Join Cindy in Alsace!

are two typical Alsatian towns. The architecture, is fairytale, meets living history, with the added benefit of French dessert! There are little towns like these scattered all over Alsace, exploring, (note Jupiter near clock tower) and eating, here is a delightful way to spend your days! Cheers to you from beautiful Alsace~

via Ribeauville

Marche Aux Truffes

Usually reserved for end of year celebrations, the truffle (truffes) holds an all-conquering pride of place in the dedicated local markets. It also kicks off the grand markets for the new year as this festival runs from late December into February.

The truffle is symbolic of luxury and French gastronomy, this delicacy appears on the menus of all top chefs as soon as it comes into season. The dark jewel hides in the ground at the feet of truffle oak trees and comes into season between December and March, maturing just in time for the winter markets.
End of year celebrations present the perfect opportunity to serve them fresh at our tables following a trip to the truffle markets. Buying them in itself can occasionally involve a certain sense of ritual, whereby buyers are restrained behind a white rope and wait for the blast of a whistle before running and inhaling the scent of these precious mushrooms. While it may be said that we eat with our eyes, it that were totally true, the truffle might never have been tasted. However, one whiff of their exotic and earthy aroma is magical and with that first taste, I was hooked.

There were several bands moving about the event providing a wide variety of music and do not be surprised if folks break out dancing. After all, this is France.

There are many other artists and artisans displaying their wares and many opportunities to indulge in other local products.
In Moussoulens, the Aude capital of truffles, as well as a visit to the truffle market, you can enjoy an excursion to a truffle field or culinary demonstrations from top chefs – using truffle recipes, of course. If you are visiting Carcassonne it is a short drive away and if you like you can combine a visit to the festival to a visit at Montolieu, the village of books. They are a short distance apart. However, from Carcassonne as your base, you can afford to reserve an entire day for Montolieu.

Among dishes on offer were omelettes laced with truffle shavings, grilled duck breast with truffle on a crusty baguette, truffle soup, truffle risotto, truffle butter on baugette. Vendors with truffle infused oil, salt and other treats. Then if you have deep pockets, you can purchase a small sack of truffles. Truffles are carefully weighed and sold at prices that change according to the market. On the day I visited the market, you could purchase a kilo (2.2 pounds) for a mere 1,000 euros. Bon appétit!

Bisous,

Léa

LE MOULIN À VENT D’OMER

LE MOULIN À VENT D’OMER
LE MOULIN À VENT D’OMER

Have you ever planned to visit somewhere, and found it closed? Then with a quick twist, the day turns magical! My trip to Cucugnan was the first but certainly not the last.

While the bakery was open, the mill itself was not. The keys were not there so we could not get in. As long as I was there, I stopped in the shop for some photos and bought something and went to sit on one of the benches. I went to the opposite end of a group of picnic tables as there was a large

Inside the bakery
Inside the bakery

group on the other end and I didn’t want to get in their way. They were such a lively and animated group of friends so obviously enjoying each other’s company that I couldn’t resist getting a picture or two. I asked if I might take a photo and they invited me to join them.

Denis explained to me that they are a group of friends who have known each other since they were seven years old. Each year they hold a reunion. While Denis and wife Alix live on the island of Guadeloupe.

They had just finished their meal and shared their wine, offered me the stunning dessert and gave me a café. After exchanging more information including email addresses we ventured on to the small eglise Notre Dame de Cucugnan to view the statue of the pregnant virgin.

La boulangerie
La boulangerie

If that key had been available, you would have seen photos from inside. Instead you will see pictures of some charming people who I would not have met otherwise. The story of such a group of friends who welcomed a stranger is something I shall think on for a very long time.

Most likely, I shall return to see the mill and take photos of it and this beautiful village. There are other places of interest and it is only 30km from where I live.

Bisous,  Léa

Making new friends is what it is all about!
Making new friends is what it is all about!
Virgie
Vierge enciente, vierge gravide statue
From the other end of the table...
From the other end of the table…
...
Vierge enceinte, vierge gravide
Le Moulin À Vent D’Omer
Le Moulin À Vent D’Omer
Desert d'gourmand
Dessert d’gourmand

Bio marché

...
Organic plants for your garden

Once again, we are back at Chateau Bonnefous. They are host to our annual Bio Marché where growers and artisans bring there wares for us to sample and purchase. There is also plenty of information available for those that want to explore organic gardening, wine making and more.

Being in the largest wine producing region in France, the wine makers are well represented and happy to share their wares.

Remy - Domain Saint Juste
Remy – Domaine Sainte Juste

There are baskets of fresh local cherries and strawberries for sample and sale. If you get hungry, there are food sellers who offer snacks or a meal. The Chateau also has a full scale restaurant where you can dine indoors or out on the patio.

Fresh and aged local cheeses, breads, it is a tempting display of local wares. Of course artisans of all persuasions are on hand.

Games and toys made of wood offer hours of fun without using any electricity and no batteries are required.

The carousel: Ladybug, Snail, Grasshopper,
The carousel: Ladybug, Snail, Grasshopper, Frog

The carousel is a favourite with the young ones. But each year the children’s entertainment changes. There is no charge for the ride or the petting zoo.

At any event, you will find music. This is no different and a merry band of locals wandered about the event regaling us with their tunes. Naturally, there is impromptu dancing.

There are tables set up for those who want to sit and chat with family and friends over café or a glass of Rosé. Face painting is offered for the children and once again, no charge.

Carousel - Grenouille/Frog
Carousel – Grenouille/Frog

An effort is made to introduce everyone to environmental issues and organic foods.

Bisous,

Léa

Wooden games
Wooden games
Wooden toys
Wooden toys
Canard confit
Canard confit
Handcrafted cutlery
Handcrafted cutlery
Lavender and other essential oils
Lavender and other essential oils
Something for everyone!
Something for everyone!
Petting zoo
Petting zoo

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Regional Food Festival

Poulet (chicken), foie gras (liver spread/pate made from specially fattened ducks or geese) and confit de canard (duck or goose legs preserved in their own fat).

 

There are many types of French Cuisine to enjoy in France, much will  depend on your budget, where you are, and what you like.

Haute Cuisine: the most elaborate style of cooking, a the grand meal of many courses served by top restaurants.

 

 

 

Bourgeoise cuisine: the hearty cuisine prepared in the home for the

family. The dishes are made from fresh local ingredients that grow in

the provinces. 

Nouvelle cuisine: a drift from heavy sauces, butter and cream to a lighter fair. There is more attention to the arrangement of food on the plate with artistic flair.
Regional Food:

Different regions of France are famous for unique and special foods that come from that area only, and for regional styles of cooking. These recipes, like many great recipes, are often passed down from one generation on family stoves and on menus of inns and restaurants around the region.

While Paris has regional specialities on offer from every region, you will pay for the privilege of sampling without the benefit of the whole experience that awaits those who explore the many regions.

The French enjoy seeking good regional cooking in the provinces where the ducks are fattened, the cheese where it is made, or the fish caught.  The varieties on offer are endless. At a recent fete, my purchases included some preserves made from locally grown saffron and red peppers and a savory biscuit made with thyme and lemon zest in the shape of a star. YUMMY!

While a number of foods may be unfamiliar to foreigners, it gives another dimension to exploring and discovering new delights that you will not find at home such as Sanglière (wild boar). In northern France butter is used in cooking while here in the south it is olive oil. Charcuterie (ham, pates, sausages, terrines ) will vary from region to region. Those regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean or the English Channel offer an amazing bounty of the freshest of seafood and prepared to make the most of each mouthful with local ingredients at their peek. The wealth of delicacies to be discovered include; mustards (Dijon), bouillabaisse, fish stew, (Marseille), cassoulet,thick stew of lamb is attributed to several areas in the southwest. The list of possibilities is endless. When you plan your visit to France, take your taste-buds into account and create some gastronomic memories.

Naturally, no event in France would be complete without wine. Each region has its own to be proud of and which will be on offer at any food festival by the glass, bottle or even the box. Bon appétit!

Bisous,

Léa

Galette des Rois

“It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”     – Julia Child

The Galette des Rois

Galette des Rois

Celebrating the Feast of Kings.
At this time of year you will see Galette du Roi (or La Galette des Rois) in all the boulangeries in France. The Galette, which celebrates the biblical three kings, appears in the New Year around Epiphany, or the Feast of the Kings. This is normally celebrated in France on the first Sunday (after the first Saturday) in January.

The typical Galette du Roi of the Indre is made of flaky pastry like a pie and filled with frangipane, an almond cream paste. There are regional variations, and some enterprising bakeries offer a different filling for every day in January. However, if you purchase it in a supermarket or discount store, it will be a factory made pastry with the basic filling. Inside the cake is a very small ceramic figurine called a fève ( a bean, which is what they put in galettes long ago). The person who finds the fève is declared the king (le roi) or the queen (la reine) and gets to wear the paper crown that comes with the galette.

If there is no French pâtisserie where you are, I have included a recipe. Don’t be intimidated by its origin as you can use pre-made puff pastry/phyllo dough and have great results. The photo was taken at the pâtisserie of some elves known as Valerie & Nadine. Their boulangerie is located in Carcassonne near La Cité and these dear friends are happy to welcome you when you are there.

Valerie & Nadine

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ground almonds
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup of sugar
2 sheets puff pastry
powdered sugar

Directions: 

Grind almonds in food processor
Beat sugar and butter
add two (2) of the eggs and almonds.
You now have Frangipane!
Butter a flat baking sheet
unfold thawed puff pastries and using a pie pan as a template cut into two circles
Lay one circle on buttered sheet then spread Frangipane in the center
and if you like, place a dried fava bean or ceramic figure in the Frangipane
Using the last egg, beat and paint the edges of the dough
Place the other dough circle on top and seal the edges very tight!
Brush top with egg.
Bake ~ 25-30 min at 375

The galette is quite rich and it will serve 12 people.

Bisous,

Léa