My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

Category: Farmers’ Market

Welcome to The Four Seasons… of France

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As I am sorting through piles and piles of pictures for my book and playing around with settings,  I realize that I have enough images to render the 4 seasons of the Farmers’ market. And since I haven’t written a proper post about the market in quite a while, well, here you go! :0) Some photos are older, some more recent. I apologize if you’ve already seen some of them…

There are Farmers’ markets in every town and every village around here. Not one day of the week without a proper market less than 30 minutes from the house. Some are grand, some are small. Some feel more authentic than others. All are quite special in their own way. Visiting them as often as I do is very inspiring and motivating for a foodie like me!

I do hope I get to give you a private tour of my favorite markets someday!

In the meantime, here is a virtual visit of the Libourne market that I hope you’ll enjoy! We even have a guest star in the gallery. Let’s play “spot the Canadian”. It’ll be fun ;0)

Note: I’ve never included so many pictures in one single gallery. It may take a second or two to download properly…

Bloody Mary Calamari

calamari bloody mary sauce

After I gave a tour of one of our local Farmers’ markets to two of my most charming guests ever (Charlie and Camille from London), I went back to my fishmonger to get some of his beautiful calamari. I also got some tomatoes and a pound of strawberries and drove home. I initially wanted to make a nice spicy marinara to dip the calamari in once fried, but it was really hot outside and I put off deciding on which sauce to make and made myself an ice cold bloody Mary. As I was nursing my delicious drink in the garden, a lightbulb went off in my little head: what if I made a Bloody Mary sauce for my calamari?! And so I did:

Radis - CharlieIMG_7232 _SnapseedCalamari Béarnaise sauceH92A3160Camille and the spider crabCarrots

For 1 bowl of sauce, mix together:

  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • A small fist full of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 a small red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcester sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (to taste really)
  • 2 teaspoons of tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh coriander
  • 1 big shot (or two, or three) of vodka. I wanted to go French, so I used my favorite brand: Grey Goose. It’s made just an hour or so from where I live!
  • A tiny bit of Vegemite or concentrated beef stock (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Leave the mix in the fridge for about an hour. Take it out and put it through a strainer.

Serve ice cold with really hot fried calamari. An absolute summer delight!

Fried calamarisea snailssardines - Charlie

Note: When making fried calamari (I follow the traditional tempura recipe), it is essential (IMHO) to make it at the last minute and serve each batch as you get them out of the oil. There is nothing worse than soggy fried foods…

Note: serve this with ice cold vodka, a chilled rosé or Chardonnay (or Graves or Pessac Léognan)

Note: I had also made a Béarnaise with fresh tarragon from the garden. It looked OK for the pictures, but once I had tried the Bloody Mary salsa, I completely forgot about the boring Béarnaise :0)

Green peppersFried calamari

Wild asparagus surprise

Wild asparagus

I am not too happy with my pictures today. The color scheme is all over the place. However, I’ve been trying to select them properly for the past few hours and I’m over it now… So please excuse forgive me for my lack of play ethic today :0)

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I went to the market on Sunday to get some asparagus and came across bunches of wild asparagus. I had seen them on a book cover a long time ago and had always wanted to try some. I expected them to have very little taste and a texture that could only please a cow… I couldn’t have been more wrong!

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I steamed them for about ten minutes on top of the regular asparagus while they were boiling and they turned out to be one of the most delightful vegetable I had ever eaten. And since tomatoes technically are considered fruits, I can honestly say that wild asparagus are now by far my favorite vegetable. Even cooked al dente, they are crunchy under the tooth and then melt away in your mouth. As for their flavor, it is somewhere between the green asparagus, the pink/white asparagus and fresh hazelnuts just picked from the tree. And maybe a touch of Jerusalem artichoke in there too… An absolute delight! I had them with a light red wine vinegar and chives vinaigrette. I had intended to eat my “hard” boiled eggs with them, but could not bring myself to mess with their incredible taste; so I ate them first and then the eggs with some cured ham and thyme flowers.

Wild asparagusTomatoes and old manAsparagusAsparagus on farmers marketWild asparagus

Do try to find some wild asparagus. I promise you will not be disappointed. I am seldom impressed by new produce (new to me), and there are very few I haven’t yet tried, but I will absolutely remember the day I ate wild asparagus for the first time!

Wild asparagusfarmers market LibourneBaker and cheeseCured ham and baconWild asparagus - asperges sauvagesFresh thyme and flowers

Mimi & Emma in My French Heaven

You will please excuse me for this mess of a post. I have so much to share here that I don’t even know where to begin. Too many pictures too, but I didn’t have the heart to split the post…

Mimi from Chef Mimi Blog came to spend a short holiday in My French Heaven with her lovely daughter Emma. We only had 4 days together so I wanted to design the perfect itinerary for them. Mimi had purchased these Foodie Days with me as a Christmas present for herself. So much to see, so much to taste and so much to share… Four farmers’ markets and 8 meals together. We focused on cheese and seafood as they are Emma’s favorites.

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I could write on and on about Mimi and Emma and the kind of women they are. I’ll just say that they are both gorgeous and mad about life, living each moment to the fullest. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as in love with good food as Mimi is. What an absolute joy to watch her eat the dishes we had prepared together.

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On Thursday we first stopped at my butcher’s shop to get the fresh foie gras I had ordered. We’d prepare a foie gras and Armagnac terrine we would enjoy on Sunday evening. We then went to the market in St André de Cubzac. There we picked up some delicious strawberries and wild sea bass that we cooked in a salt cocoon for lunch. The fish was served with warm potatoes and an olive oil vinaigrette made with capers, pine nuts and dill. That evening we walked through the vineyard to my favorite restaurant and had drinks on the terrace as we watched the sun set.

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On Friday we went to the market in my hometown and got loads of cheese from Pierre as well as super fresh langoustines and a live lobster we would boil for Saturday lunch. We also bought some calamari that we would cook in Cognac and tomato sauce for that evening. We went back to the townhouse for lunch and made a salad with mixed greens, the sea bass left over from the day before, wisteria flowers and a raspberry vinaigrette. That afternoon, we had a tour of the monolitic church in St Emilion and then a private tour and wine tasting at a friend’s château nearby.

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Market again on Saturday morning, but this time in Ste Foy La Grande. Ste Foy is located a little further East and the feel and contents of its market are quite different. We went home and gorged ourselves on langoustines and home made mayo. In the afternoon, I took the lovely ladies to visit the “La Sauve Majeure” abbey and then Le Château de La Brède, where writer Montesquieu lived. Montesquieu wrote L’Esprit des Lois (the spirit of laws) which inspired the French revolution. We ended the afternoon walking though downtown Bordeaux. Our lobster was on the menu that evening. I made it broiled with a garlic, parsley and walnut butter. DELICIOUS!

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Finally on Sunday, we celebrated both Mimi’s birthday and mine by drinking good wines and eating loads of cheese and cakes from my favorite pastry shop in town. We had seafood bouchées à la reine for lunch and duck confit and sauté potatoes with ceps for dinner. We also went to the brocante that afternoon where Mimi bought a stunning vintage lace table cloth and I finally found the seafood silverware I had been looking for for months…

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I can’t tell you how much fun this has all been and I cannot wait for my dear Mimi to come back. Now we have to explore all the meat options…

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Note: I will share all of the recipes for the dishes I mentionned later this month. This post is already way too long…

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