18 September 2013

Leftovers aka Restes (I think!)

I have always thought that French for leftovers was restes but I'm not sure now - no-one here seems to know what I am talking about; a common problem I find, though getting easier.

Whatever they are called on our last day in Roquebrune, Monday, we had lots of them to use up as we will not be self catering again this trip. 



On Sunday we visited a large street market between Frejus and St. Raphael where there was a guy selling 10 beignets for €1 so I asked for same and the git gave me 18 for €1 - my kind of git! We ate a couple of the crunchy sugary darlings there and then and few more with coffee later. I have absolutely no idea what that bottle of Armagnac is doing in the background.





For breakfast I heated the remainder in a hot pan till re-crisped and they were very good indeed drizzled with honey and taken with strong coffee. 


Before lunch we visited and said goodbye to some great people; Patricia et Marcel and Ingrid et Jaqui.  Champagne was served with nibbles and on our return I cobbled together a small lunch to tide us over till dinner; leek and potato soup with garlicky croûtes and sautéed julienne of ham; all leftovers.  Our French friends were surprised at the thought of eating soup for lunch but I can't quite grasp their point!

I was going to leave the soup chunky but found a mouli legumes in the cupboard so thought I'd have a play.



... et voila ...


For dinner we had a simple omelette of leftover potatoes, onions and air dried sausage of some kind. 

In other news ...

I am very surprised to find that the South of France is rife with chihuahuas!  Here's a girl called Canelle who I became quite friendly with.






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17 September 2013

Fresh produce in France is amazing!

I wrote this a few days ago, but couldn't post it!

I have been staying in a gated community (I'm dead posh, me) at Roquebrune-sur-Argens in Provence with my friend Carol and we have had no internet (so not that posh), hence my recent lack of communication.

Roquebrune is a couple of miles from the coast but that's not far so we have visited a few villages and the Cote d'Azur and eaten and quaffed as is only right in these situations.  Sometimes, however, we lunch or dine on the shady deck of our little house but still in the French fashion, of course.


There are so many fabulous cheeses to choose from; so far we have tried Tomme (yum), Comte (yum), various Chevres (all yum) Morbier (yum) and Chaumes (yuk - but then I never did like a washed rind cheese).

The saucissons here are resplendent and we have tested a variety of rock hard, dry, salty and strangely moreish versions. With good bread, extra virgin olive oil, fleur du sel, salad and, of course, the old vin rouge and sunshine this makes an excellent meal.

For dessert we have fruit or, a couple of times, a kind of cream cake called Galette Tropezienne (which is a very good light fatless, I think, sponge filled with crème patisserie and a lovely crunchy sugar topping) from St. Tropez.  I have been told that this is well kept secret recipe and shall be investigating on my return to the UK.  I'd like to make it as my real man would love it.


The produce here is amazing, for instance just look at this lettuce which, oddly enough, I have put my foot beside to give some perspective; it's all I had available at the time. If you buy a lettuce in France you'd better really be in the mood for lettuce!



And this bloody enormous tomato! This time I used my hand as we were in the supermarket.



In other news ...

The BT fiasco continues - see here - it is 7 weeks last Friday since they disconnected our line for some minor work then found we had one of Britain's rare slightly busy roads outside our house.  They had only switched the connection off at the exchange a few minutes before this discovery but for some inexplicable reason were unable to switch it on again. They did call me yesterday in France, despite my having given them an alternative number to call in my absence, to tell me that they will update me next week on when they might be able to do the work.  Is this bad "customer service" do you think, or am I just being picky?


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8 September 2013

How can this be possible?



Today we left lovely old Carcassonne and had lunch at a place called Marseillan. We only stopped because my friend has a  bit of a coffee habit and at first we a bit disinterested in anything else; the place looked like a typical touristy family holiday resort sort of place but we noticed an interesting eatery in a road of eating places that was pretty and quirky and absolutely packed - a good sign.  We read the menu ...


Whilst pondering we each drank a Sangria, which was not as I think of Sangria at all but was rich and deep and port-like.


Then for €12.90 which at today's exchange rate is £10.88 I had ...

Soup de Poissons 
avec accoutrements!

Gambas Marinée
with several sauces and fragrant rice

Gauffre Chocolat & Espresso

Not bad, eh?  The meal came with a generous basket of bread and a bottle of iced water. The service was absolutely superb, the place well kept and the price included various taxes. How can they do this?

One more question ...

We saw the sea for the first time since getting off the boat at Roscoff (actually we didn't see it then - thick fog) and beside the beach was a sign telling you what you can't do on it.  I understood the first four but what is this one ...

... Face interdit?  

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7 September 2013

Carcassonne


The above is a real picture taken by me out of the car window, I know it looks a bit weird but its not my fault!

I am sat sitting here in the heart of Carcassonne, French France and I can hear quite clearly someone playing, on a trumpet or similar, "Auld Lang Syne"  Quelle Surprise!  It is also pissing with rain but I've had a great day and a bit of sitting on the bed blogging isn't a bad thing.

Last night we ate at an outdoor restaurant, the name of which escapes me where for €14.50 I had ...

Gazpacho
Crusty yummy bread
oOo
Confit de Canard with Potatoes Roasted in Duck Fat
oOo
Crème Catalan

My dining companion had mussels au gratin with aioli and we shared a half litre of local red wine for just €6 so that's quite a lot of good eating and drinking for not much money. 


Today we first went to the market which was as I have always been led to believe French markets are - piles and piles of great produce! 


We didn't buy much as we have no fridge or kitchen at the moment; just a couple of white peaches and one each of these ...


If you can't decipher the writing they are oreillettes and you can read more about them here ... Oreillettes Recipe which is where I looked! They are like deep fried crèpes, crisp and sugary and very good with coffee.  I might try making some when I get home.

After we had wandered and marvelled for a while I went off on my own like the big girl I am to look at the medieval citadel or cité - very nice and not too full of people whilst I was there although they did seem to be piling in as I was leaving.





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France ~ first impressions.

What does this picture remind you of?


Travelodge?  Little Chef?  Surprisingly not.

Our first overnight was at a place called Saintes which is some distance north of Bordeaux where we stayed in a Campanile which was in a small retail complex or such thing situated immediately after turning off the autoroute.  I think it is France's version of a Travelodge or similar but what a difference!  The room was fine; basic but clean and comfy with unlimited free wifi (it's £5 for an hour at Travelodge). As we were knackered we decided to eat at the hotel which, as you probably know, would be a silly decision to make in a similar place in the UK.  It was brill!

We sat outside (warm and breezy) and had a glass of wine (above) whilst ordering and the lovely friendly waitress (yes - table service) brought us each a complimentary glass of gazpacho!  Honestly, she did!

I ordered a salmon "burger" which came on a delightfully crunchy toasted bread of some sort with tzatziki and green salad (dressed deliciously) and my companion ate steak and chips.  She did say the steak was a little on the tough side but loved the rest of the meal. 

On the way down to Saintes we had enjoyed several coffee stops (excellent real coffee too) but one stop in particular sticks in my mind.  Carol went to the "ladies" but it was closed for cleaning so she used the disabled lavvie.  She put her handbag down in the washbasin and was disappointed to see the tap turn on automatically and fill it up!  It did make us laugh, me even more than her!

The next morning we made an early start but first bought ourselves some bread and a seafood quiche to enjoy on the way.  I really am quite a snob about bread as you will know if you have read previous posts.  I love chewy, tasty, crusty stuff so was glad to find this ...


and this ...


... in the bakery over the road which was set between a hardware store like B & Q and a furniture shop.

We are now in Carcassonne for two days and I'm still impressed but more about that later.  Got to go exploring!


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3 September 2013

In Defence of Jamie Oliver!

29th August ...

Today I saw, for the first time, Jamie Oliver's new much discussed book "Save with Jamie". I can't afford to buy it but I did browse for a long while. The first recipe that caught my eye and which seems to have attracted the attention of lots of other people included in its ingredient list a side of salmon. (More about this in the future here!) On closer inspection, many of the recipes (which all look fine to me, by the way, and I have always thought Jamie's food appealing) include ingredients I would not expect people on a tight budget would have much truck with: fennel, lamb (so expensive these days) and prawns, for instance.


Having said that and seeing that there has been such an outcry among foodies and bloggers as to how unrealistic this book is for "genuinely poor people" I would just like to say that, whilst I can see their points I don't suppose the book's target market is people actually below the poverty line, which officially I believe we are, but rather at middling sort of chaps (I wrote that on purpose to sound middle class!) who are now feeling the pinch but can still afford a book to pick up some new ideas.

Jack Monroe (A Girl called Jack) says people are constrained by lack of knowledge and I very much agree with her.  It has been said that my generation (fairly old!) were the last to "learn at their mother's knees "and I don't think cooking education at schools is of much use. Wasn't it Jamie Oliver, however, who started the Ministry of Food in Rotherham together with the Pass It on Campaign whereby a few people were taught some basic recipes with the hope that they would teach more people, they would pass on the info and so on.  This was a good idea I think but if you don't know Jamie Oliver or anyone else who can teach you to cook there are lots of books available to read for free in pubic libraries, lots of stuff on the telly ("massive fucking" big or otherwise) and learning the basics is so very, very worthwhile.  Just imagine being able to make yourself something quick, easy, cheap, healthy and utterly, utterly yummy.

At the end of April Global Poverty Project.challenged us to eat for under £1 a days but I didn't join in because as I really do know how to cook and how to use every scrap I often do this anyway by accident!  

I am sure Jamie Oliver knows his stuff but so do I!  My credentials ...

~   I have been a professional chef for over 30 years not only in the UK but also in several other places where I have learned a lot more than if I had stayed at home. 
~   I have lived in a small, crappy caravan (not on holiday - lived in) with a broken oven and the only working space was if I put a chopping board over the sink.
~   I have also lived on various boats at sea, moored up, on the hard, passage making and for a couple of years stuck in the mud!  None of them were well equipped to say the least. 
~   For many years I cooked professionally on a Caribbean island where supplies were very erratic so I had to be not only very inventive but in an way that would impress rich people on holiday!  In short I know how to cook even in limited circumstances. 

The only sort of cooking I haven't done is on the telly! 

Now In my own humble way I have been trying to spread the word on how to cook and how to make the most of your food. 

I have been writing a series of books on very useful, flexible recipes which can be learnt by heart then tweaked and adapted to make your own wonderful creations.  This seems far more useful than just publishing separate recipes. See here for more details.  

I have also written a real, grown up properly published book which can be of real help in making the most of all your food ...

The Leftovers Handbook: A-Z of Every Ingredient In Your Kitchen with Inspirational Ideas For Using Them:


If you want a book that helps you prepare delicious nutritious meals using even the smallest amount of leftover food and a few things you could already have in your kitchen cupboard may I recommend (and not only because I wrote it!) "The Leftovers Handbook which is very reasonably priced on Amazon and has probably five times as many recipes ideas and suggestions as Jamie's book does. Have a Look Inside and see what you think of it.

3rd September

Due to my continuing ridiculous situation with BT  I have only just got online to post this and I hear on the grapevine that Jamie himself has made similar points to the ones I make above in recent interviews.  I thought I was right!!!


Tweetables ...



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