My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

From the ruins come the sweetest berries

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As I was walking along the river yesterday, I passed by one of my favorite ruins. The gardens of the beautiful mansion haven’t been tended to in years and they are covered in brambles. So from what looks like a dark and desolate place come, in August, some of my favorite berries: wild blackberries. They have a much stronger and sweeter taste than the American ones (at least than the ones I have tasted). I went home to grab a basket and my camera and came back for a late afternoon harvest.

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I always thought there was something romantic about picking one’s own fruits and vegetables. I think it’s even better when they to grow wild. My goal for this fall is to learn how to find and pick my own mushrooms. At least with wild produce, there is no doubt about it being organic or not.

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I intended to make a pie with the berries, but I waited too long (24 hours) and by the time I was ready to start working on the pie, I realized I had eaten half of what I’d pick… So no pie today, but if you want a good recipe for a classic French pie using any berries, just go read my strawberry pie post here: Stéphane’s strawberry pie.

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Two days in heaven with my angels…

Cap Ferret

Let me start by saying this: I HATE the beach. I hate it with a force. I’m allergic to the sun and don’t get me started on sand getting everywhere. Why people would want to eat on the beach, for example, is beyond me. THAT BEING SAID though, I love to sail, I am a seafood eating machine AND, best of all, all my nephews spend most of July every year in Cap Ferret. This is a great opportunity for me to see all of them at once. You know I’m a single guy without kids, so my 19 nieces and nephews are everything to me.

So on Sunday, I loaded the car with toys and headed for the coast. Two days in heaven with my angels! And don’t be fooled by the angelic faces by the way. Some of them can be a handful :0)

We went for walks, boat rides at sunset and had the best oysters and fish and ice-cold chardonnay and…

I took hundreds of pictures of course and didn’t get a chance to sort through them all. Here are a few that I hope you’ll enjoy.

Note: if you see Barbie, please tell her I have found her missing boot!

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Of eggs, black truffles and my family tree…

Eggs with truffles

It seems that with every new recipe, I introduce yet another one of my grandmothers; and so today, I want to dedicate this post to my great-great-grandmother Petronille. She was born in our family farm in Dordogne in 1865. Funny to think that we had had the farm for 2 centuries already when she was born. Petronille and her husband (with her in the photo) had a few cows as well as sheep. The farm was (still is) surrounded by deep woods in which truffles grew below the centennial oaks and the chestnut trees. I don’t know if Petronille used a hog or a dog to find her truffles, that part of the story has been lost, but she was famous for making all sorts of fantastic truffle dishes. My great-grandfather whom I had the chance to know well (he passed when I was 10 at the age of 98), would tell wonderful tales of Petronille’s soft-boiled eggs with truffles. We called my great-grandfather “Papy”. He’s the man with the white hair and the beret in the photo. With him are my great-grandmother Manée who you already know and my grandmother on the right who passed 4 years ago at the tender age of 101…

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Pierre (my cheesemonger) and I were talking about truffles the other day. I was telling him that I wish I had access to fresh truffles year round. Indeed, truffles are harvested in December, January and February. After that, you can only get them in jars. They taste very good, but it is nothing like the fresh stuff. Pierre told me that he keeps a few for himself  every year and freezes them. When he needs some for pasta or eggs or even a home-made paté, he takes one of them out, shaves what he needs off of the mushroom and places it back in the freezer. That’s what I’ll do next year! Pierre will save me some.

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I think this is my favorite way to enjoy eggs: soft-boiled. I don’t always add truffles (I don’t have that kind of money), but once in a while, I treat myself. It reminds me of my roots and of our farm in the woods…

Wherever she is, Petronille is smiling down on me. I am certain of it!

Note: I put my eggs in cold water and set the stove on high heat. 5 minutes and they’re out. I mostly use my induction stove though, which brings water to a boil quite fast. Cooking time depends on so many variables. Only you know your stove well enough…

Note: You don’t need to put a lot of truffle. They are VERY fragrant.

Note: You can put a few truffles (when they are fresh) in your egg basket. Their fragrance is so strong that your egg will pick up the taste of them…

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The light after the storm

The light after the storm

It’s the golden light that penetrates my soul. It isn’t warm, it isn’t cold.

I face it, eyes closed, feet apart, chin slightly up.

It enters my body and makes it way to the core.

Mixed with the essence of me it whispers: the battle is over.

Everything is as it should be.  The storm has passed.

Perfect lives here. Enough is here.

The light after the stormThe light after the storm

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