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Dave Hatfield

eGfoodblog: Dave Hatfield

193 posts in this topic

Here's the piece de resistance so to speak. Our lunch at Le Vieux Pont in Belcastel.

Before I start I have a confession to make. I just can't bring myself to take pictures of food in restaurants. Linda kindly agreed to take the pictures and our fellow diners were kind enough not to complain. Thank you dear wife!

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The bridge is one of the first things you see as you enter the village.

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The village street. The steps at the left lead to the restaurant.

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View from the bridge looking up.

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The church on the other side of the river.

Having wandered around we went into the restaurant. Having ordered various aperitifs (Linda had a Kir & I had a glass of white port) We were presented with the menus.

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And our first amuse bouche.

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A local sausage, smoked ham & avocado with green lentils.

Being as there were 8 of us we had just about everything on the menu.

Before the entrée there was a second amuse bouche. Somehow we didn't get a picture of it.

entrées:

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Tomato stuffed with quinoa de chair, fried rouget & tomato juice with basil.

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Veal's foot with shrimp in a confit of grapefruit & apple with spring vegetables.

Second course:

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Veal sweet breads with vegetables marinated in Celery oil

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Lotte fried with 'notes' of citrus, almond cream, peas with ham & peas with lemon.

Plats:

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Fried cod with potato & chopped oysters and green bullion with anchovies.

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Rack of veal served pink with eggplant & tarragon marmalade and a potato brochette with veal sweetbreads.

Next came the cheese. All from the Rouergue which is the local region.

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In case you are wondering; yes that is Roquefort at the back & it is local.

Then we had our pre-dessert.

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Now for the real desserts:

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Strawberries three ways.

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Apricots, also three ways.

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And, you guessed it! Chocolate three ways.

We were also served another dessert type (a foam concoction) with coffee.

The wines we enjoyed were a Cotes de Roussillon and a Cahors. Both excellent & both the choice of the sommelier. Terrific bargains at under $20.00 each.

As always a wonderful meal in a great atmosphere. We will continue going forever if possible.


Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)

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Dave, I love your pictures of your town.....it is truly fabulous to see villages like that still exist. I've never been to France, really really want to go sometime, and your pictures look like something out of a movie, really great. It's nice to not see Walmarts and Ikea and Home Depot at every turn.

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Wow - a beautiful looking meal in a beautiful little place...I can see why you want to continue to go there.

What a great recap - thanks to Linda for being willing to take the pix!

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Gorgeous stuff. I really need to figure out some way to afford another trip to France.

I've never tried baking avocado.  I'd heard that avocado doesn't stand up well to cooking and quickly loses its flavor.  Is that not the case?

For what it's worth, there's a restaurant here in San Diego that does avocado tempura. Decadently delicious, though it's so rich that I only order it if I have a companion to share it with because I can't finish an order on my own.

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Dave -

I would like to know about the places available to live in your area (well, in all honestly my fiance would like to know). Also - more about how your wife and you stumbled across the place that you call home. Greg the fiance, has been talking of "just picking up and moving to London, France, somewhere other than this place".

Although Greg (said fiance) loves Chicago, he dreams of leaving his job (where he sells paper...not really but printing services and distribution for R.R Donnelley. He makes great money as an account manager but that doesn't make give him any sort of fulfilling feeling that he is seeking. For one year he would love to leave the job and just move, work and live over-seas. Greg has asked me many times "Linz, would you? Move somewhere out fo the country to get away from it all?". I, of course say I would love to. Difficult to give up a condo that we own int he city, store all of our stuff, leave a wonderful job for Greg (me, I am almost done with grad school for education) and all that hassle, Greg dreams of it and I would simply love the adventure.

So - in all seriousness - how did you and your wife end up finding/buying your current place where you live? I am so foreign to all of this - unfortunately haven't had the pleasure of traveling to places that are far and/or different from this home I know as America (I have, however, lived in New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and IL...so at least I have moved "around" the United States...haha).

I cannot wait to see what your response is, and to show Greg in the morning (he is out now for a big event that he plans yearly with his best college buddies - the Leasure Sports Decathlon, which goes all day from 11AM till whenever they can make it out (yes, they drink throughout the event....LONG day and large hang-overs tomorrow!...this year is the fifth consecutive year..these boys are a funny bunch I tell you.

Sorry for all that blah blah-ness - I tend to start and just keep going and going. I type like I talk...A LOT and FAST!


Edited by LindsayAnn (log)

"One Hundred Years From Now It Will Not Matter What My Bank Account Was, What Kind of House I lived in, or What Kind of Car I Drove, But the World May Be A Better Place Because I Was Important in the Life of A Child."

LIFES PHILOSOPHY: Love, Live, Laugh

hmmm - as it appears if you are eating good food with the ones you love you will be living life to its fullest, surely laughing and smiling throughout!!!

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Dave, I just want to let you know I made my first Salad Nicoise today and it was fabulous. I'm looking for the lunch thread to post pics of my wonderful salad. Thank you very much, maraming salamat!


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Thank you for the photojournalism. The virtual tours are fine viewing and reading. One of today's lessons for me is that Occitan is a living language. I only read the word a couple of years ago, and had assumed it was a defunct Medieval tongue! So.. does it bear much resemblance to modern French? Is it a language that people are actively working to preserve, or is it so well-rooted that it isn't threatened? I'd like to ask more, but even with the wide scope of the foodblog perhaps I'd best hie off to an encyclopedia. Maybe you can talk about how food terms differ in Occitan vs. French, or whether the Occitan speakers tend toward different food traditions.

Upthread there was some discussion about getting the proper wines for certain foods without the American obsession on "pairing wines" with food. It sounds less fussy over there. Can you talk a bit about whether there's much variety in styles of given wines there? For instance: if one wants a nice crisp white wine here in the States, it isn't enough to just say "sauvignon blanc". You have to decide whether you want one that's been oaked, or that hasn't had so much as a toothpick near it. Then you can start deciding where it should come from. In my limited experience in France, the table wine was a simple, well-balanced red (or white) - not worthy of note, but very drinkable and inexpensive, no matter where we went. Was that simplicity a result of our cheap travel method, or of a cultural difference between the countries?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Dave -

I would like to know about the places available to live in your area (well, in all honestly my fiance would like to know). Also - more about how your wife and you stumbled across the place that you call home. Greg the fiance, has been talking of "just picking up and moving to London, France, somewhere other than this place".

Although Greg (said fiance) loves Chicago, he dreams of leaving his job (where he sells paper...not really but printing services and distribution for R.R Donnelley. He makes great money as an account manager but that doesn't make give him any sort of fulfilling feeling that he is seeking. For one year he would love to leave the job and just move, work and live over-seas. Greg has asked me many times "Linz, would you? Move somewhere out fo the country to get away from it all?". I, of course say I would love to. Difficult to give up a condo that we own int he city, store all of our stuff, leave a wonderful job for Greg (me, I am almost done with grad school for education) and all that hassle, Greg dreams of it and I would simply love the adventure.

So - in all seriousness - how did you and your wife end up finding/buying your current place where you live? I am so foreign to all of this - unfortunately haven't had the pleasure of traveling to places that are far and/or different from this home I know as America (I have, however, lived in New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and IL...so at least I have moved "around" the United States...haha). 

I cannot wait to see what your response is, and to show Greg in the morning (he is out now for a big event that he plans yearly with his best college buddies - the Leasure Sports Decathlon, which goes all day from 11AM till whenever they can make it out (yes, they drink throughout the event....LONG day and large hang-overs tomorrow!...this year is the fifth consecutive year..these boys are a funny bunch I tell you.

Sorry for all that blah blah-ness - I tend to start and just keep going and going. I type like I talk...A LOT and FAST!

At the risk of getting too far off topic I'll give you a short answer here. If you like we can carry on via PM's afterwards.

The big issue you would find in trying to spend a year or more in France or anywhere in the EEC is that of getting a job. To get one you need to speak the local language and be able to get a work visa. (there are lots of illegal immigrants in the EEC, but I don't think you want to go that route) The Uk might be your best bet as you speak the language, sort of. However, the UK is very different from France. The normal way to get a work visa is via an employer who will sponsor you. Finding such an employer mostly means having a special skill that they need.

When I was working I was for my first term of living in Europe sponsored by my American employer who wanted to set up a European office in Brussels & asked me to do it. I then went to England, this time sponsored by an English company. From there it was easy to start my own company and, later, establish other companies. Because by then I had both special skills & experience it was easy for me to get a visa.

Now that I'm retired it was easy to get a visa as all I had to do was prove that I was financially viable & wouldn't be a burden upon the state. Also, we found out later, since Linda is a British citizen I as her husband automatically qualify for EEC residency.

We chose the SW of France for a lot of reasons and in the end choosing Parisot was finding the right house in a place that met our goals.

Trying to come over here and live for a year is very possible if you can save up the money to live on. Or can find a (legal) way to support yourselves.

PM me & I will answer more fully.

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So.. does it bear much resemblance to modern French? Is it a language that people are actively working to preserve, or is it so well-rooted that it isn't threatened? I'd like to ask more, but even with the wide scope of the foodblog perhaps I'd best hie off to an encyclopedia. Maybe you can talk about how food terms differ in Occitan vs. French, or whether the Occitan speakers tend toward different food traditions.

I think Occitan is pretty safe, but to be sure it is now being taught in schools at the elementary level.

The food terms are quite different as are the languages. Occitan has the same roots as Catalan. I think the food traditions in SW France are primarily Occitan since the 'French' (Northerners that is) are relatively newcomers. As far as I know, today, there is no local difference in the foods eaten & the way they are prepared between speakers of the two languages. But, its hard to tell since most of the older generation (my age) spoke Occitan at home & only learned French when they went to school.

I can certainly say that their accent is very different. I have trouble understanding many of them. I'm much better with Parisiens.

Upthread there was some discussion about getting the proper wines for certain foods without the American obsession on "pairing wines" with food. It sounds less fussy over there. Can you talk a bit about whether there's much variety in styles of given wines there?

Yes, there are huge differences in style within a given appellation. Since until recently almost all French wine was a blend of grapes from the region so you had differences in the amount of each type of grape in the blend; then there are the stylistic differences between the individual wine makers and then the differences caused by the various aging methods.

For example, we drink a lot of Cahors since its grown near us. They are 'all' hearty reds, but range from paint stripping tannin levels to mild full bodied blends even though of the same vintage and from estates within a few miles of each other.

Here you get to know the appellations so as to know what to expect in general just as in the states you get to know the varietals. Then as you say you have to go further within the appellations to learn the styles of particular vineyards.

Not easy, but the learning process sure is fun.

In my limited experience in France, the table wine was a simple, well-balanced red (or white) - not worthy of note, but very drinkable and inexpensive, no matter where we went. Was that simplicity a result of our cheap travel method, or of a cultural difference between the countries?

Not sure why the difference. You are certainly right in the the table wine here is fine. The vin ordinaire you buy in restaurants (or that comes as part of a set price meal) is almost always very drinkable. Usually its either local or is bought by long standing arrangement. It certainly wasn't your cheap travel. Yesterday, at Belcastel I ordered the upmarket equivalent of their house wine (20 Euros each). As I mentioned both were superb.

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Wow, I've got to say that is one weird menu. Potatoes with chopped oysters, shrimp with applesauce, zut! Some of the combinations just floor me, and the fact that you had all that in a tiny village is another wow. Very educational and timely, this blog.

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Semi-ruined chateaus and mysterious old roads... man! Hide a big, ol' wireless hub in that church steeple and we'll populate that valley with eGullet people!  Think of the dinner parties?!

I second that!


Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Ok, Sunday night and time for my last food blog post. (of course I will continue to answer any questions & respond as appropriate.)

I am both amazed and delighted that roughly 9,000 of you chose to take a look at my blog. (of course I looked myself at least 8.999 times) I appreciate all of the kind comments and perceptive questions. I've done my best to respond.

There are other things about food, cooking and living in France that I'd like to share. I just ran out of time not to mention the fact that Linda, who has been incredibly patient throughout this week, would like to get some time on the computer. Some other time perhaps.

Just remember that its all about taste & enjoyment.

I leave you with a last image:

gallery_28661_4844_1834.jpg

The mystery object's little brother!! Twins!


Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)

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Wow, I've got to say that is one weird menu.  Potatoes with chopped oysters, shrimp with applesauce, zut!  Some of the combinations just floor me, and the fact that you had all that in a tiny village is another wow.  Very educational and timely, this blog.

Abra, I don't think 'weird' is quite the right adjective to describe the Belcastel menu.

The chef would probably prefer 'innovative'. Here's what I think she was trying to achieve.

The veal trotters are a very mild flavor. Shrimp a bit more flavorsome & often served with citrus. Voila! Grapefruit for a change, But the grapefruit is too strong & needs a carrier. Enter the mashed potato. Thus some logic to the dish.

I didn't have it so can't comment personally, but those who did pronounced it delicious.

Its not all that unusual to serve white fish, cod in this case, with shell fish, oysters in this case. These oysters were chopped up & mixed with mashed potato then formed into little balls. They were then skewered with whole potato pieces & browned.

I did have this dish & can say that the oyster/potato mix complimented my perfectly sauteed cod beautifully, but subtly. I'd eat it again given the opportunity and am even inspired enough that I might try to cook this dish

You are going to have a ball eating weird food over here!

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Paul and I think that the "little brother" is for clamping tubing, and perhaps a more confortable corkscrew!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Wow, I've got to say that is one weird menu.  Potatoes with chopped oysters, shrimp with applesauce, zut!  Some of the combinations just floor me, and the fact that you had all that in a tiny village is another wow.  Very educational and timely, this blog.

Abra, I don't think 'weird' is quite the right adjective to describe the Belcastel menu.

The chef would probably prefer 'innovative'. Here's what I think she was trying to achieve.

The veal trotters are a very mild flavor. Shrimp a bit more flavorsome & often served with citrus. Voila! Grapefruit for a change, But the grapefruit is too strong & needs a carrier. Enter the mashed potato. Thus some logic to the dish.

I didn't have it so can't comment personally, but those who did pronounced it delicious.

Its not all that unusual to serve white fish, cod in this case, with shell fish, oysters in this case. These oysters were chopped up & mixed with mashed potato then formed into little balls. They were then skewered with whole potato pieces & browned.

I did have this dish & can say that the oyster/potato mix complimented my perfectly sauteed cod beautifully, but subtly. I'd eat it again given the opportunity and am even inspired enough that I might try to cook this dish

You are going to have a ball eating weird food over here!

I will be in France (Gordes) in September. I'm looking forward to eating as much food, weird or not as I can possibly manage. I do have to agree that the menu looked "different" but I love that. Thank you for enhancing my trip with all of the beautiful views of the French countryside.

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gallery_28661_4844_39592.jpg

[...all sorts of, um, interesting stuff going on, as has already been noted. Still...]

gallery_28661_4844_9969.jpg

And, you guessed it! Chocolate three ways.

My French has gotten all rusty and barnacled over the decades since I took it in high school, but it looks like the "all dark chocolate" dessert has some sort of sweet-and-savory, sweet-and-pungent riffs going on.

Mousse with Szechuan peppercorns? Chocolate creme with fleur de sel (sea salt, right?)?

How were those two?

You live in lovely country in a country I've always been fond of; the cheese and wine more than make up for the chauvinism (which, after all, was a French invention). I'm sorry I never did get to France after a group tour to Paris in high school got cancelled. Maybe I should become reacquainted with the language and get over there already.

Thank you for sharing a delightful week with us. And please keep the cheeses coming!


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Great blog!! Thanks so much, I really enjoyed it.

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David, thank you for the amazing journey into your adopted countryside. I enjoyed every minute of your blogging and wish it could go on for at least another week. :biggrin:

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David, thank you for the amazing journey into your adopted countryside. I enjoyed every minute of your blogging and wish it could go on for at least another week.  :biggrin:

Wot she said. Merci! Encore!


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Wonderful blog! Brings back lots of happy memories of traveling in rural France. Thank you so much!


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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David, thank you for the amazing journey into your adopted countryside. I enjoyed every minute of your blogging and wish it could go on for at least another week.  :biggrin:

It can't have been a week already? Sheesh how time flies when you are totally engrossed in a blog. :wub:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Dave thanks for the adventure!


**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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:biggrin:

Most delightful. Thank you. Please blog again, and soon: I can't see enough of this.

:biggrin:


Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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Ditto - it has been a wonderful read.

Hope to see you again soon on the cheese thread - Lindsay, where are you these days?

I am at the Fancy Food Show in NYC this week and there is a lot of good cheese around!

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