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Dave Hatfield

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Posts posted by Dave Hatfield

  1. Got it, Thanks.

    What are the interior dimensions? I notice they're only giving away 12" wide things even though the appliance is considerably wider.

    Wonder if they make a 230VAC model. Looks a useful device.

    Does it get hot enough for bread making? And can you add water for steam?

    I'm asking because I'm seriously considering having a flutter at bread making. Wonderful though the bread is here it might be nice to have something different & home made.

  2. I'm struggling with the image of peeling and deveining shrimp one-handed, never mind the implements in question. The mind, she boggles.

    The coffee came, and it was excellent. I sipped, and enjoyed, and marveled as the light faded and the colors drained from the day. I had known, from sitting out in the woods after dusk, that there's an imperceptible transition from the colors of day to the greys of the evening. One moment there's color; the next moment, the light is flat and the color has gone. I had seen it in the woods, but never in a city. I will always remember Paris.

    Smithy - I'm still amazed after all these years & I saw it first hand. I'd never seen it before, nor have I ever seen it since.

    Love your description of you first visit to Paris. Its a magic city and, I think, all who've been there have at least one special memory. Too bad we'd no doubt drift way off topic if we all started sharing those memories. Another time, another place; perhaps!

    • Like 2
  3. Well, its a lousy TV night so I'll spend some time writing up another anecdote.

    This is a follow up to my little tale about Chez Bruno & the mother of all thunderstorms. The day after the storm Linda & I were walking along a small lane that ran by some small beached and coves. Very nice. We spotted a small beach side restaurant nothing at all pretentious, but what attracted my attention was their sign which said; "bouillabaisse avec 24 heur notice." Ah ha, our turn to buy dinner was coming up and I really wanted everyone to try a really good bouillabaisse. Nobody other than I had ever eaten one & here we were in the heart of bouillabaisse country just a bit West of Marseilles.

    In we went. "Can we get bouillabaisse tomorrow night?"; "Ah its difficult what with the storm the fishermen haven't been out, I'll check with my father." The young man came back & said they could do it for 2 people they thought. "Thank you, but we need it or 6 people!" Back to the kitchen he went with a stricken look on his face, he returned with his father & his brother. What ensued was classic French as Linda & I stood there & watched. Gesticulating, shouting, shrugs, walk a ways as they 'discussed' the problem. More importantly Dad was on the phone to his fishermen contacts. Eventually the answer was yes, but they couldn't get the hard shelled crabs. They'd serve some tiny inedible ones to keep the flavour right. Hand shakes all around & we were in business.

    We weren't quite sure what to expect, but we had a beautiful evening for whatever was going to happen. Sundown over the Med looking out of the cove. We were the only customers & were seated on a nice covered patio overlooking the small beach. Simple, but very nice as were the kirs we had as an apero. We put ourselves in their hands for the choice of wine. It was local, light, but red & served cold. Not the least expensive.

    The traditional first part came, the soup!

    And, of course, with the soup came the 'accoutrements'. The toast rounds, the peeled garlic cloves, the rouille and the shredded cheese. For those not familiar with this kind of fish soup the procedure is: Take a round of toast, rub it on one side with the garlic clove, dab on a small spoonful of rouille, gently drop it into the soup & sprinkle over a bit of the shredded cheese. Then a brief dip & into the mouth. After the first bite you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Conversation died as everyone was too busy dabbing, rubbing & dipping to talk. We totally demolished the soup & the accoutrements.

    We were graciously allowed a reasonable break before THE MAIN COURSE came.

    All of the various kinds of fish, clams, sea snails, shrimp, mussels beautifully arrange on a huge wooden platter. Wow! Very, very impressive. Dad served us. Amazingly he was able to peel & de-vein the shrimp using a fork & a spoon; one handed! 40 years of practice I guess. He filled our plates, repeatedly. It was hard to choose between all of the different seafood varieties presented; my personal favourite was, I think, the mussels. By the time we'd demolished all the fish not to mention several bottles of wine all we had room left for was coffee.

    I can't remember what the bill was, but I do remember that it was modest given the quality of food & service we'd had. Dad & sons were at the door to say goodbye. Hand shakes all round. To his delight & embarrassment Linda leaned over & gave Dad a kiss on both cheeks.

    A truly truly memorable meal. Sometimes you just get lucky. Can anybody wonder why I love this country?

    • Like 7
  4. Dave, thanks for the blog (just finished reading, can't comment there since it's closed) and for opening this thread.

    I really appreciated that in these weeks of complaints about the scarcity of blogs on this forum (and so on) you just took the ball and started rolling. You showed a nice pair of b***s and confirmed it with your life resume.

    I really hope you will continue writing some more anecdotes, it seems like you have a boatload of them in your bag. If I can ask for something, then I would be really glad if you could write some stories about your years in SF, with the rise of Chez Panisse and so on. Thanks.


    Thanks for the kind comments about the blog. Flattery will get you anywhere! Two little Chez Panisse anecdotes:

    #1 Paying the bill.

    Downstairs at Chez Panisse getting ones bill at the end of a meal could be an issue. On one occasion it was late, we were tired and no staff were in sight. Eventually I got fed up with waiting & went in search of somebody, anybody who'd take my money. (We considered just getting up & leaving, but as we knew we'd want to return we didn't think that would be a good idea.

    I heard voices towards the back of the restaurant, following them I found a table of staff amongst the Jeremiah Tower & the lady herself, Alice. Somewhat embarrassed now I quietly asked for my bill, please. Jeremiah wasn't very pleased, but Alice come and personally presented it.

    #2 Nouveau Zinfandel.

    Chez Panisse decided to do a take on the English/French annual frenzy over the year's Nouveau Beaujolais except that they tried it with a Nouveau Zinfandel. The wine was from my acquaintance Joe Phelps. (Phelps winery & the Oakville Grocery.) A whole menu had been built around the wine.

    Unfortunately it was one of the worst wines I've ever tasted. What to do? The wine wasn't spoiled or corked or anything like that, it was just awful. So, quietly as I could I got the waiter over & asked for the wine list, I choose another wine & asked for the New Zif to be taken away, quietly please I didn't want to make a fuss. They quietly took it somewhere to be poured away.

    The meal was great. The Zinfandel was not present on the bill. Class restaurant. Its the only time I've ever sent a wine back for just being bad. Corked, yes. Spoiled, yes. Bad, just the once.

    I've got one more Chez Panisse type of story, but I'll save it for another day.

    dcarch, I've never been served or driven by a President. Sounds like a pretty neat guy.

    • Like 2
  5. My ignorance of sous vide is nearly total, but I'm willing to learn.

    Thus, my question is why would you bother to make scrambled eggs via sous vide rather than the more conventional way in a pan?

    What are the advantages? The draw back seems to be that it takes a long time.

    I seek enlightenment.

  6. I'm starting this topic because as I did my recent food blog I realised that there were quite a few food anecdotes & mini-stories that I didn't have the time or space to include.

    It occurred to me that many Gulleteers must have their own anecdotes & stories they might like to share. I hope so anyway. Given the vast experience and wide range of geography and tastes represented I'm sure there's some great stories out there just waiting to be written.

    Don't be shy! Anything goes so long as its food related and doesn't violate Society rules.


    I'll start things off with a French tale, what else could it be from me?

    This occurred a number of years ago while we were on vacation in the South of France with friends plus my sister & brother in law. We'd set up a common pool of money to cover expense except that each couple could choose & pay for one dinner each week.

    My sister in law had read about a restaurant called Chez Bruno. It sounded a nice country place that specialised in wild mushrooms & truffles. So I called and made a reservation. Since were going to be sightseeing in that area in any case I said lets stop by & make sure our reservation was OK. (My French wan't that great at the time.) We knew we were in trouble as we pulled into the parking lot & had a young man in uniform with epaulettes open our car door for us. As Linda & I walked to the entrance we passed several baskets of wild mushrooms, cepes mainly, on one side & a large basket of truffles on the other. I'm talking multiple thousands of dollars. Our reservation was OK, but Linda noticed that the place was filled with very smartly dressed French couples.

    Back at the car she, quickly followed by the other ladies, said; "No way are we going into that restaurant dressed like this" Like this being shorts & casual tops. No problem said I we have plenty of time to go back to the gite & change. Hah! We ran into the most severe thunderstorm I've ever seen, 20 km/hour on the free-way We then had to cross Toulon with the storm still raging during rush hour. We gave the ladies a 15 minute turn around time while we guys studied the map. Amazingly the ladies managed their turn around. I asked Leo to drive while I navigated a route we'd plotted avoiding the main part of Toulon. It worked, sort of. At one point going up a steep hill with several inches of water cascading down the road the guy 2 cars ahead of us stalled. The quick thinking French driver ahead of us immediately mounted the side walk & went around. It shouted go Leo, go & we did.

    ​We were nearly an hour late for our reservation, but the restaurant didn't turn a hair. We had an aperitif and Bruno himself came around to announce the evening's menu. (Bruno is roughly 6' 3" & 300 pounds) He recited the menu which included mushrooms or truffles or both in every course except dessert. This being all in French my friend Leo said; "can you repeat all of that in English?" Ha! Ha! says Bruno & stalks off. We had salad with truffles, fish with cepes, beef with both, a truffle infused cheese & I can't remember the dessert.

    Truly a memorable meal. As far as I know the restaurant is still going strong. Must go back when the weather's better.

    edited to correct typos

    • Like 3
  7. Like others I'm torn between my favourite market season. Like Shel_B I can go to a different market every day; well in my case except Tuesday.

    In spring its seeing the new local produce start to appear, in summer its seeing lots of good stuff & the tourists oohing & awing, this time of year its the end of summer vegetables plus in early crop apples and in winter its the local gossip.

    Right now is probable the best from a cooking point of view, but I'm still torn.

  8. This has been lovely, Dave, and it's over entirely too soon. Thanks very much for talking about your life before now as well as your life now. If I may be permitted another question - I'll try to keep it easy :-) - is there a big difference between what one might consider Paris cookery (or perhaps big French city cookery) and what you get in the southwest of France? Or would the bistros and brasseries in your region serve more or less the same as their big-city counterparts?

    Thank you so much for sharing with us! It's a big job and you've done it beautifully.

    Yet another interesting question. First you must bear in mind that a large proportion of the Chefs in Paris come from the SW of France.

    There are considerable differences between 'town' and country. Although many of the bistro dishes are fundamentally the same they will be more refined in Paris and, many times, have an innovative twist to them. This is, I think, because of two major things, Competition & price. Paris abounds in restaurants so you have to be good to survive thus innovation. Country folks have less money & tend to want what they're familiar with thus lower prices and not much innovation. Many of our local restaurants only serve lunch (except on Sunday) & cater for the 'artisans' many of whom are buying lunch with vouchers paid for by their employers, thus the price has to fit those amounts. Vouchers in Paris have a higher monetary value.

    At the higher end of the market as one gets into Michelin listed places the differences tend to disappear. The quality of food & service are similar, but the prices somewhat less in the country places. For instance our favourite Le Vieux Pont is a Michelin one star where we can get the full menu for 49€. A similar meal at a Paris one star would be quite a bit more. Higher overheads & larger clientèle.

    I'll take pictures, but no promises on the quality.

    Hey, you've had to suffer a week of my dismal photography. I'm sure you pictures will be better.

    A final final thought. I'm going to start a new thread I'll call "Food Anecdotes". This will be open to any member to post a short food story whether it be a restaurant experience, a cooking triumph or disaster or whatever else you'd like to share pertaining to food & cooking.

    I'll start it off with stories I didn't have time and/or space for on this blog, but I'd really really like to hear everyone else's anecdotes.

    • Like 1
  9. (Tell Linda I am making her moussaka tomorrow.)

    Linda is delighted and asks that you please take some better pictures than I did.

    Also, as a final thought/recommendation. One of the best set of books I know of about true country French cooking is a series of books by Martin Walker who lives in the Dordogne. They're available on Amazon and are all about Bruno the chief of police in a small village. Give them a try.

  10. Finally, the confession of a food philistine. Here's a typical weekday lunch. No pretensions of culinary excellence, but I'm semi-addicted to this kind of simple meal.

    soup_edited reduced.jpg

    With apologies to my Chinese friends on eG. I just love these little dehydrated soups.

    While the soup is cooking I make my sandwich.

    bread cut reduced.jpg bread slices reduced.jpg

    Now that the bread is ready (this bread is the 'cereal' from the local shop.) I can srart construcing.

    mustard reduced.jpg

    First a thin coating of Dijon mustard. I got this jar on special offer, Its hard to find the fancy Grey Poupon stuff.

    cheese  reduced.jpg

    Next the cheese goes on. Normally Cantal Entre deux. As you can see I buy it in large chunks.

    Here it is on the bread.

    on bread reduced.jpg

    garlic saus reduced.jpg

    Then the garlic sausage.

    cornichons reduced.jpg

    Next the cornichons

    And here's the final assembly.

    assembled reduced.jpg

    finished reduced.jpg

    And that's it. Delicious in my humble opinion. Sort of mid Atlantic with oriental leanings.

    I've enjoyed indulging myself all week. I hope this will encourage others to contribute their culinary tales. I'll be watching & waiting.

    • Like 1
  11. The idea behind selling was to downsize. We just didn't need all the expense or the space of a large farmhouse. At the same time we didn't want to leave this beautiful area or our friends here. Having sold we went into heavy duty search mode. Smaller, more modern, no major renovation. We were getting a bit anxious when friends came to our rescue. They were moving back to the UK to be closer to the grandkids. Modern house, nice views, nice garden, only 6 miles from the old house. Perfect! As a private sale we even saved on Real Estate agents fees.

    The kitchen is OK, I'd prefer bigger and I'd prefer a gas stove, but with granite worktops, pull out drawer type refrigerators, an induction hob (which took some getting used to) and a good range of cabinets it works fine. (There are pictures of this kitchen on my last blog.)
    The dining area is smaller than before, seats 10 at a pinch, but this is good thing as Linda tends to just keep inviting more & more people. (For instance our Sunday lunch for 6 tomorrow just grew to lunch for 8)

    Cooking wise I've tried my hand at oven dried tomatoes, curing olives, making chutney and inventing new dishes or variations thereof. It continues to be fun. In the last few months I've taken up Chinese cooking. I wouldn't say I'm very good at it as of yet, but I'm learning and I'll be asking questions of eGullet's coterie of Chinese experts.

    Although I haven't really talked about them our selection of nearby wine making areas is yet another pleasure. We have Cahors, Gaillac, Corbieres, Buzet, Madiran and Bordeaux all within a couple of hours drive. Who could ask for more?

    Where else I ask could you play golf on a course owned by a Taiwanese and managed by a Japanese lady who feeds us delicious udon lunches?

    So, that's me up to date. As I think you can tell I love our life in France and the great opportunities it offers in a culinary sense. We have great set of friends, almost all of whom cook well. We have a range of good restaurants. We can go to a different market each day of the week should we so wish. Life is good!

    Thanks for reading this. I've enjoyed writing it.

    Question time!

    PS: Many thanks for all of your kind remarks. Should you ever be in 'La France Profund' you know where to go for a free meal.

    • Like 2
  12. Can I cheat and say 'cream maker'?

    Ah yes - but now I know what it does - you add unsalted butter and milk and it produces cream - can you show it to us in action?

    Kerry, you got it. I don't know why that's cheating, but perhaps you'll enlighten me. I'll try to see if I can make it work.

    It's cheating because "Cream Maker" is written quite clearly in raised letters on the handle of the thing! To wit "BEL cream maker - made in England"

    I'll second the request to see it in action, if you can get it to work!

    Senility is creeping up, possibly fast than I'd like.

    I do have the excuse that I don't get my new glasses until next week. :sad:

  13. Can I cheat and say 'cream maker'?

    Ah yes - but now I know what it does - you add unsalted butter and milk and it produces cream - can you show it to us in action?

    Kerry, you got it. I don't know why that's cheating, but perhaps you'll enlighten me. I'll try to see if I can make it work.

    Can you share your creamy vinaigrette recipe please? It looks delicious.

    Yes please! I need a new salad dressing recipe and that one looks tasty.

    The dressing is simplicity itself. Make standard vinaigrette (Mine is 4 parts oil to 1 part white wine vinegar; a good glob of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and H de P) Having made the vinaigrette add roughly an equal amount of heavy cream & mix very well.

    """ patented rub """

    Maybe I should have said secret rub, A search of the patent off ice won't find it.

    • Like 2
  14. This evening's post is going to be about the meeting our wine tasting group last night, but before that I want to introduce you to my mystery object. Here is is:

    mys 3.jpg mys 2.jpg

    It is a culinary object. Made & patented in England. The question is; what is its purpose in life?

    Anyway on to the wine tasting. First Linda & I had a very simple supper. Just some BBQ'd ribs and a simple salad. The ribs has my patented rub on them & the salad a fresh batch of creamy vinaigrette.

    vineg end.jpg

    Off to our friends house for the tasting. We take turn hosting the event each month. We had a good turn out this month, 6 couples & two guys whose wives were off somewhere. The idea is that each couple bring a bottle. This month it was any favourite wine that cost under 10€.


    A clever choice of Blanquette de Limoux. This pre-dates champaign and is a lot cheaper. Totally dry with nice fruit.


    Here's a Chardonnay made down in the Miner-vois, but sold by Paul locally.

    flowers.jpg Some nice flowers to brighten things up.

    haut pez.jpg

    Chateau de Haut Pezaud from the Loire, Our only rose .


    Château des Places from the Graves area of Bordeaux,


    A Gaillian. This is what we brought, Its from Domaine de Chanade in the nearby Gaillac region,

    I think I've missed a wine. Its this one!


    A very nice local wine from a very hospitable winery


    Its a dessert wine to finish off the evening,


    Next month? I'm not sure, but as always it will be a challenge to come up with something that everybody can find within the cost limit,.


    st nick.jpg

    • Like 1
  15. thanks for the pics of the HyperMarket. i went to one years ago in FR called Mammouth ( in Tours ) Ive never seen so much cheese line up in one place !

    did yours segregate the meat by animal? Beef /// Lamb /// pig /// horse /// etc ? they had a big paper-mache model of the animal above each section ...

    R eats Walnuts ? you shell them for him ? He still has molars? or are walnuts still soft ?

    Yes, the meat is divided by type. No papier- mâche animals in the markets any more, but we have a plaster of Paris cows head hanging in our kitchen.

    He loves walnuts and he needs no help in shelling them. He's very good at getting just the meat. The only reason we get any walnuts is because we gather them into a basket & he eats the one at time. He likes hazel nuts as well, but not peanuts.

    • Like 1
  16. Hi Dave, I'm enjoying the blog immensely, thank you. When we stayed in France last year (not too far from you) I was especially struck by the quality of the fresh ingredients in the Hyper U, but I found myself wondering whether this will ultimately have the same detrimental effect on smaller local shops and markets as it has had elsewhere. Is there still a strong sense of buying from smaller, specialist shops among the younger generations?

    Also, I notice you say comfit rather than confit. Are they different things or am I missing something here?

    I really think I could live happily in rural France!

    There is strong sense of buying locally. Every fresh food item must be labelled with its place of origion. That helps.

    My mistake. you're right it should be CONFIT.

    A supermarket!? Looks just like a Harris-Teeter (except the brains).

    French shouldn't have supermarkets, just little shops and markets and guys with a cigarette selling stuff from a push cart.

    Don't know what a Harris-Teeter is when its home.

    They do have lots of little shops & markets. The guys with cigarettes are slowly dying away mores the pity.

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