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Dave Hatfield

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  1. Having showed an outdoor market I though I'd show you a HyperMarket. This one is in Villefranche de Rouergue. After parking the first thing ones does is to get a trolley. Note the yellow disc in the handle. This is in place of a 1€ coin, you have to bring the trolley back to get your coin back. Also notice that I've hung my shopping basket on the trolley, no sacks here. Very ECO friendly. Here's the main entrance to the market. As a security measure you can only enter from one end. A flower display. The flowers are all fake. The French use these during the winter months when I real thing gets very expensive. They do tend to have a large wine department. In addition currently there is a large tent in the parking lot full of wines for their fall wine sale. Cheese & more cheese. I deliberately didn't take any close ups so as to not drive certain people nuts. Here's part of the fruit & Vegetable section. The butcher's counter. Now that I look I see that this picture is reversed. Ready made Aligot The fish department. Lots of fish varieties I'd never heard of until I came to France. How about some celery root? OR? Some pork hearts and some brains. And finally some ris de veau. Note the pigs trotter next to it. As you can see much of the market would be familiar, but as you look there are a few special & uniquely French things. And just to tease you some cans of comfit for 5.30€ each.
  2. Her's the next episode. Life in France. Blog Day 5 Having decided it was to be France for retirement the question became ; Where in France? We quickly decide that SW France was our best option. A lot of Internet shopping & several trips later we bought our house in Parisot. Even though the kitchen wasn't up to much I started cooking immediately. I learned to cook comfit, how to make Alliade de Toulouse to go with magret and how to make a galantine. Meanwhile we were learning the local restaurants. Most are simple country places, not fancy, but solid. Lunch is the thing to have in this area; a four course meal for less than 10€. (its gone up now to 12-14€) Our absolute favourite is Le Vieux Pont in Belcastel. It has a Michelin star, but manages to be very friendly and inviting. Another favourite is Le Auberge de la Grange a converted barn. No menu, good cooking and a cheese board that's just left on the table. Having bought a modernised stone farmhouse we proceeded to remodel it. We did a much improved kitchen; American fridge, 5 burner stove, 2 ovens, etc. We used the insides of IKEA cabinets, but with custom made fronts. Gerard who made the fronts was a falconer & used to bring us pate from rabbits his birds had caught. We were fortunate to land in the midst of a covey of cooks. Many of our local friends are superb cooks both in the French style and in what I'd call an International style. After a couple of years we started some food traditions; the first fall cassolulet at about this time of year; an American style Thanksgiving dinner ( up to 18 people. We made the mistake of allowing our friend Jacques to bring the cheese one year. He turned up with nearly 20 varieties of goats cheese!) and an English style Christmas & Boxing Day. We eat very well indeed. There were numerous expeditions to try restaurants. Chez Ruffet near Pau was a great 2 star (closed now unfortunately), Le Jardin de Sens in Montpellier (also to see America's rugby team get clobbered by South Africa in the World Cup.) and Michael Bra's in Laguiole. ( a vast disappointment), but generally we tried less prestigious places and were rarely disappointed. After a while I started writing a blog about life in France and my cooking. (French Food Focus) I won't bore you with the details, but the link below will take you to it. The blog is also why I haven't included hardly any recipes in this blog. There are over 50 recipes in the other blog. I don't write it very often now, but I'm thinking of getting more active with it. After about 8 years we decided to sell the farmhouse. It was too big, too expensive to run and like most of these places there were always repairs of some sort to be done. Thus we sold it about three years ago. I'll talk about what happened next tomorrow.
  3. How would you say your fine dining meals influenced your cooking at home? Did you try to recreate dishes? Do you have a loose collection of repeat meals that you make over perhaps the course of a month, or is the season the prime factor or?? I do try to recreate some if the simpler 'fine dining' dishes, not a lot of luck, but I try. And, yes, I do have a collection of meals that I repeat over time. Many of these dishes are based upon seasonal ingredients. I think its mainly become blurred. Obviously, some dishes are truly French and pretty much need to be made in the French manner. Others are truly American or English or ??? and need to be a certain way. Since I really only started cooking on a daily basis after we came to France I do a lot of things in the 'French' manner. Smithy, you ask all the easy questions don't you. I'd say that Linda feels as if she's an ex-pat from England. She's still very fond of her Geordie roots. For me it a little more difficult. Deep down I'm still an American, but I lived in England for so long that I feel somewhat English. I don't think I'll ever feel French; the cultural & linguistic differences are just too great. Both George Kennan & Thomas Wolfe wrote very movingly about the difficulty of returning to ones home country after a long absence. There's an expression about being 'mid-Atlantic' that somewhat applies.
  4. A pretty face, Linda's, will get you anywhere with a Frenchman.
  5. The 90;s Linda & I married the day after my birthday in 1989. We persuaded the owners of a very nice restaurant near Lambourne to open specially for us and had a superb meal with children, close family and selected friends. The next day we took off for (you guessed it) California for our honeymoon. We started in Carmel naturally, ate our way up to San Francisco, then Mendocino and on up to Eureka. This was Linda's first trip to the states. Although we had some great meals I think the American breakfasts were her favourites. She had trouble remembering whether she like her eggs easy over or over easy, but otherwise Linda picked up 'Americanisms' pretty quickly. Back home in England we bought a cottage on a river near Newbury and did a lot of cooking and entertaining. We'd a gather the kids (the youngest being about 20 years old) for traditional English Sunday lunches with Linda as Chef & me as Sous Chef. We also started making our own sausages, comfit and pates. We ate very well. We used to drive over to Wells Stores which was at the time THE best cheese shop in England. We also cooked a lot up in Linda's beloved Northumberland where she owned a house from before our marriage. Meanwhile I was having the time of my life at work. We were mashing two companies together, 8 European subsidiaries plus Distributors. Many,many food experiences during this time. Here are just a few: - Toit de Passey. This is a restaurant that was really really good. I took Linda there when we went to Paris to buy her wedding hat. The neighbourhood was nothing to brag about & you entered the restaurant via a small clunky elevator, but you walked out into a magnificent room where one wall was all glass framing the Eiffel Tower. The food & service lived up to the view. - Group dinner with our French subsidiary. Yves our MD asked what apero I'd have. I said same as you. It came. Delicious. It was a 1910 port! - We were set to go to Spain on vacation. A few days before we were due to leave my Swiss friend, Pierre, called; " Did we want to come over to have dinner at Girardet's near Lausanne? ". YES! I went home & told Linda who thought I was nuts, but went along with it & changed our reservations. She found out why. At that time Girardet was reckoned to be the best restaurant in the world. Its still the best restaurant I've ever been too. - Another Pierre & Girardet story. We had a new product, sold for about $100K each. Pierre & his crew had sold more that I expected them to by about July. Pierre said that since they'd exceeded their quota they may as well quit selling. I said no, he said what incentive can you give us. I said lunch at Girardet for every 2 more you sell for a salesman & his companion. I hosted lunch for 14! Best ever incentive program! (Linda got to come as my 'companion') - Two stories about our nutty Greek company President. He didn't like England, thought the food was bad. When I finally enticed him over he insisted on staying in London even though our offices were an hour away be train. We had a good day, went home for cocktails & headed off to the 'The Waterside Inn' of Roux brothers fame. sat out by the river, had a great meal. As the meal drew to a close I could see that he was getting nervous about how he would get back to his hotel since it was the opposite direction. I was non committal. Eventually I paid the bill and we walked out to a waiting chauffer driven Rolls Royce I'd hired. He never gave me any trouble about coming to England again. Some years later he & his wife were over on a vacation visit & were staying with us. He really really wanted to buy dinner for us, but I kept saying there was nowhere good we could get into. Finally he persuaded Linda to call the 'Manior des Quatre Saisons' Raymond Blanc's place near Oxford. Low & behold they'd had a cancellation! Off we went. Again a superb meal. As Raymond came around to our table to see how things were we asked if it would be possible to visit the kitchen after dinner? No, we had to see the kitchen working. Raymond put our meal on hold & spent 30 minutes showing us around the kitchen & introducing us to the cooks. A truly memorable experience. In 1993 I was again asked to return to the states to head up marketing. Away we went. After quite a bit of thought we decided to renovate the Carmel Valley house rather than buy something else. We rented for nearly a year before it was finished. We had my dream kitchen. Two dishwashers, a solid wood maple work island 21/2 by 6 feet. My pride & joy was my Jade Dynasty stove. 6 burners, a griddle, a gas BBQ and 4 ovens. It had a custom built hood that was so powerful that if you turned on all the fans it sucked smoke from the fireplace at the other end of the house. Linda & I cooked many a meal in that kitchen. As well as the cooking there were (and still are) a lot of great restaurants in the area. In the village itself the 'Running Iron' served great ribs; 'Plaza Linda' was superior Mexican and 'Wills Fargo' was a good place for steaks. My absolute favourite though was 'Rocky Point', perched on a cliff over the pacific it has great views and served superior steaks & seafood. I tried to take early retirement, but was bored. It was too soon. Fortunately some industry friends asked me to start & head up a new Division of their company. The bad news was that it mean moving to Chicago. We did, made some great friends and ate very well. The weather sucked, however and Linda plus dogs were on the point of rebellion. Luckily for me we decided to move the Division HQ to Rhode Island where our factory was located. The weather was much better and the sea food was outstanding. We went to our first proper clam bake, learned to cook lobster and did a lot of entertaining. Our favourite restaurant was called the 'Middle of Nowhere Diner'. It was a real dump, but they served the best ever fish & chips, the Friday special was $3.95 including a bowl of chowder. Great stuff. Near the end of 1999 Linda persuaded me to retire, permanently this time. We'd planned to retire back to our Carmel Valley house, but a combination of an unbelievable offer for the house plus many illnesses & deaths in the family requiring trips to England made us reconsider moving 3000 miles further away. Where to go? Back to Europe for sure. The English weather didn't appeal. We both loved France. Decision made! I'll write the rest of this in French since that's where we've lived for the past 12 years. No, just kidding. Besides it would probably take me several weeks to figure out the vocabulary, grammar and to write coherently.
  6. Haven't read the book & doubt that I'll spend $35.00 on it at Amazon. There's a good interview with him http://www.grubstreet.com/2013/10/daniel-boulud-my-french-cuisine-interview.html. To be perfectly honest he seems a bit to 'New York' for my taste, but as I said I haven't read the book or eaten in his restaurant (s) so I could well be misjudging him.
  7. Funny you should ask. I'll be doing one later in the week. Believe it or not despite the multitude of apple varieties available to me I still prefer the good old granny smith for tarte tatin. Perhaps you could work in small snippets about changes as they relate to food: availability, whether modern agriculture has selected for more sturdy and less tasty produce, influence of immigrants, changes toward or away from meat, whether the EU has really helped to protect certain artisan foods and whether it makes a difference in daily life. I don't mean to be asking for essays, but I too am interested. FWIW my food blog (admittedly 8 years ago) discussed changes in my area, and nobody complained. Edited for clarity. Let me have a quick go at some of the food oriented changes in Europe over the past few years. One of the big agricultural problem is the distortions in the market made by the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) Farmers have to submit their crop planting plans well over a year in advance and they'll do so based upon what the subsidies are. This year for instance we had sunflowers running out our ears, no doubt a safflower oil lake is in prospect. All this has led to consolidation of farms, the larger farms are more equipped to handle the paperwork & take full advantage of CAP. Despite a lot of talk I can't see much change in organics. Even though the Supermarkets now all have a small section they don't seem to do that well.Local market traders have always been pretty natural, they can't afford the chemicals. GM is still a dirty word in the EEC, but the big producers use crop varieties that 'market' well rather than those that taste good. There seems to be a trend away from meat towards vegetables, but the trend I find most disturbing is that towards pre-packaged meals. We were in the UK last week &I was amazed at the shelves and shelves full of ready made meals. It almost seemed hard to find any real food. Its not as bad here in France, but one can see it creeping in slowly. I don't know whether overall the EEC has helped artisan producers. Certainly they are doing well. I see no diminishment of the Markets either in terms of number of stall holders or number of shoppers. I might have a different opinion if we lived in a more urban area. It seems to me that the bureaucracy of the EEC and the European Parliament are largely wastes of money; certainly when it comes to food. Policies that hold up the price of foods to the consumer while paying farmers not to grow things seems daft, but that's what CAP does. Food politics are as always fraught with duplicity, complexity, political posturing and plain stupidity.
  8. Here it is. Its just the thing for a cold winter's day. Linda's Moussaka 1) Make a bolognaise sauce using a pound of ground beef. Be sure to use extra onion. 2) when cooked add left over cooked lamb cut very small. (We always save some from a Lamb shoulder or leg) 3) Add a Knorr lamb stock cube or any leftover lamb gravy or very concentrated lamb stock. Use about 1 cup of liquid here. 4) Use 2 large eggplants (aubergines) or 3 medium & slice into thin rings (About 1/8th inch thick) Cover liberally with salt then after ten minutes blot with paper kitchen towels. Turn the slices over and repeat the process. 5) Next brush eggplant both sides with vegetable oil. Place high in a very hot oven (220C) until golden. (keep checking underneath to prevent burning) This should take about 15 minutes. 6) Keep enough eggplant to completely cover the top of your dish & place the surplus in the bottom of the dish (As you can see from the picture I use a shallow casserole to cook the moussaka in.) 7) Cover with the bolognaise. Add top layer of eggplant to cover. 8) Make a white sauce ( using milk, mustard, salt, pepper, flour, mix these together). When cooked, in a separate bowl add a very small amount of the white sauce at a time to a beaten egg, until all the sauce is incorporated. (this will avoid curdling) 9) Pour the white sauce over the eggplant. 10) Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top of the white sauce & sprinkle some paprika & freshly ground nutmeg over that. 11) Bake in a 200 degree C oven for about 45 minutes. 12) Serve piping hot with vegetables. You may want to wait a few minutes as it may be too hot. Linda says that you can also make it the day before & keep it in the fridge then bring it up to room temperature before it goes into the oven.
  9. Last night we went to a 'pop up ' restaurant run by a couple of local friends. The cuisine was Indian. In other words we had a Curry Night. (I'll apologise for the pictures. I was using my phone & the light wasn't that good. I'll also apologise for my pathetic knowledge of Indian food.) There were around 30 people for the dinner. This was the 3rd and last dinner that the ladies were doing for this year. They had arranged the tables very nicely around the room and set them beautifully. (the idea was to make up 'parties' of friends, thus we were sharing a table with other couples we know well. Other tables were of up to 12 people.) We started with some kind of aperitif, I don't know what was in it, but I must say I didn't like it much. No problem as there were carafes of wine on each table. It was self service & you could ask for white, rose or red. Each table had a tray of several 'dips' & a chipati to spread them on. Very nice, I liked to more piquant ones. Here's the first course. Next; More: Finally Dessert It was all very nice even if I can't remember the names of all the dishes. The wine kept flowing as did the conversation. I even set up a golf date with my fried Nick who has finally recovered enough from a very bad accident to play.
  10. Can you tell me more about the tart? It looks a lot like one of my family recipes that we call plum cake - although the crust is more like a cookie dough than a cake or pie crust. Think I originally got the recipe from Jacques Pepin, but its been a number of years ago. In any case its a very easy tart to make. You first make a pâte brisée and chill it in the fridge. Meanwhile cut the plums in half & remove the seeds. (By the way apricots are great for this tart when they're in season.). Next roll out the pastry into a large round about two inches larger than the size of tart you want to end up with, (I use an old perforated pizza pan to go underneath.) Make up a mixture of 1 part flour, two parts sugar and 3 parts ground almonds, mix well & spread evenly over the rolled out pastry, but leaving a 2 inch uncovered gap all around.. Place the plums, cut side down, on the pastry in concentric circles making sure the pastry is fully covered. You can add a second layer of plums if you have them. Next bring the uncovered pastry edges up around the plums pinching to to keep it up. Place in a 200 C oven on a baking sheet & bake until the pastry edges are browned & the plums are soft. Its best to let the tart cool for quite a while before cutting. Serve with cream or ice cream. Pretty easy.
  11. I'm afraid that that's pretty off topic, but via PM perhaps. Its a big question with no simple or short answer. Sorry.
  12. Having read about possible outages to day I thought I'd better post this before more of the USA wakes up and starts fiddling. Upon my return to the states I decided to rent an apartment in Emeryville, just across the bay from San Francisco. I contacted old friends and quickly started finding some of the great S.F. restaurants. Favourites were; Stars, Scott's for seafood, North China, Tadich Grill, Compton Place, plus others I can no longer remember. I do remember that the best deal for parking was to ,go to the Huntington Hotel & give the doormen $5 to park the car. They'd watch it all evening. The Big Four bar in the hotel was a convenient meeting place, a great bar in the S.F. tradition. Trivia question: Who were the big four? Living in the East bay as I did I quickly found foodie heaven on Shattuck Avenue! Pig By The Tail, The Cheese Place, Monterey Market and, of course, Chez Panisse just across the street. Visiting each of them became my Saturday ritual. Lunch upstairs then shopping. I'd now started to try to cook. Being a real amateur I followed recipes pretty strictly. As with many others Julia Child was my mentor. I tried my hand at a number of her recipes. About this time I moved to a condo I'd bought in Mt View. (the commute to Santa Clara where I worked was getting to be a real bummer.) The condo had a much better kitchen and I was learning all the time so I started to give dinner parties for friends. I also discovered The Silver Palate Cookbook about this time. Lots of great recipes; some of which I still use. The company I worked for was full of serious cooks, the President (a Greek), the VP of R&D, the director of Finance amongst others. It began to get competitive, but in all honesty the President was the best cook of the group ably assisted by his wife. They both wrote & privately published cook books. There were many memorable meals especially on Friday's when impromptu meals would spring up. My crowing achievement was a Christmas meal. Both the President & I had published our menus and were holding open houses a few days before the holiday. I ended up with more customers than he did! I was thrilled. Thank you Julia, Julee & Sheila! About this time I bought a house for weekend use in Carmel Valley. Great views, but the house was un-updated 1950s. Still I loved it and did a lot of weekend cooking there. Food shopping was excellent. A favourite being the vegetable stand owned by a Mexican family located by Carmel Valley Road. Ultra fresh veggies, corn picked several times a day or to order during the season were hard to beat. Even the supermarkets stocked extra things. This led me to expand my cooking repertoire with an increasing amount of BBQ's as the stove wasn't very good. In 1988 I was asked to return to Europe. This was the start of a great period in my life. I had a great job, remarried (Linda still puts up with me) and cooked and ate my way around Europe. 90's tomorrow.
  13. I might be tempted into a really high quality casserole. Staub or similar. With winter approaching they're just the thing for long cooked stews. My other expensive want is a Kenwood mixer. Their top of range model does it all. They put Kitchen Aid to shame. The sausage grinder & stuffer are just super.
  14. She says yes & she'll write it up when she comes back from walking Rupert. Probably Caussade. Remember that some market vendors are in their dotage & their produce is straight from their 'potagers'. They mainly attend market for the gossip. Not sure, but it could have been bunnies on the hoof. There's a section of Caussade market where they sell not only live bunnies, but chickens, ducks and doves. Petty normal around here. Guests arrived at 1 PM, had drinks, talk & nibbles until nearly 2 PM, Sat down around 2 PM, we had four courses each taking around 30 minutes on average. (the gap between cheese & dessert being longer.) . then more gabbing & finally coffee. No interruptions for frivolities such as games. Many go for a walk after lunch. In this case after helping to clean up I had a great nap. Well, yes, papillon means butterfly in French. And it is a trademark for that cheese company.
  15. Linda's always contains lamb. We had shoulder of lamb the other night & she saved some especially for her moussaka. Well mostly the cheeses are left 'out' except in summer when its too hot. They don't last long in any case because I rarely buy very much of a type. Most are ready to eat with the exceptions of brie & Camembert both of which normally need some time at room temperature before being ready to eat. The four above all came from a SuperMarket so the turnover is fairly rapid. As you'll see later in the week their cheese departments are large & sophisticated. Well I'm sort of a failed engineer, spent most of my career in Marketing, Strategic planning & program management & general management all in very high tech companies where the engineering background was very helpful. I'm not sure whether it was accidental or not, but its no secret I was born in Eugene, Oregon, but grew up in Santa Rosa, California. Lucky me. I think they do make extra bread. Some of them have no regular shops, but only sell at market. (remember that they can show & sell their wares at a different market every day of the week all within easy driving distance.) I haven't really noticed whether or not they're normally stocked because if I go to my normal shop they're not in a town where there's a market. When I do go to market I normally don't go to my normal shops, but get something different from the market. My usual practice is to buy our whole wheat bread for sandwiches from our village baker. For other breads I pop over the hill to Varen to the excellent baker there who does in addition to 'standard' loaves a different speciality bread each day. These are very good indeed.
  16. Here's what we did for Sunday lunch. We had four friends in and started at about 1:00PM, finshed about 5:00PM. Pretty typical for Sunday lunch around here. I'll apologise up front for goofing this up a bit. I got so involved in the lunch that I neglected to take pictures when I should have done so. Sorry guys & girls. Anyway, after drinks & nibbles we started with baked tomatoes. (remember the tomato picture in the market?) For these I cut off the tops, cut out some of the core and filled the hole with a dab (less than a teaspoon) of balsamic vinegar, finely chopped garlic, some dried basil and Salt & pepper. These went into a hot (200 degree C) oven for about 45 minutes. They came out & had fresh basil put on then back into the oven to finish off. I garnished them with sprigs of fresh coriander (cilantro). They were served with the breads I'd bought that morning. This is the main course moussaka that Linda had made. (No after cooking picture I'm afraid) Her moussaka is fantastic, lamb, ground beef, aubergines (eggplant), tomato, a cheesy white sauce. Its incredible. This was served with broccoli. Then came the cheeses. As you can see there were 4 today. A somewhat different assortment to my usual choices. Le Vieux Pané - Cows milk. 25% MG. Aged two weeks. from the Loire area. Margalet Papillon - This is a sheep's milk cheese. Made by Papillon who are a large cheese producer. Despite its commercial origins it is a very nice tasting cheese. Colline aux Chevre - a classic goats milk cheese from the Tarn region, Segla to be precise. The claim is that the open land & space give the milk extra good flavour. Run by the ETEVENON family who are good marketeers as well as good cheese makers. Bleu d'Auvern - A cows milk cheese from as you will have guessed the Auvern region. Its a relatively new cheese having first been produced in the 50's. Interestingly it uses rye bread yeast and is 'needled' to improve aeration. More bread with these of course. After a break we had dessert. This was a plum (prune) tart using locally grown plums. We poured a little bit of cream over it. Some coffee for those who wanted it. I should mention the wines. Both the red & the white were from one of our favourite wineries. The white is a blend of varietals from the region, its very fruity, but very dry. The red which the vintner calls 'Traditional Prestige' is very smooth for it young age (2009) and perfect with the moussaka. All in all a nice laid back lunch. Very typical of Sunday lunches here. Tomorrow we're eating out. I'll let you guess as to the cuisine.
  17. About those bread stands: are the breads all different? (I notice that one stand has mostly flatbreads.) Does each stand come from an individual bakery? Do you prefer one over the other? How large is the city where you live? What size population does the market serve? Great blog. Thank you. The breads are different, but most have the standard types then their special loaves. Each comes from a different baker. And, yes, we have our favourites. Yesterday I bought a whole grain batard, an onion & olive stick and a raisin & nut stick. Actually, our favourite baker doesn't go to market. His shop is in Varen. The village we live just outside of has a population of around 400. The market serves people in roughly a 20 mile radius, but remember there is a market somewhere nearby every day of the week.
  18. You will have to explain! Silicon Valley vs. silicone valley. silicone is what they use for a certain kind of implant. Pedantic, its the engineer in me.
  19. Versatec. But let us not drift away too far or we'll end up inside somebody's bra. (Sorry, couldn't resist)
  20. Here's the first instalment of my autofoodography. Enjoy. I was interested in food from an early age. If my Mother is to be believed I was allergic to milk so was fed on whisky & orange juice. I rather doubt it, but she insisted that it was true. My earliest food memory is having warm unhomogenised milk at kindergarten. It had lumps in it which turned my stomach. We HAD to drink it, but if I was lucky I could snag one of the chocolate flavoured bottles which were somewhat drinkable. My family were plain cooks in the English style. My Grandmother had been a cook in the lumber camps in Oregon; plain food, but lots of it. My Mother followed suit. I tried my hand early on with things like bacon & eggs and pancakes. Cookies of course. Where I really started to take a real interest in food was at my friend's houses. Most of them were third generation Italian immigrants. Their Mom's or Grandmother's did the cooking, delicious! I learned about garlic & herbs. I also learned about wine. At first a bit of wine with lots of water then as the years passed more wine less water. The wine came from 2 gallon jugs from under the table and was made by Dad, or Uncle or cousin or friends. There were no particularly interesting food experiences all the way through school & college (food was fodder), but things got interesting after I joined the Air Force. I was lucky enough after lots of training to get posted to Madrid. That opened my eyes; beef, lamb, seafood, paella, wonderful vegetables, you name it. Madrid was so inexpensive at that time that even on a fairly paltry military salary one could afford to eat in the really good restaurants on a very frequent basis. I will never forget my first meal at Botin; baby eels & roast lamb. During my service I was also lucky enough to spend two 3 month periods in France. Great stuff. A friend & I finally got to have a long weekend in Paris. I fell in love, who wouldn't! We were so broke that the best we could afford were the student cafes. The cheapest identifiable meat on the menu turned out to be horse meat. Another first. We (I was married by now) returned to the states the day of Kennedy's assassination. Welcome home! I found a job in the computer industry, but yet again no notable food experiences until in 1967 My employer asked me to join in opening an office in Brussels. The basis being that I was the only technical person who had ever been to Europe. The food in Brussels was wonderful; moules, superb beef, the mobile frites stand that came every Thursday. The beers of course. Two years later we moved to England where I spent all of the 1970's. English food at the time was good if plain, Lots of steaks & chops, great meat pies, super fish & chips, but I never learned to like hot desserts. I still wasn't doing any cooking because my wife didn't like men in the kitchen. She was a cook in the style of my Mother & Grandmother, plain, but good. Luckily for me, however, I was travelling all over Europe building up the European operations of the Silicon Valley start up I'd joined. My associates quickly learned that I loved good food so I began to be shown the best restaurants in the major cities around Europe. What a lucky guy I was, they paid me to eat in all these great restaurants! I remember going to lunch (frequently) with the owner of our French distributor; his 'cafeteria' as he liked to call it was a Michelin 1 star where he had the same table every day. At the end of the 70s my marriage broke up, I returned to the states to head up Marketing of my company and I, finally, started to cook! More on that tomorrow when I'll cover the 80s. Questions so far?
  21. Local produce at this time of the years includes; tomatoes (soon to be gone). salad, artichokes and the root vegetables are beginning to appear. (turnips, rutabaga, swedes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts and early potatoes.) Apples are plentiful as are prunes (more like what we might call plums) These will feature in Sunday's lunch. I'm also seeing pomegranates (don't know if they're local) and quince. You're right. They are objects made from mainly olive wood. As noted mortar & pestle sets, salad bowls, serving boards plus wooden containers & utensils. Did anyone notice the mini wine/cider presses in the other picture? Unfortunately, the guy who sells Limoges china seconds by weight wasn't there yesterday. He only comes about once a month. He's a bit of a philistine actually. He eats rind & all. He can't be bothered with bread unlike his owner. I'm glad so many people got the mushrooms. Shows how knowledgeable you are and that you were paying attention.
  22. R is my avatar. He mainly eats dog meal with roast chicken (the chicken coated with salt, pepper, garlic granules and herbs de province. He has yet to meet a cheese he doesn't like.
  23. Thought I'd start you off with a look at the Sunday market in St Antonin. I needed a few things for lunch so drove over. Let me apologise up front for the quality of the pictures. It was overcast this morning & I was using the camera in my phone, but I still think they give an impression of the market. Bought some flowers here at L's request for the table. Bread stand number one Bread stand number two Bread stand number three Bread stand number four. Eat your heart out rotus Can't go to market without stopping at the café. Some cheese More cheese. These are little chevres coated with various herbs & spices. Roast chicken for lunch? People walking down the main street. Some more flowers. Do you like macaroons? More cheese Dry sausages. How about a few olives. Canned pâtes Yet more sausages Who can guess what these are? A bit of wine. A bit of wood. My friend Sarah. She & her husband make organic wines. Their children raise free range turkeys for the holiday season. Wine flovoured turkey, yummy! View from up the hill on the way home. View going down the other side of the hill. Our village d house above can barely be seen. So, there's my little market foray. All I bought today were some loaves of bread, the flowers for Linda & some tomatoes to roast for lunch. Because the software went a bit funny on me the tomato pic & the Rent a donkey sign got put in the wrong place. No big deal/
  24. Gosh, I could write a whole blog just answering your 'question' Languages, I speak good English, good American, lousy French, have lost most of my once OK Spanish and can be almost polite in German. Did French in High School because I had to do a language thinking I'd never use it. Dumb! Its hard to answer about my food perceptions since I've spent so much time abroad that I can't remember what I originally thought. What I'd say now is that I like honest food honesty prepared and presented. I'm not quite sure what you mean by food ethics so can't really answer. Don't think I'm supposed to spend too much time on Rupert, but I can say that he's fine in good health and has his own blog these days. (www.adoginfrance. blogspot.com)
  25. Here I am back again for my third food blog. I hope everybody will enjoy this one even though it going to be somewhat narcissistic. Please bear with me; I'll try not to be too boring. This blog is going to give my food/cooking history over the years. Because I'm older than dirt that makes for a lot of history. Monday will have me born & my food history up to 1980. Then a decade a day up to Friday and a close off on Saturday. As this is my personal food history elements of my life outside food will have to be included. I'll keep these to a minimum, but they will be necessary to provide context to the food history. What I'll do in answer to questions or comment is the following: (pretty standard, but I like things to be clear.) - I'll answer if I can. - If the subject is too personal or somewhat off topic I'll answer, but either deflect or steer back on topic in my answer. - If really out of line I'll just ignore the question/comment. Equally, I'll do my best to stay on topic. I really don't think that PM's are appropriate when discussing a food blog so I'd like everything to be out in the open. If you have questions that are off topic in regard to food or my food history, but pertinent to France, living or visiting here then by all means PM me. Enough about that. In this blog I'm going to not only take you on a culinary journey, but a physical one as well. The USA to Spain then Spain back to the USA then the USA to Belgium then Belgium to England then England to the USA then back to England then back to the USA and finally to France. There's Japan and Asia squeezed in somewhere as well. I've travelled a bit. At a class reunion a few years ago somebody asked me why I'd travelled so much? My answer then and now is: "I needed to keep one step ahead of the sheriff" Until tomorrow. I'm going to have fun with this. My autofoodography? My cusineography? You name it. PS: Having looked at what I've written I've decided that its too literary. Thus I'm going to post topical ( i.e. what's happening this week) inputs which will be far more pictorial. PPS: Yes, I do have a mystery object. Wait for it.
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