My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

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Bordeaux

You know how you wear your nice suit for work or your most beautiful gown to go out on Saturday night but wouldn’t necessarily want to wear them every day? I feel the same about my blog. I want each and every post to be as special as possible, and, as you know, it takes quite a bit of time to write a good post.

I consider what I post on Instagram to be like my everyday comfortable clothes. It is my way to keep the connection with you going when I don’t have the time or the energy to put on my blogging suit :0)

I would be honored if you decided to follow me on Instagram. Just type “myfrenchheaven” in the Instagram search box, et voilà!

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Of cured duck, vineyards and haunted mansions…

Cured duck breast - Wine tours in Bordeaux - Food and photography workshops - Food photography - Food and lifestyle photography The great thing (and the worst thing?) about growing up in St Emilion is that everyone knew everyone. As kids we were allowed to go play from vineyard to vineyard when school was out. Almost every château was owned by family or friends of the family and there was nowhere for us to really get lost. Parents could keep an eye on us from afar and if they couldn’t, the neighbors would take over. Cured duck breast - Wine tours in Bordeaux - Food and photography workshops - Food photography - Food and lifestyle photography My cousin Bruno and I were raised as brothers. On weekends, my aunt Nicole would send us on the most amazing scavenger hunts she had prepared for us. We had our swiss army knives and were given clues and maps that would usually lead us back home by the end of the day. My grand mother would give us a lunch bag with baguette, cheese, juice and some kind of cured meat. The meat would be ham or duck. Cured duck breast - Wine tours in Bordeaux - Food and photography workshops - Food photography - Food and lifestyle photography Picture64 13-56-08 Cured duck breast - Wine tours in Bordeaux - Food and photography workshops - Food photography - Food and lifestyle photography To this day, the taste and texture of cured duck triggers memories of our adventures in the vineyard. We never told our parents, but one of our favorite places to stop and hide for lunch was the old house in the picture here. At the time, the front door and bottom windows had not yet been sealed up. We thought the house was haunted of course and that made our play dates all the more exciting… Cured duck breast - Wine tours in Bordeaux - Food and photography workshops - Food photography - Food and lifestyle photography Here is the proper recipe for cured duck breast. You can serve it thinly sliced at the apéritif or like here on bread, as antipasti. It has a very delicate taste and an amazing silky texture you will love!

  1. Get a thick fresh duck breast (with the fat) from a trusted butcher. Ours are almost two inches thick because they come from ducks that were fed to produce foie gras. The South West of France is were the best foie gras comes from.
  2. Lay the breast on a layer of rock salt in a deep dish or tupperware. Then pour an other thick layer of salt on top.
  3. Leave the breast in the salt in the fridge for 24 hours.
  4. After 24 hours, take the breast out of the salt and remove all the salt left on the meat with a dry cloth.
  5. Rub black pepper all over the meat and put it in a dry cloth with lots of fresh rosemary, thyme and bay leaves.
  6. Leave your little package in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks.
  7. When you take it out, make sure you rub off as much of the pepper as possible.

 

Early morning in the vineyard…

Range Rover in the vineyard

There is a blue fog in our vineyards, a soft yet heavy halo that I was never able to find nor feel anywhere else. And when I walk from the vineyard to the river on cold Winter dawns, the fog brings me peace. I know then that I am home. I know that all is well. I am finally able to process joy… This will certainly sound like a very self centered post, hedonistic surely; but I so wish that all of us could visit that place (or sacred space) more often. You know that place where you know you are in the presence of (no, not God) yourself. Actually yes! God! Your divine self… So think of your special place in the vineyard, by the river at dawn. Walk there, stay there and BE there for a moment. Completely awake yet in a dream (thanks Edgar). Maybe you can’t take your body there right now; but you can close your office door and take your mind and your spirit there. Is it at the end of your yard by the chicken coop? Or under a special tree in the park? Is it on the beach by the marina (Elizabeth)…

Wine tours in Bordeaux, Food and lifestyle photographyWine tours in Bordeaux, Food and lifestyle photographyWine tours in Bordeaux, Food and lifestyle photography

As I parked Hubert by château Petit Village in Pomerol (as a starting point for my walk), I met two lovely ladies trimming and burning the dead vines (sarments). The blue smoke of they portable fire pit added to the atmosphere. Then, as the sun rose higher, the fog disappeared and big white clouds formed in the crystal clear sky. The blue halo remained by the river…

Wine tours in Bordeaux, Food and lifestyle photographyWine tours in Bordeaux, Food and lifestyle photography

The next day, Hubert and I went to St Georges and the village of Montagne for our morning walk on the hills. I took a few pictures of the sun rising by the windmills of Calon by my B&B. Oh yes, by the way, we call my car Hubert, because he is so old and we like his personality so much. If he (OK it) were a man, he would wear a thick mustache, smoke cigars and enjoy long walks in the fields with Lord Grantham and a golden lab… I love my old Hubert!

Wine tours in Bordeaux, Food and lifestyle photographyWine tours in Bordeaux, Food and lifestyle photography

So please go take that walk now; for real or in your head. Bon voyage my friend!

Canola gold…

Canola in the vineyard

I was about to post around 4pm this afternoon (3.5 hours ago) about canola oil. But then I started to search the net for more information and kept on reading until now. The end result is TMI! Too much information. In addition, several readers added comments that really opened my eyes on the pros and cons of using such highly refined oils, the cons winning the battle! In this season however, canola is blooming all over France and Germany. You can find it at farmers Markets in the South West of France (lucky me) sold as a vegetable. It is called “broutte” and exclusively comes from organic farms as well as abandoned vineyards (as shown in the picture above) I steam it and serve it cold with a light vinaigrette. DELICIOUS!! You can also pour olive oil on it and put it in the microwave for a few minutes as you would with bok choy. So you’ll have to forgive me, but all I’ll share with you are a few pictures I took of the golden stuff in the vineyard on Monday…

Canola in the vineyard

Adendum: Since I posted, several of you also said they’d try to cook and eat the plant. I urge you to be careful and make sure the kind of plant that grows where you are is indeed edible and organic. Plant varieties are so diverse, I wouldn’t want you to get sick! Best option? Come visit me and I’ll cook it for you :0)

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