My French Heaven


Category: Farmers’ Market

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

IMG_3671 _Snapseed

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)

Asparagus at farmers marketH92A8722

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!

Asparagus man in blueH92A8354GeeseDog at market

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


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