My French Heaven

ALL ABOUT FOOD, FRANCE AND JOIE DE VIVRE

Category: Farmers’ Market

Lessons learned: A year in My French Heaven

These days, you just need to press enter on your keyboard and Facebook will compile all of your pictures to create a little presentation of the past year in your life. While I think that’s quite a practical little trick, I will try to do it the old fashion way, praying that the result won’t bore you to death. Here is a year in My French Heaven and some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:

FEBRUARY: Melanie J. had hired me for 12 Foodie Days in June of 2013. She wanted to come back to Bordeaux that fall to spend more time with me but couldn’t make the trip. So she invited me to spend two weeks with her in Miami instead. I hadn’t been back in the States for almost a decade and had been dreaming of a proper rack of baby back ribs since January 2005. We had some fabulous dinner parties for Melanie’s friends and I cooked what I still believe was the finest coq au vin I had ever made… Lessons learned: my guests tend to become dear friends and then I feel bad about charging them when they come to Bordeaux. Not a good business strategy! From now on, I will treat my guests as poorly as possible. (just joking of course! Please come visit me!!) Another important thing I was reminded of: life without ribs isn’t worth living! Oh, and Art Deco rules!

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APRIL: another one I couldn’t resist becoming friends with is Mimi (Chef Mimi’s Blog) who purchased several Foodie Days for herself and her lovely daughter Emma. We had the best of times. All we did was sight seeing and eat for 5 days. Emma doesn’t eat meat, so it was a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and come up with new seafood recipes. Mimi is a great epicurean. Watching her eat cheese on warm baguette with her eyes closed was one of the highlights of my year! I’m being serious! Lessons learned: ladies who eat cheese and real bread with their eyes closed are special!

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MAY, JUNE, JULY, AUGUST and SEPTEMBER: I had so many guests over the Summer that I even “had to” stop blogging. Yes, I know, I’m making excuses… Anyhow, from fellow bloggers like Conor and his lovely wife to Jennifer to hard core Foodies like Carl J. and Gregg M. to my dear friends Diane, Caroline, Elizabeth, Patty and their respective Michaels and of course Dany (who had to drive all the way from Barcelona just to show off his new Porsche) it has been a never ending farandole of the most fantastic people you could ever meet. Lessons learned: in business, people say you should find your niche. In life, I say you should find your tribe! I have finally found mine and they all love to eat and drink and be merry :-)

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OCTOBER, NOVEMBER: I took some time to travel and reconnect with loved ones. First I went to Brittany to visit my nephew François. I had never been to that part of France before. What a mistake! I first visited Mont Saint-Michel in the lower part of Normandy then drove down to the Quimper area where François lives. I ate crêpes and galettes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and came home with an extra 5 pounds… The second trip was to Japan to visit François’ sister Alice, her husband and my two adorable grand-nieces. The trip to Japan was my birthday present this year. It was a life changing experience for me. First time in Asia. Tokyo, Fuji, Nagano, Kyoto… Absolutely breathtaking in every way. I will soon post about these two trips in more detail! You see, I was living in the states for the whole decade when François and Alice were teenagers. When I moved back to France, it was their turn to move away to college, so we never had a chance to really get to know each other. Now it’s done and these “new” relationships are what I am most thankful for this year! Lessons learned: don’t wait for people to come to you. Go to them. It is never too late to get to know someone you love and show that you really really care about them. Note: I will let you guess which of the following pictures below are of Brittany and which are of Japan :-)

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DECEMBER: a new website for my Foodie Days that I hope you’ll enjoy (will be up and linked on Monday) and of course Christmas. I have spent quite a bit of money this year. Mostly on Charlotte who begged me for a new clutch, but also on a computer and the camera of my dreams. Travel isn’t cheap either and my philosophy is that cheap travel is OK, but great travel isn’t cheap… So, come Christmas, I must say that I didn’t have much money left for presents. The “problem” is that I am a Christmas freak and I HAVE TO give a present to each and every family member. So I decided to frame some of the family pictures I had taken this year and use that. It was a big success. Lessons learned: never run out of empty wooden frames :-)

That’s it for now. I wish you all (all y’all, as they say in the South) the very best for 2015 and I thank you so much for your continued support and friendship. I love you guys very much. Very much indeed!

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:

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

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