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eG Foodblog - Dave Hatfield, La France Profonde


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Well, here I am again. It’s been just over 5 years since I last did a food blog. I’m excited and looking forward to doing this one just as I was in 2007!

First, an update in general:

We’re all well; Linda, Rupert and I. I’ve had a couple of minor strokes, but the magnificent French medical system saw me through those with no permanent damage. We’re still living in France and still loving it. We have moved though; all of about 6 miles.

Our farmhouse was just too big and too expensive to run so we sold it. Linda & I now dance a little jig when the energy bills come in. It makes up for the lousy exchange rates! Our ‘new’ house is modern and somewhat smaller than the farmhouse. We still have 1 ½ acres, a pool and plenty of room. We are extremely happy with the move.

Our ‘new’ village is just great very friendly. It’s unusual in that it’s actually laid out on a square grid. 400 year old town planning in action. We have a good village shop/ bakery. They made a really nice whole grain loaf in addition to all the normal sizes & shapes of French loaves. We also have small restaurant. Not likely to get any Michelin stars, but one can get a nice meal. They make a wonderful bread pudding. Our newest addition is a small food boutique, only open two days a week. They sell only local produce, fruits, vegetables, sun flower oil, pates, fois gras, a bit of wine and a few herbs. Local enterprise at its most local. I make a point of going in every week. More later, but let’s talk about food.

I’ll start by going to the Sunday market in Saint Antonin Noble Val. St Antonin is a very old, very beautiful town right on the Aveyron river about 15 minutes away. Their Sunday market is great, but to be avoided during the summer months due to the crowds and lack of parking. Once we get to October the crowds thin out and the locals return to shop & to gossip. Gossiping being the great French pastime as it is in most countries.

I’ll post about the market visit with pictures separately.

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Thought I'd quickly explain the teaser photos for you;

- The tomatoes were ready to go into the oven to become oven-dried. I made a lot of them as once they were put into jars with olive oil, garlic, H de P and chili they were to be sold at a local charity event. Made nearly $100 for Cancer Research.

- The duck as several of you guessed. This was a demonstration by a local duck farmer showing how one could use all parts of the duck. It was held in the Salle des Fetes and attended by about 50 people.

- The casoulette. Not too hard to spot. I thought it was very clever for somebody to try & spot me by the type of granite counter top. Wouldn't have worked as we've moved so the counter top is different.

- It's a tatin, but nobody guessed that it is a pear tatin. Worth trying in place of the traditional apple veriety.

- The wines were a dead giveaway weren't they? Cahouzac-sur-Vere is a village in the Gaillac region which is not far away from us. They make some great wine. This isn't one of them. The 11 refers to the alcohol content. 11% is low which is one reason why the price is low. Wine is taxed on alcohol content.

- Well, anybody in eGullet who likes cheeses probably know that I'm a cheese fanatic. The other picture is of Albi, not far away and a great place.

- The view out our front gate then a picture of our village. You can actually see our house. Its the highest one towards the top right of the picture.

Judging from the response to my last food blog a number of you will have questions about France that aren't strictly food related. I'd be happy to answer those if you send me a PM or pose them on my normal blog.

Market later today.

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I had planned to go to St Antonin market today, take pictures and do a bit of cooking; all for this blog.

Instead I got persuaded to go to Monesties and then to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. This took us past Cordes and some beautiful wine country. Here's the story:

What's in Monesties? Let's see

.horses group.JPG. A horse show! Lots of very nice horses.

naughty boy.JPG. This naughty boy was chewing & eating his rope.

Of course there were ponies for the children to ride.

ponies.JPG.

And saddles & other tack for sale. tack.JPG

This wouldn't be France if there wasn't food!

tables.JPG

repas.JPG sausage.JPG

Toulouse sausage & sauteed potatoes with herbs & garlic plus I'm sure there would be cheese & a desert not to mention wine all making a nice meal. We were tempted, but our restaurant beckoned.

We left Monesties and headed for Cordes.

cordes.JPG.

Cordes is a terrific hill top village with spectacular views across the countryside. No stopping today though, we pressed onward.

We did stop to see if the vendange (grape harvest) was still going on, but fortunately it had finished. I say fortunately because we had light rain today.

In any case after passing lots of vineyards we reached our destination, Cestayrols, where we had booked lunch.

Our lunch will be the topic of my next post which will follow shortly.

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Cestayrols is a small village, maybe 500 people if its lucky. It's pretty and is located smack in the middle of the Gaillac wine region. This is one of the oldest wine making regions in France dating from at least Roman times if not earlier. Gaillac has over 6,000 acres of vines under cultivation.

For whatever reason Cestayrols has a really nice restaurant. You's almost never find it if you didn't know it was there. In fact I did pass it by for a long time as I did drive almost past it on my way to my favorite golf course. We finally saw it, tried it & loved it. Here's their web address: http://restaurant.loucantoun.fr/.

restaurant.JPG rest sign.JPG

menu.JPG

The menus are clearer on their website than in my picture.

Some of you may recall that I'm vehemently opposed to taking pictures in restaurants so I didn't take any inside this time even though I'm doing this blog. I'll do my best to describe our meal.

We started with a little amuse of rounds of toast topped in one case by aubergine (eggplant) caviar and in the other case by foie gras. Very nice and just the thing to get the taste buds going.

We both had the Coquilles St Jacques (scallop) as our entre. These were lightly grilled, served on their shells and accompanied by finely diced vegetables. The flavors blended well and they went well with the house white wine. (We'd just ordered a glass each as we did have to drive home.)

Our plat (main course) was roasted pigeon. Its been a long time since I've had pigeon so it was a real treat. The pigeon was served over creamed potatoes & a melange of vegetables. The baby fresh garlic in the mix was a nice & tasty touch. With this course we'd ordered a half bottle of Galian from Domaine Chanade, 2004. This local and one of our favorite wineries.

We then had a plate of three cheeses. Linda particularly liked the homemade onion comfit that come with the cheese.

We parted company at desert. I had a lemon tart which was square & served with very thin dried lemon slices in addition to the lemon cream. I'm a lemon pie freak and rated this one as about 7 out of 10. Linda had the profiteroles. Spectacularly good in her opinion! She claimed they were the best she'd ever had. She graciously let me have a bite & I must say they were super.

All in all a very satisfying lunch and a satisfying Sunday.

I may do another post later if I can stay awake that is.

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Thanks for blogging Dave. Those huge almost flat pans of sausage and of potatoes certainly look inviting. Is that a common cooking vessel for street fair food? Butane? Your meal sounds lovely and inviting. I am sure we would enjoy some kitchen shots as well.

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OK, some quick & easy recipes before I go to bed.

The fall is an interesting timer for soups. The weather can be either hot or cold, but the nice thing about these soups is that they too can be served hot or cold.

All three require a good quality stock as a base. Chicken stock for those who eat meats or vegetable stock for those who don't.

They all also require that one chop up an onion and sweat it gently in butter (oil if you must).

#! is leek and celeriac. Chop up the white & some of the green parts of several leeks. Sweat the leeks with the butter & onion. Meanwhile peel the celeriac and cut it into about 1/2 inch chunks.

Add the stock to the onion & leek mixture then add the celeriac chunks. Simmer until the celeriac is soft (about 10-15 minutes). Turn off the heat & let the soup cool for a bit then puree it using a blender. I use my stick blender so the clean up is easier.

Serve the soup hot or put it in the fridge for several hours or overnight to serve cold. In either case stir in a dollop of cream just before serving. This one is Linda's favorite.

#2 is courgette (zucchini) and watercress. Again sweat the onion, add the stock then put in the courgette which you've chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. Cook until the courgette is just soft (about 5 minutes). Let cool for 10-15 minutes then add the chopped up watercress. Puree the lot & serve hot or cold.with a swirl of cream added. This is a great way to use up all those courgettes you grew & can't even give away.

#3 is cucumber & avocado. This one really is best cold. Anyway, same deal sweat the onion, add the stock, simmer the cucumbers briefly, just enough to soften them. Let cool then add the avocado which you've cut into chunks. This soup benefits from having quite a lot of cream added. Its my favorite and is a must try.

There you go. Some simple recipes to get you going.Its not too late to try one of them today given the time differential. Brownie points for anyone who does try.

I'm off to bed. More in the morning.

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Heidih

Quick answers. The big flat pans of common for such events. More normally in this area they use them for making paella.

Yes, the meal was great. And, yes, you're certainly going to get some kitchen shots. Both of them in fact; thet's kitchens not shots.

You might even get some pictorial recipes.

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Wow. very wonderful. I appreciate your reluctance to take pics of your food in the restaurant setting. Should you go into other restaurants or food shops would you consider some pics of the places themselves? with permission of course?

Much appreciated.

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Thanks for all the kind words. I'll do my best to live up to them

The 'teaser photos' are over in food blogs, coming attractions.

The Euro's over valuation has definitely had an effect on we ex-pats whose income is in $, £'s or whatever. Things are more expensive in those terms. For the normal population the Euro crisis has helped cause high unemployment and a general tightening of belts. Our area is mainly economically driven by agriculture so things aren't bad.

There will be lots of pictures as the week progresses. Maybe some some of & in shops, but none I'm afraid taken inside restaurants. Sorry!

I'm going to the Hypermarket today & I'll take some pics there.

If anybody wants to follow & cook our main dinner course tonight you'll need some chicken thighs, mushrooms, cream and tarragon.

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She who must be obeyed hinted that I should do some pictures of my kitchen. Here they are, both of them.

We inhereted kitchen #1 when we bought the house. Fortunately it is a nice kitchen.

k 1-1.JPG Here's our main open plan kitchen. Interestingly the French call this open style of kitchen an American kitchen. No idea why.

k1-2.JPG You can see that our hob is on the right with the sink & dishwasher at the far end. The hob is an induction type which I've learned to use if not love. I'd still prefer gas, but it would have been very difficult to intalll.

k1-3.JPG k1-4.JPG

Here's our drawer type fridge. This is great, but lacks space and has no freezer at all. Because of this and for summer use when I use the BBQ most of the time we've added our second kitchen with the BBQ right outside.

k2-1.JPG k2-2.JPG

k2-3.JPG k2-5.JPG

As you can see there's a fridge/freezer, a two burner hob, a dishwasher, a sink and quite a lot of extra cupboard space. The whole kitchen is from IKEA by the way. It also has the washer and dryer.

k2-4.JPG

The most important function of this fridge is to keep our everyday house wine cool. As you can see its a chardonnay. The region is in the Minervois and is near Carcassonne. Its cheap at 13.20€ for the 5 liter box, but is more then OK.

So, there you have our kitchens. Ideally we would have one larger kitchen, but we did want to downsize. These serve us well. I've cooked for up to 14 people without difficulty.

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Last time I blogged here I gave everybody a small challenge with a Mystery picture. It was fun so I'm going to do it again.

The challenge is to give me the name and function of the object pictured below.

As a hint it is a culinary object.

DSC_0001.JPG

The prize for being the first to give both the name & the function is dinner for you & yours at our house. All you have to do is get here.

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Last time I blogged here I gave everybody a small challenge with a Mystery picture. It was fun so I'm going to do it again.

The challenge is to give me the name and function of the object pictured below.

As a hint it is a culinary object.

DSC_0001.JPG

The prize for being the first to give both the name & the function is dinner for you & yours at our house. All you have to do is get here.

Mu first thought was that it was a one of those old-fashioned solid burners from an electric stove, then I noticed the handle, which makes it look like it might be a baking surface for some sort of flat bread, a bit like tigelle.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Last time I blogged here I gave everybody a small challenge with a Mystery picture. It was fun so I'm going to do it again.

The challenge is to give me the name and function of the object pictured below.

As a hint it is a culinary object.

DSC_0001.JPG

The prize for being the first to give both the name & the function is dinner for you & yours at our house. All you have to do is get here.

It's a salamander.

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Gosh, well done! My mystery object turned out to be not much of a mystery.

When can we expect you for dinner?

I'll have to think hard and see what else I can come up with.

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