite a treat. Did the sausage come from one of your market venders?

I think that clamp thing hold the bone end of a leg of lamb for carving purposes............

#19 SuzySushi

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 04:35 PM

So, off to home & lunch. We were going to have homemade pate as a starter, but I decided that with the cepes we didn't need a starter.
So, I boiled the Toulouse sausage to get it cooked through & then put it on the BBQ.

Posted Image

The cepes were cleaned and roughly cut then put into a hot frying pan with a bit of olive oil & chopped garlic. They were cooked until just soft, but had not given up their juices.

Posted Image

What a treat! Jacques & I were in heaven.

The sausage, the cepes and a simple salad along with some good bread made up our meal.

Posted Image
A glass of wine, of course. Followed by some cheese.

[IPosted Image

View Post

Boo hoo hoo! The photos are making me cry!!! Oh, for that glorious meal!!!
SuzySushi

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#20 rgruby

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:36 PM

Dave,

Looking forward to this!

Could you tell us a bit about what ingredients you recall seeing in the States but that you don't see there - at least not commonly? And vice- versa.

What is the availability of ingredients from other regions of France. Or Italy or Spain for that matter? Just trying to get a bit of a sense how "regional" rural, regional France (or at least where you are) is. And, in the short time you've been there, have you seen any real changes in this.

Thanks again,

Geoff Ruby

PS - Some day I'm going to resurrect your kitchen reno thread. I swear. I thought moving to a Mac was gonna make posting pictures here possible - but I haven't figured it out yet. Some day.

#21 bavila

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 09:05 PM

Are cepes synonymous with porcinis?
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#22 Fat Guy

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 09:09 PM

Yes. They're the French and Italian terms for Boletus edulis.

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#23 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 11:15 PM

Just a quick post to say that nobody has guessed the use intended or otherwise of the mystery item as of yet.

I will say that somebody came fairly close to getting the intended use right.

Remember what I said at the beginning. This is a culinary blog!

I'll try to answer some of your questions later today, but off to get ready for breakfast now.

Every Tuesday a group of my old fogy friends & I have breakfast and solve the problems of the world. I'm host this week.

#24 maher

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 11:28 PM

Just a quick post to say that nobody has guessed the use intended or otherwise of the mystery  item as of yet.

I will say that somebody came fairly close to getting the intended use right.

Remember what I said at the beginning. This is a culinary blog!

I'll try to answer some of your questions later today, but off to get ready for breakfast now.

Every Tuesday a group of my old fogy friends & I have breakfast and solve the problems of the world. I'm host this week.

View Post



intended use: drainpipe holder

unintended use hanger for sausages? sorry im one track minded on this. if anyone saw my post in the kitchen consumer forum im trying to create the right chamber for drying sausages... ill be seeing them in my sleep next.

#25 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 02:15 AM

I'm so looking forward to this, especially as I'm hoping to see it all for myself in the near future.  I'll guess that the weird item is part of some sort of vise-type thing, or maybe a lid remover?

View Post


Another good try, but no prize.

As to your question on the French forum my only caution would be that you check out the mistral in Uzes. Could be an issue.

#26 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 03:13 AM

Look at the colors in the Limogne market photo!  Are those dyes or spices in the foreground? 

Please paint a verbal photo of the market ambience, if you can.  How do people interact?  Are they leisurely or hurried?  Is there a lot of banter?  Noise?  Haggling?  Fun?  Music?  You get the idea.  Help us hear and feel what you're showing us.

The clamp looks like it's intended to seat a nozzle on a sausage grinder, or a hose on some sort of extruder.  That looks like a huge diameter, though: big enough to seat a fire hose on a rain gutter, and I'm betting that isn't the unintended use.

The food already looks gorgeous.

View Post


I'll try to describe the market ambiance as best I can.

The Limogne picture is of the herb & spice stall which is run by a very pretty young girl. You name it, she has it.
The atmosphere at a market is superficially very busy. When you first start going to them they can be almost overwhelming with the noise & bustle and the uncertainty of what to do, what to buy and how to do it. Sometimes there are street musicians, hawkers of various items who are noisy and just a lot of hubbub in general.
As you begin to get used to market and learn the ropes you begin to realize that they are as much a social gathering as a marketplace. The locals meet & greet each other, catch up on the latest local events & gossip and have a good chat in general. A cup of coffee or a glass of whatever in the cafe is pretty standard. People watching is the universal sport. One quickly learns to spot the tourists, French or otherwise, and feel slightly superior once you are a 'local'!
Shopping gets done carefully, the French are very quality conscious when it comes to food. Generally, people have favorite stalls for each type of food they buy, but for items just coming into season they may check out every stall in the market to see who has the best quality at the best price. For food items there is generally no haggling except maybe near the close of the market when left overs may be sold off cheaply.
People tend to get confused as to whether they should pick out their own produce or let the stall holder do it. The answer is that both are correct and that pointing works quite well. If I don't know the stall I tend to try to pick out my own things. If I do know it I'll let them pick knowing that they know I'm a regular customer so they won't try to pass off anything not quite right onto me.
There is a lot of relaxed banter and jokes galore (if you can understand them) Once you get known by the stall holders there is always a bit of conversation, no matter how busy they may be, before you buy. When buying from your regular stall holders it would be impolite to just come up & say what you want. At least a preliminary "savant?" is de rigeur. And a bit of general chat is appreciated. Then you place your order.
We have an advantage in the Rupert, my avatar & our standard poodle, is a great ice breaker. He very sociable and everyone loves him. Although poodles are supposedly French & you see lots of small ones, the big standards (Roop weighs about 80 pounds) are rare in France so lots of people come up to ask what kind of dog he is. (Quelle race est-il? Il est un caniche royal.)
The markets are truly wonderful. We go at least twice a week for the atmosphere and the quality of the fresh produce. We could go every day as we are surrounded by market towns. Anybody visiting France should go to as many as possible.

You were close on the intended use of the mystery object, but not quite there.

#27 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 03:17 AM

I love french country cooking!!! this will be quite a treat. Did the sausage come from one of your market venders?

I think that clamp thing hold the bone end of a leg of lamb for carving purposes............

View Post


The sausage came from a good butcher in Caylus. Local pork is very good and the proper sausage is very lean. There are not many herbs or spices in it, mainly just salt & pepper. When I fry it in a pan I have to add a bit of duck fat to get the skin to brown properly.

Another good guess, still no prize.

#28 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 03:46 AM

could you tell us a bit about what ingredients you recall seeing in the States but that you don't see there - at least not commonly? And vice- versa.

What is the availability of ingredients from other regions of France. Or Italy or Spain for that matter? Just trying to get a bit of a sense how "regional" rural, regional France (or at least where you are) is. And, in the short time you've been there, have you seen any real changes in this.

View Post


Tough question. There are, of course, lots of brands you don't get over here.
The big difference seems to be in ethnic foods. The normal supermarket here tends to have a very small, if any, range of Chinese, Asian, Mexican, German foods. To get them you need to go to the specialty stores in the larger towns. In our case Montauban or Toulouse where you can get most things once you know where to look.

You do get a good range of regional French foods, but not the really local items except for cheeses and wines. Although you don't find a lot of Italian or Spanish items specifically you can get almost all of the ingredients easily. Pasta from Italy for instance is widely stocked as is ham from Spain.
Its hard to find any cheese that isn't French. (We had a big discussion about getting cheddar in France a while ago on the France forum.)
Equally, you don't see a lot of "foreign" wine on the shelves either, but that's hardly surprising.
Our area is very rural and very localized. Most locals don't travel far. They like where they are & don't see a reason to go elsewhere. Yet, they are very curious and knowledgeable about the rest of the world. Also, they are very welcoming to strangers at least on a superficial level. It takes a lot of time, if one ever can, to become truly local. No matter how long I live here I will always be "the American", not in a pejorative sense, because I'm 'different'. The French will say: "he's a bit of a nut. But, he's a nice nut!"
Changes come fairly slowly. A big one in the village is that the bread in one of our two shops is no longer made in the village. When we first came it was nice to wake up, jet lagged, and see the smoke coming from Jacques Viguie's bread oven. His bread is a proper country French sour dough. No longer; Monique, Jacque's daughter, decided to go into the family business but moved it to Villefranche as its a much bigger town with more scope. (she now has 3 shops!) So now Jacques drives over every morning to pick up the bread for the village shop. Change. Will they keep the shop open when they decide to retire?
We've had a bit of a building boom. The government changed the planning laws a couple of years ago to encourage building new homes around the edges of the villages. This was to try to get young families to stay in the villages. (Mostly they couldn't afford to renovate the older houses & wanted modern conveniences) This has worked as we now have 5 new homes around the village. Again, slow change. We will see what happens with the new government.

#29 Pille

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 03:59 AM

Here is the shopping list for anyone who wants to follow along with the dinner recipes:

11) Apricots (for a tart)
12) flour
13) butter
14) sugar
15) ground walnuts

Country Apricot tart.

View Post


I'm really looking forward to your Country Apricot Tart recipe - there are some great French apricots available at the market here in Tallinn at the moment, and I'm keen to try a nice French tart with them.

And I'm not envious at all that you get to eat all those cep mushrooms. I've been eating lots of fresh yellow chantarelle mushrooms during the last few days, and the wild mushroom season lasts until late autumn, so I'm all fine :rolleyes:

#30 Marlene

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 04:02 AM

This should be a fun blog. We spent a very few days in Paris recently, which had me really wanting to see the rest of France.

As for your mystery item, it looks like some sort of clamp, but food wise, the first two things that come to mind is either an egg ring, or an english muffin ring. I'd use it to make meat pies. :biggrin:
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