My French Heaven

AUTHENTIC MOMENTS & JOIE DE VIVRE

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Château des Vigiers – My French heaven indeed!

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I received a call last week from a gentleman who said he really liked the blog and wanted to meet me. Little did I know that Cédric (that’s his name) was the PR Director for one of the grandest resorts and golf courses in the South West of France called Château des Vigiers near Bergerac. He invited me to visit him so we could discuss the culinary tours I offer. He may want to introduce said tours as well as my Food and Lifestyle Photography classes to his guests…

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I had lunch with Cédric and his Director of Sales and Marketing Leonie at the château. The brasserie overlooks the golf course, the castle and the lake… My French Heaven indeed!

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That same afternoon, I drove to a village nearby called Eymet. I had heard of a very good butcher in Eymet who makes the most incredible patés and rillettes. Fathers’ day was coming up and I needed a plan. You see, my dad hates presents and surprises… except when they have something to do with food! I bought enough paté to feed him and me for at least a year…

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The countryside between Bergerac and Eymet is stunning. If I had to take just one picture that would perfectly illustrate what the French countryside looks like, I would take it there… And here I was, only 60 miles from Bordeaux, and everything already looked so different. This area has such a continental feel to it with the fields of  barley and wheat… That made me think about food (everything makes me think about food) and how different the local eating habits are. For instance, traditionally, people in this area eat little seafood compared to us. It was difficult, in the old days, to bring fresh seafood this far inland. And although it would be (is) quite easy to ship fresh seafood there today, it has not become part of the local eating habits.

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Long story short, it made me hungry for seafood and I had a seafood platter for dinner that day :0)

  • Get some big mussels (as meaty as possible), clams, prawns etc.
  • Put the mussels and clams in a hot oven for a minute or two to make them open and remove the top half of the shell
  • Place all your seafood facing up in a baking dish on a bed of rock salt to keep them leveled 
  • For the stuffing, mix 200g of softened butter (unsalted), a large handful of “persillade” (I put 4 large cloves of garlic for one bunch of parsley) and two fistfuls of crushed walnuts 
  • The walnuts take on their flavor once roasted. So I recommend you roast them first in a dry pan before adding to the persillade and butter …
  • Spread generously over each mussel and add salt and pepper to taste
  • Put everything under the grill of the oven for 3 or 4 minutes. Be careful as the seafood should not be overcooked yet the stuffing should have enough time to take a beautiful brownish color
  • Serve as an appetizer over warm toast

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A late celebration of Spring

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It seems a little late to celebrate a season that will be over in a matter of days, but I found some photos of my first picnic of the year and thought I would share them with you.

I had been visiting my friend Corrine at her lovely chateau the afternoon before and came back with a few of her delicious eggs (free range obviously). We’d even been chased by her geese on our way back from the chicken coop at the end of the garden. If one should ever think one is too insignificant or too small to make a difference in this world or impose their views upon others, they should spend some time with geese. These bitches are fierce I tell you!

I do love to visit Corrine. Beyond the stately house, what I like most is the atmosphere her and her partner André have managed to create there. The way each room welcomes you and the sunsets alike. The way cats and dogs play and lay… Every little thing, from object to host inspires calm and instills well-being.

Anyway, over easy eggs, fresh salad and some cherry tomatoes, a blanket and a lawn… red wine and primroses everywhere… The perfect picnic!

My French heaven indeed.

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It’s all in their eyes…

I will be adding a special page soon with some of my favorite photos from last year. The first page will show a few of the portraits I like the most. I know that you may have seen most of these pictures, but I thought I’d share anyway. Have a lovely weekend everyone!

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