As our time here in the south of France comes to an end, I am looking forward to going home to family and friends, if not the Kiwi winter. However, it brings to mind all the wonderful food and wine experiences we have had over the past three months. Stop reading here if you are hungry!
There are some things that are synonymous with France - the sauces, the bread each day from the boulangerie (to be binned by evening!), charcuterie (incredibly tasty meats of all descriptions), patisseries (delicate cakes and sweet treats), and of course the cheeses - oh the cheeses!
The totally incredible farmers' markets which I will so miss for their incredible range of raw rood choices.
Les's lapin stew - ask nicely & he may cook it for you. He has it perfected!
A wonderful evening meal shared with my friend from Dublin (eh, Maggy) in Carcassonne, in a very small restaurant that looked nothing but cooked like heaven
My birthday lunch in a little but very prestigious Michelin-listed restaurant hanging over the precipitous gorge in Minerve, the breeze blowing up the canyon, local bubbles in my glass (better than Champagne) and an orgasmic selection on my plate
A very fresh seafood lunch on the beach under an umbrella on a very hot day in Collioure with a seafog rolling in
Seafood any which way and still pulsing in the open air restaurant on edge of the the salt pans in Gruissan
Crazy mix o9f plates from small providores at the many village musical events we have attended during July
Aperos (French for nibbles) with our friends from around here - Kay & Mark, Gwen & Bruce, Mel & Colin. Thank you all and we are going to miss you heaps!
A wine makers lunch with Domaine Jones in the beautiful home of Marcel & Petra
Pintxos in San Sebastian - a taste extravaganza.
Cooking with foraged food from the high garrigue - thanks Heather & Dave
Favourite meal? The first that comes to mind is the amazing cassoulet we had in the tiny village of St Jean de Minervois at the incomparable L'Auberge de L'Ecole with Brigette and Patrick. It's a love story made real in the food they cook and the ambience they create. Cassoulet will never be surpassed! Here is her recipe printed in the wonderful book written by new friend and wine teacher/tour guide Wendy Gedney, 'The Wines of the Languedoc-Roussilon'. She helped me sort out AOC from Vin de Pays!
For 4 people: 400g white beans, tomato puree, 1 onion, 3 fat cloves garlic, 4 confit duck legs (you can buy these in speciality shops in NZ) 50g bacon or pancetta, toulouse sausage, thyme, bay leaves, herbes du Provence, breadcrumbs. Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water, rinse the next day & cook in plenty of water until tender. In a large casserole dish, gently saute onions & garlic in a tablespoon of duck fat (or oil if you must!) until soft & brown, add bacon & cook until fat is rendered, add Toulouse sausage & cook through. Stir in tomato paste & herbs until well incorporated. Cook uncovered in low oven(120C) for 2 hours. Stir after an hour. Once you have a creamy unctuous cassoulet, add cuck legs and bury them in the beans. Return to over to heat duck. Just before serving, add the breadcrumbs & pop under the grill until it is bubbing. Yummmm - serve with French bread to scoop up the sauce!
And I haven't mentioned the wines!! Rose, vigonier, whites and reds of all sorts. Even the 3Eu bottles from the supermarket have been fantastic!