Domaine Richeaume

DSCN8270 

At the restaurant we often get asked what our favourite wine of the region is. While there are many that we like, our favourite of the Saint Victoire appelation is Domaine Richeaume ‘Les Terrasses’. This small family run organic winery in the town of Puyloubier is focused on quality ingrediants and excellence in their vinification process, and it shows in their wines. While Provence is traditionally an area for light, crisp Roses, we love Richeaume’s reds. These wines are full of character, but not too heavy, and age excellently. While often difficult to find, we recommend you ask your local wine merchant to find you a bottle. One thing is for certain, he’ll respect you for your good taste in wines!

DSCN8272

The Erotica

The best pizza I have ever known (and I have known a few), was a well named wonder called the ‘Erotica’. You could find this beauty in a little Argentinian pizza place off the Plaza Malasana in Madrid. I don’t even know if it is still there, but I certainly still have dreams about that place.

This thin crust pizza had no tomoato sauce, but had a topping of sauted onions, roquefort and walnuts.

I recommend to any of you out there in need of a creative new pizza topping (Catherine-Alexa) to try this. Once you’ve had the Erotica you’ll never go back to pepperoni.

Fab food in La Ciotat

 

gournmandsdinet

Having always avoided La Ciotat in preference for Cassis,  it’s charming neighbor to the west, I was intrigued to hear that there were several nice restaurants in this small seaside town.  So on one of those very rare childless, happy go lucky days we struck out for La Ciotat and new gastronomic adventures.

After walking through the surprisingly charming old town and port area we came apon a restaurant called Les Gourman’dinent ( a French word play between ‘Gourmandine’ – someone who loves to eat, and gourmands dinent – ‘gourmets eat’). Now, while I tend to shy away from the type of place that uses cutsey word games like that, Jean Sebastien, with his uncanny ability to pick a good restaurant said yes, this is indeed where he would like to have his birthday lunch.

And as usual he was right (which would be annoying in a typical context of couple dynamics, but has its advantages on these occassions). The restaurant as charming; with a wonderful view over the old port and the food was inventive and delicious. And on top of it all, the prices were reasonable.

Definately two thumbs up for Les Gourman’dinent (we’ll even pardon the  naff name).

18 rue des combattants
13600 – La Ciotat
Tel : 04.42.08.00.60

3 steps to paradise

Yummy

1. Take a piece of the best bread you can find – baguette, sourdough, country loaf – something chewy and yeasty, like real bread should be. You can toast it or leave it as is.

2. Spread a thick layer of salted butter on the bread. This is important – the saltier the butter, the better. If you can find it the best  is  ‘Sel de Guerande’ butter, with chunks of sea salt in it. 

3. Use a potato peeler and shave off ribbons of deep, dark chocolate onto the butter. Use dark cooking chocolate for a rich taste.

Need I say more?

All gone

This little piggy had coq au vin

You can tell a lot about a culture by its nursery rhymes and lullabyes. After all, this is how children have been taught cultural norms and heritage for centuries. And it is clear from this very early beginning that French ‘citoyens’, no matter how tiny, are imbibed with the food culture that will surround them for the rest of their days.

It has amazed me as I bring up my children in France that almost every nursery rhyme has something to do with food. From the lyrics ‘The neighbors have bread, but not us’ in the French equivilent to ‘Ring Around the Rosey’, to the mentions of eating pate in the morning, making ‘pigeon pie’ or even the sung recipe for ‘galette’ (where the children shout out that you need butter for a good galette), food seems to make its way into every one of these culturally telling rhymes.

To enjoy these wonderful lullabyes and rhymes I suggest a book and CD called ‘Les plus belles comptines anglais et francais’. It is a great collection of English children’s songs that are matched with their French counterparts. The songs are beautifully done, there is a book with translations and even all the movements (such as to ‘This Little Piggy’). My kids listen to this CD endlessly – and for one I don’t mind when they say ‘Play it again Mama’.

http://www.amazon.fr/belles-comptines-anglaises-livre-audio/dp/2278053140/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242298455&sr=8-5

See for yourself if the English aren’t always singing about the rain and the French about food and kissing!

Monsieur Potato Head

What is it about the French and potatoes? This lowly tuber is a national obsession (what other country would name a metro station after Antoine Parmentier, the man who brought the potato to France in the 18th century). Just have a look at the 81 (count ’em) pages of potato recipes in the famous Larousse guide to cooking;  Gratin Dauphinois, Pommes Duchesse, Pommes pont neuf, Gateau de pomme de terre, Pommes boulengere the legendary pommes frites, etc, etc.

Not only that, but the regions outdo themselves  preparing a myriad of regional specialities; raclette, tartiflette and the extraordinary ‘Aligot’. Otherwise known as the ‘ribbon of friendship’, this dish is a combination of local ‘Tome’ cow cheese and potatos, whipped together into a glutinous and fattening version of mashed potatos. The epitomy in comfort food. And the best thing about it is how it is eaten; around a table, scooped out in big stringy portions. The first string being wrapped on your head if you happen to be a Aligot ‘virgin’.

When in France make sure to travel to Aubrac – a wild region in central France and eat at ‘Chez Germaine’ ( Places des Fetes in Aubrac. Tel: 05 65 44 28 47) for the true Aligot experience.

The famous 'Chez Germaine'

The famous 'Chez Germaine'

Here are 3 great tips for cooking with potatoes:
– when making mashed potatos scrape the boiled potatoes through a sieve instead of mashing – it gives them the perfect texture
– if you are including potatoes in a soup, go light on the quantity so as not to make your soup too starchy and glutinous
– choose the right potato for its purpose. It makes all the difference in the end result. In general the higher the water content the better for frying. The lower the water content the better for baking. Here are a few guidelines to help you choose the correct variety.
 
General types:

A. Long white: A thin-skinned, all-purpose potato with firm, waxy texture.

B. Round white: A thin-skinned potato with firm, waxy texture; best for boiling and frying.

C. Round red: A thin-skinned potato with firm, waxy texture; good for boiling.

D. Russet: A thick-skinned potato with dry, mealy texture; good for baking and frying.

E. Purple: A violet-purple potato with purple meat and dry, mealy texture; for baking and frying. Retains its color when cooked.

F. Yellow: Several varieties with golden, thin skins, creamy yellow meat, and smooth texture; good for boiling and frying, some for baking. Mildly buttery in flavor, they are sold as Finnish Yellow, Yellow-Rose, and Yukon Gold.

G. New: New potatoes are those that haven’t been stored and are usually small. New red potatoes are widely available, but other varieties are appearing in more markets.

Specific varieties:

Accord
wedges
Belle de Fontenay
potato salad
Cara
chips, roast
Carlingford
wedges
Charlotte
potato salad
Desirée
roasted, potato dauphinoise, all-round use
Estima
boiled, baked
Harmony
boiled
King Edward
chips, roast, potato dauphinoise, all-round use
Marfona
boiled, baked, wedges
Maris Bard
new potatoes
Maris Peer
potato salad
Maris Piper
chips, roast, all-round use
Nadine
mash
Nicola
potato salad
Osprey
boiled
Premiere
new potatoes
Rocket
new potatoes
Romano
wedges
Rooster
roast
Sante
chips
Saxon
mash
Vivaldi
baked
Wilja
mash

Welcome!

Join us as we journey through France and life.