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eG Foodblog: Abra and Chufi in SW France - Tantalizing Tales of Tripe

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All hail Chufi, the Yoda of food photography!

Just for you, of course, we tried out the new Champagne. The first thing you see is this


the cool little thingie on top of the cork. Actually, I think it's a picture of a bottle filling machine, and just seeing it makes me happy. Then next, there's this


Four of our six precious, hand-delivered bottles. And for a shockingly good price, too. Because


this stuff is absolutely delicious. Tiny, fine bubbles,a perfectly balanced acidity, not quite bone dry with just the lightest hint of fruit. Really wonderful. Even better with peanut doodles. If you ever saw my post on French junk food you know that it's world class. Now that Chufi has discovered these peanut doodles she's scheming how to fit a pile of them into her luggage. You'd think she'd be begging me for some Champagne to take home, but no. It's peanut doodles or bust. We'll be going back to the supermarket so she can stock up, it's a sure point on our itinerary.

I want to answer a couple of questions before we go and roast the marrow bones. About the truffles, yes, I too had always heard that they couldn't be cultivated. But here people do plant trees that are thought to be favorable to truffles, and they do water them to encourage truffle growth. Maybe there's some more alchemy involved. I'm going to do further research on this point, since of course I need an excuse to eat more truffles, but that's all I know thus far. It's not all wild pigs rooting about while crusty old guys hide beneath their favorite trees.

Then there's the question of regional foods. I don't know many neighbors yet, but my strong impression is that, much like at home, cooking with regional ingredients is pretty close to regional cooking. The use of walnuts, duck, goat cheeses, goose fat, guinea hen, rabbit, and olive oil, are pretty universal. There's not a fish market in our town, but there's always a line at the weekly fish vendor's stand, for Mediterranean fish that I seldom recognize and haven't yet learned to cook. Snails are popular, and a month ago there were cèpes and girolle mushrooms everywhere. They've been replaced by foie gras and chestnuts. So that's a long way of saying that the typical South Western array of ingredients are available, even if I'm not yet sure how the average local cook uses them all.

And now, Chufi's gotten the cake out of the pan, always a sticky moment. The oxtails need another dose of wine and I need to get a chunk of ham ready to go in with them. The salad for the marrow bones needs making. In other words, we've got to cook in order to blog! See you in a while.

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As Hathor said:

And thank you all for sharing this amazing culinary adventure with us. Tonight, in all our different time zones, we raise a glass to these wonderful, wacky women!

In this case a special blue mug of gluhwein, while watching western New York get hit with MANY little flakes. A good day to stay in, make Christmas cookies, decorate a bit and of course read of the French food exploits of such great cooks, eaters and bloggers.

Thanks for adding to the holidays.

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Abra, thanks for the gracious response to my question about regional cooking. I was thinking about the eager use you three were making of local ingredients and Paula Wolfert's cookbook which Busboy has also consulted with spectacular results--wondering about the extent to which tradition is perpetuated locally on a day-to-day basis. I kind of suspect the paen to peanut doodles also answers my question, if indirectly! :biggrin:

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Thanks for adding to the holidays.

Indeed. This is a fabulous lead-in to the holidays! What stands out for me is the warmth, camaraderie, and celebration with which this has been written.

And, IMHO, that's what the holidays should be ALL about.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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As the Brits like to say: "my ears are burning!" Thanks to you all for all your kind words. They are deeply appreciated. I don't know what to add except to say how much I enjoy the comradeship and warmth generated here among us egulleteers.[

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I have been mostly away from dear eGullet for the last months, but saw a reference to this blog on Abra's own. What a treat! I've been keeping up with Abra and Lucy via their blogs, but missing Clary and all the rest of you. It feels like a homecoming, but I'm still here in my home -- weird, the online world.

Thank you for the glimpse into your cooking and visiting.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Chufi: "What's that smell??"

Abra: " Well, I don't know, it smells really fishy!"

Chufi: "Is that a good thing?"

Abra: "Let's wash them and then roast them in a very hot oven, we'll be okay."


Chufi: "Are these done? Fergus Henderson says 15 minutes, right?"

Abra: "Yeah, let's just spread it on toast."


Abra & Chufi: "I guess this is not done yet. It's bloody and yucky."

In unison: "Eeeeewwww!!!! Ugh! Beurk! Getver!! Gross!!"

But, we take our bone marrow seriously. So we just scoop it out, smear it on toast, put it back in the oven, cover it up with parsley salad, and eat.

And it was delicious. And it went perfectly with the Champagne.


After that: oxtail ragout with chestnuts, ham and Toulouse sausage. It was rich and flavorfull and delicious. The recipe came from the book Goose Fat & Garlic by Jeanne Strang, and we served it with a Dutch stamppot of potatoes and raw Belgian endive. We took the meat off the bones before serving, but ofcourse, there are always people who will not be deprived of some atavistic bone gnawing.



Now we're just about ready for a slice of something sweet. See you in a bit.

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But, we take our bone marrow seriously. So we just scoop it out, smear it on toast, put it back in the oven, cover it up with parsley salad, and eat.

And it was delicious. And it went perfectly with the Champagne.



Great save and thank you both (+ bleudauvergne) for a wonderful blog!

edited to add: Happy to see also that you have inspired some old time egulleteers to peek back in too!

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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We really hoped that Pille would be able to come join us for this blog, but she wasn't able to make it.  Thus we find Chufi in the kitchen making a Pille apple cake, which we plan to dust with spekulaas crumbs that Chufi brought from Amsterdam.  Of course she brought whole cookies, not crumbs, but you know what I mean.

Dear Klary and Abra - I am sorry, too, that I couldn't join you in France and for this blog - you seem to be having loads of fun! And sorry for almost missing this food blog - I get to spend very little time behind my PC these days. You see, I'm doing an internship in one of the best restaurants here in Tallinn (no career change planned, I am very happy teaching & researching at the university, but I got this chance and had to grab it), which is also the reason for postponing our trip to France. I've just returned from yet another long shift, with my feet and back hurting :unsure: Not used to stand up 10 hours in one go!!!

In any case, I'm looking forward to hearing about the apple cake!! It got rave reviews on my blog, and has been in my cake baking repertoire for some 20 years, so it better be a success :):laugh:

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I see the feast continues. I am dreaming of bone marrow, oxtails and champagne, while we make due with spinach and eggs and the walnut tartelettes prepared in your honor. That mill/bakery looked like a great find. How was the bread? Nothing short of stupendous, I'm sure. :smile:

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)
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Cookie, anyone? These spekulaas are so good that we had to include them in the cake (sorry, Pille) so Chufi bravely reduced them to crumbs before scattering them over the batter. Sorry again, Pille, but we didn't have the right pan.


The cake had a lovely, breakfasty crumb, which means that much as we enjoyed it tonight, we'll enjoy it all over again tomorrow morning when we don't have to go to the bakery.


As if we hadn't already had enough to drink we had a glass of Lucy's homemade vin de noix with the cake, a delightful pairing that finished off the evening perfectly.


And so, if I can pry Chufi's head up off the desktop, we're off to bed. She's not actually snoring, but perhaps the influence of all these gelatinous foods is affecting her. At any rate, we're pooped, and we're outta here for the night. A demain and tot morgen.

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Wow, and wow again. Thank you for the beautiful and witty writing, glorious photos, and glimpses into a different world! The food looks glorious, and like Lucy, I'm dreaming of bone marrow, ox tails and champagne. I'm with lancastermike on this one: how can anyone top this blog?

Congratulations on selling an article, Abra!

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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What a wonderful week. Makes me wish I was returning to France sooner. Ah well, Lyon & Carcassonne will have to wait until September. :sad:


This is probably my favorite picture ever on eG. We're just missing Lucy ....


Best food picture EVER!

Thanks you guys! It's been grand. And the number of long-time-no-post members that came out for this one speaks volumes.


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The cake had a lovely, breakfasty crumb, which means that much as we enjoyed it tonight, we'll enjoy it all over again tomorrow morning when we don't have to go to the bakery.


As if we hadn't already had enough to drink we had a glass of Lucy's homemade vin de noix with the cake, a delightful pairing that finished off the evening perfectly.

Looks just right - moist and crumbly. Good job! For anyone else out there keen to bake the cake, then here's the recipe for my Canadian apple cake. :raz:

I'm off to my penultimate shift at the restaurant..

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Pille's cake made a delicious breakfast, even better than it was last night. I love cakes like that.

The oxtail was braised in wine and aromatics for about three hours, then simmered with an herbed Toulouse sausage, some of our Basque ham, and a heap of chestnuts. It's a very nice recipe, one I'd recommend to anyone.

Daddy-A, you might want to rethink the Carcassonne part of your trip. It's more touristical than almost any other place I've been in Europe. Quite sad, we found it.

So now it's a sunny, cold, and windy morning and Chufi and I are off to get vegetables. We're going to chez Alice where good things are always to be found. We'll be back with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber portion of this blog after a short pause.

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And speaking of the secret vegetable club, because we've been besieged with requests to keep the blog alive, and because tomorrow is in fact Vegetable Morning, we'll be ending the blog sometime tomorrow, and not tonight.  So you can sleep sweetly, secure in the knowledge that we'll still be here in the morning.

We need a happy dance smiley!! I am doing it right here in my chair in Richmond, VA wishing I was in France!!! This is like a novel you wish would never, ever end! Thank you so much, ladies for your generosity!


I am snoopy dancing with joy (head thrown back, eyes closed and arms outstretched whirling in happiness). :smile:

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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I wasn't able to get near a computer yesterday, and it was KILLING me....thinking about what you were up to! Oh my, my, my.

I think that I'm in love with Beppo. Is he bilingual now? Our cats are completely fluent, especially when food is involved.

Beppo understands my Dutch perfectly. So I guess he's just a very very smart cat! :smile:

We're just about ready to go to the vegetable club. Doesn't that sound amazing, to have your own private vegetable club?

We'll report back in a bit and then I'll be about ready for some final thoughts about France, bones, and offal.

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This has been truly heartwarming. So many of my favorite themes in one place: cooking, friendship, champagne, and food, all that glorious food. How I wish I could have seen that chestnut dessert you had...and chestnuts with oxtail stew...chestnuts are my absolute favorite; I must add them to my next stew... :wub:

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Now this looks like it could be just any gate in France, but it's the gate to the secret vegetables!

Amongst the olive trees


are greenhouses with vegetables and herbs.


A surprising amount of vegetables was up for sale, considering the fact that it's december and cold:





There was a funny atmosphere of ladies all being very friendly to eachother, yet furtively looking around and at the vegetables, and only stopping to chat after they loaded up their baskets and bags with the biggest cauliflower, the juiciest carrots, the most vibrant broccoli.

Here's our haul:


In the small bowl are dried cèpes, that the vegetable lady gave to Abra and the other lady from the town who had come with us. I noticed that some of the other customers weren't getting any! :wink:


The eternal chickenbroth from the poule au pot, enriched with pureed squash, sprinkled with piment d'Espelette. And some leftover cheese...


With our bellies full of warming soup, we're ready to go out into the sunny but cold day again. We'll be back with a final little surprise for you all...

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