My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

The last market of Summer…

We’ve had an incredible month of September here in Bordeaux. Sunny and warm; ideal for the vineyard. I predict that 2014 will be a vintage to remember (I’m full of it. I have no clue). The farmers’ markets however have to follow the seasons. Tomatoes and strawberries are slowly disappearing from the stalls and I’ve had to cook batches and batches of stuffed tomatoes before the last of the big reds are gone…

I visited my aunt Nicole the weekend before last. We went to the market together and got everything we needed for the most amazing omelette with chanterelles and herbs. For our main course, Nicole bought a few pigeons from a 90 year old gentleman. We found out how old he was during our conversation with him (it lasted for EVER). We also bought the sweetest prunes and mirabelles for a pie. Aunt Nicole is a fabulous cook!

I took tons of photos; so many in fact that I haven’t had much time to sort through them all; but you good people are used to my slacking off by now. So here they are in no particular order:

Stéphane’s salmon and hash brown club

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

I’ve always enjoyed people with multiple layers. Multiple layers of goodness that is. I feel the same about food. Taste constitutes the character of a dish, its DNA. But I feel that color and texture make up its personality; the reason why it may stand out.

One of my top five favorite dishes of all times is Peking Duck. The way the crunchy savory duck skin contrasts with the softness of the pancake and the sweetness of the hoisin sauce… I mean come on. If that’s not food porn at its best…

I wanted to find a way to achieve the same complexity in taste and texture last week for my Sunday lunch (or maybe it was the week before. Is salmon like pot? Does it kill your brain cells? I’m getting worried). So, yes, smoked salmon was the main ingredient. I went for a salmon and potato club sandwich and it was every bit as delicious (in it’s own way of course) as any great Peking Duck I had ever had on Stockton Street or in Soho (London) :0)

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

1. Peel, wash and grate raw potatoes. Do not wash them once grated.
2. Form a ball in your hands the size of a golf ball and flatten it. You need to end up with 1/3 of an inch patties
3. Sauté the potato patties i a little bit of oil over medium heat until they are golden brown on both sides
4. Wait for these hash browns type pancakes to cool down (on a grid so they don’t become soft) and build your sandwiches with one layer of hash browns, one layer of red onions, one layer of smoked salmon and so on. You can also add lettuce for color if you want. Avocado would hurt either.
5. Top the sandwich with heavy cream and salmon or trout eggs and maybe some fresh dill

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

It is really easy, not that expensive and looks very fancy… ENJOY!

Note: you may add black pepper for seasoning, but avoid adding salt as the salmon and trout eggs are already quite salty.

 

Late wedding by the lake

Wedding at the lake house

My dear dear friends, so much has happened around here over the past month or so. I feel really bad because I wanted to share it all with you as it was happening and never got around to it (obviously). You know me: analysis paralysis… But never mind all that. I am back with a vengeance and I have many stories and hundreds of pictures to share. Let’s play catch-up shall we?

One of the coolest things that’s happened over the past month is that my dear friends Laurent and Jennifer finally got married after being together for over 20 years. Better late than never I guess. The wedding was very low key. Just 9 guests including the kids. We had it on the beach by their lake house (the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux is covered with lakes of all shapes and sizes). And I was the best man too! (so proud of that). You know how I HATE having lunch on the beach though. I guess I love my friends more… I was standing the whole afternoon. That gave me an opportunity to shoot pictures at my heart’s content. The weather was a little grey, but it gave a certain glow to the whole affair.

I didn’t have much time to go through the photos again, but I really wanted to post something today and wouldn’t have had the time had I spent hours making myself nuts on selection… I may be able to cure this obsessive behavior of mine after all :0)

Here are a few I like:

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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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