My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

Month: December, 2012

Liquid Gold (from the archives)

This wine, together with Petrus is considered the very best money (lots of it) can buy.

My Dad, who was a Wine Merchant (Négociant) for 56 years, has had the chance to taste the very best wines many times in his career. Then one day, about 5 years ago, he came home from a dinner party at our friends Clara and Jean Louis and said they had served the best of them all. It was a Château d’Yquem 1893! Jean Louis has been a wine collector his whole life and his dad and grand-dad before him. His cellar is a masterpiece.

Château d’Yquem, officially founded in late 1593 is a “Sauternes”. Sauternes, located just South of Bordeaux, produces mostly dessert wines. It does so naturally (nothing has to be added to raise the sugar levels). They basically harvest extremely late when the fruit is rotten (noble rot). The sugar concentration then is such that they can transform some of the sugar into alcohol and have enough left to keep the wine tasting very sweet.

Yquem was first owned in the middle ages by the King of England (also Duke of Aquitaine). It then went to the Sauvage family and the Lur Saluces family. It was sold to the LVMH group (Vuitton, Dior…) in the late 90s.

Dessert wines like these are best served chilled with foie gras, Roquefort cheese and dark chocolate dessert. It is also perfect with dishes that include pears, apricots or peaches…

Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of Yquem!

The French Pantry (from the archives)

Here is a list of things we all should have in our kitchen at all times. This is if you want to cook proper French food of course…

  1. BUTTER!!!
  2. Garlic
  3. Olive oil
  4. Heavy whipping cream
  5. Bay leaves (if you are in the US, get some fresh ones shipped to you from New Orleans. That is the only place in the States where they have the same aromas as they have here. DO NOT use the dried ones from the supermarkets. They will give a nasty sweet taste to everything you cook)
  6. Thyme
  7. Rosemary
  8. Parsley
  9. Onions
  10. Shallots
  11. Duck grease

There may be other important ingredients to have, but these are absolutely essential.IMG_7664

My 100 Grandmas – Mes 100 grand mères

Nos mères et nos grand mères (et parfois nos pères et nos grand pères) sont souvent la meilleure source de recettes. Les vraies recettes j’entend. Celles qui faisaient que la maison de notre enfance sentait si bon la soupe au chou, les crêpes ou la tarte au pomme au beurre salé…

Malheureusement mes grand mères sont parties vers un monde meilleur et ma maman n’est pas très heureuse dans la cuisine (bien qu’elle soit la reine des sauces Italiennes)…

Il m’arrive donc souvent, au marché ou au super marché de demander conseil à des étrangères:0) Ce sont mes mères et mes grand mères de substitution. En découlent de belles conversations au milieu de la rue ou en tête de gondole, auxquelles se joignent souvent le vendeur, la caissière au simplement un autre client qui passait par là: “Ah moi le Bourguignon, je le fais comme ça!”, “Ah non! Pas de fromage dans une quiche Lorraine!”, “Ajoutez une gousse d’ail dans votre huile de friture, ça sentira moins dans la cuisine”… Quelle chance nous avons d’avoir un pays ou tant de gens sont passionnés par la cuisine et les traditions. Une belle chose à protéger et à entretenir!! La veille de Noël, je suis resté au marché au moins 20mn de plus à parler de foi gras avec une parfaite inconnue… Une nouvelle grand mère sur ma désormais longue liste:0)

Our mothers and grandmothers (sometimes our fathers and grandfathers) are often the best source of recipes. I mean real recipes. Recipes for dishes that made our childhood home smell of old fashioned cabbage soup, pancakes or apple pie…

Unfortunately my grandmothers are both gone and my mom is not very happy in the kitchen (although she is the queen of Italian food)…

I often turn to complete strangers at the farmers’ market or supermarket for cooking advice:0) I try to pick a lady with a bag full of what I think are interesting ingredients. These will be my mothers and my grandmothers for a moment. We have wonderful conversations in the middle of the street or shop. Very often, another customer walking by or the cashier will join that conversation: “I always use that wine in my Bourguignon!” “Oh no! No cheese in quiche Lorraine”,”You should add a clove of garlic in your oil, it will smell less in your kitchen”, “Crêpes are better if you add…” How lucky I feel to live in a place where so many people are passionate about cooking and our culinary traditions. A nice thing to protect and pass on to the next generations!

On Christmas day, I stayed at the market an extra 20mn talking to a perfect stranger. Another wonderful friend and grand mother added to my list:0)IMG_1852 _SnapseedIMG_1897 _SnapseedIMG_1899 _SnapseedIMG_1929 _SnapseedImage 28-12-12 à 09.24IMG_2095 _Snapseedphoto 5IMG_1883 _SnapseedImage 28-12-12 à 09.26IMG_1967 _SnapseedIMG_1875IMG_2010 _Snapseed

Another Fairy Tail Christmas – Un Noël de compte de fées

Tout y était: la famille au complet, de beaux cadeaux et deux repas à vous faire sauter tous les boutons du pentalon…

It was the perfect Christmas. The entire family was there (Christmas in France is strictly family. No friends or wanna be sons in law). The magic was created through a combination of great food, thoughtful presents and lots of kids running around. 

My best present was a new top of the line 50mm camera lens that will help me take better pictures for you guys:0)

On the menu:

  • Seared foie gras with toasted ginger bread and home made onion jam
  • Scallops with warm lentils
  • Roast beef with fresh pasta in truffle sauce
  • Cheese 
  • Traditional Christmas cakes

As for wine, there was Château Belair and Clos Fourtet (Premier Grand Crus Classés St Emilion) as well as Grand Corbin Despagne…IMG_5427 _SnapseedIMG_3313 _SnapseedIMG_3289 _SnapseedIMG_3721 _SnapseedIMG_3697 _SnapseedIMG_3352IMG_3913 _SnapseedIMG_5459IMG_5534IMG_5460 _SnapseedIMG_5615 _SnapseedIMG_5631 _Snapseed

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