Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cooking Course at Mille Etoiles with Edwin Severijn 22nd - 28th June

Four years ago, Christophe and I spent our honeymoon in California and stayed a few nights in these amazing yurts in Big Sur. So two years ago, we decided to spend our anniversary in a yurt, but this time in France! We found a place in the Ardeche called Canvaschic, which is run by a young, English couple, and literally only a few steps from the Ardeche River. We asked for a romantic yurt, which was decorated in pinks and reds and tucked into the forest. The yurts are only lit by candles, unless it's changed in the past two years. There are bikes available, plenty of walking trails and canoeing not far. And on top of all that, they are offering a 4 day cooking course in June. Read below or click HERE for more information.

Cooking Course at Milles Etoiles with Edwin Severijn 22nd-28th June

Edwin Severijn is the former chef and owner of Sot-l'y-Laisse, a very successful and renowned restaurant in Utrecht, Holland. He is now a freelance cook for events such as the Dutch design Week in Eindhoven.

Edwin will prepare a welcome dinner for you on the 22nd and then you will embark on a cooking feast for the following few days. Visit the local markets for ingredients and prepare Lunch and Dinner together with Edwin in the wonderful surroundings of the Ardeche Nature Reserve.

Discover the stunning River Gorge, 300 meters deep at points, and indulge your sense of adventure buy sleeping out under the stars in our yurts.
The course also has one excursion day. Previous trips have included a visit to local Wine estates and a brilliant afternoon out at a wild boar farm in the Ardeche. Details to be announced. Also planned is an afternoon 'wild food' collecting with a local specialist, picking herbs and edible plants and using them to prepare the evening feast.

The event is organised in partnership with Jan Willem Schipper who owns Souffle de Vent, stunning apartments in the Medieval Heart of Barjac, 12 Km from here. Accommodation is either at Mille Etoiles or Souffle de Vent.

The course is in English or Dutch This will be a truly wonderful experience for foodies and nature lovers alike. Cook, relax and get to know the wonders of the Ardeche in a week of good living! For more information: info@canvaschic.com

picture from HERE

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grape Harvesting Memories

While sorting through pictures, trying to clean out the mess on my computer, I came across these pictures from when Christophe did the grape harvesting last year. He worked for Yves Gangloff, a French wine maker known for his Côte Rotie, Condrieu and eccentric lifestyle. Not only did Christophe pick and press the grapes, but he learned about the process of wine making. He had an incredible experience and hopes to harvest again this year!
People are always curious as to how to get involved with the grape harvesting in France. We are organizing a grape harvesting adventure with A Taste of France Tours. Coming soon!
Yves Gangloff and his dog

The vineyards.

Picking grapes with a view of the Rhône River.Porter, or carrier for grapes.
Late morning picnic in the vineyards everyday.Tasting at the winery.
Lunch prepared by Matilde and served at the winery.
French boys pressing grapes in their underwear!

pictures by Christophe

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Five Great Restaurants: Uzès

Table de Julien Place de la Mairie 30700 Saint Maximin Just five minutes outside of Uzès and well worth the drive. This restaurant is owned by a young, local couple whose fabulous food and excellent service, make for my favorite restaurant. The menu, which often includes foie gras, is limited, but changes regularly and is never disappointing. Ideal for special occassions. Reservations are recommended, especially during the high season. Indoor and outdoor seating.

Les Terroirs 5, place aux Herbes 30700 Uzès www.enviedeterroirs.com If you have ever been to Uzès in the summer, you know that it is a mad house. This restaurant has the perfect spot for outdoor seating on the Place aux Herbes and it's often hard to get a table. When you do get a seat, you will enjoy fresh salads, tartines, and tapas. A great wine selection is offered on the menu or in the gourmet shop inside the restaurant. Outdoor seating only.

Du Chai d'Uzès
54, Boulevard Gambetta passage Marchand 30700 Uzès Best place for wine, small dishes and great conversation! This small, lively wine bar, owned by Thierry and Valérie, has an extensive choice of wines by the glass or you can choose a bottle from the wine shop and pay a 7€ corkage fee. The wine shop is connected to the bar and wines are sold at the prix des caves. Small dishes include charcuterie platters, local cheese, stuffed grape leaves and pâtés. Indoor and outdoor seating.

Le P'tit Coffee 24, Place aux Herbes 30700 Uzès Tucked away off the beaten path of the main boulevard, this restaurant is the perfect place for a light lunch and a view of the Place aux Herbes. Menu includes a salad niçoise topped with pan seared tuna, local goat cheese served with perfectly ripe figs and tartare-frites. There is a nice beer and wine selection. Outdoor seating only.

Millézime 6, Boulevard Gambetta 30700 Uzès www.restaurant-millezime.fr A young Parisian couple has found the right formula to keep customers coming back to this restaurant. A large menu selection of provençal style cuisine combined with a laid back atmosphere, open 6 days a week. This restaurant is perfect for an outing with friends or an impromtu dinner. Always busy, fun and it won't break your bank. Indoor and outdoor seating.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Les Aventures du Supermarché

After my last trip to the supermarché, grocery store, I decided that I need to be blogging about what I have been seeing! My love for French food was one of the reasons for moving here and even after 3 years of life in France, I still feel like a kid in a candy shop when I go grocery shopping. Almost every supermarché has an entire aisle dedicated to yogurt and another to only chocolate bars. Not those milk chocolate Hershey bars, but extra dark chocolate with hazelnuts and orange peel. And do I need to mention the assortment of cheeses and breads they have? Yum!

But...there is another side to the supermarché that I have been noticing that is a bit more intruiging.

One adventure at a time, I will share my finds, divided among three categories:
  • Très Bon! A product tested for quality purposes in our own home and recommended for purchase during your next visit to France.
  • C'est Quoi? A product that you might be unfamiliar with, possible from a specific region in France.
  • Bizarre. The category title says it all.
What started Les Aventures du Supermarché was the discovery of a large, round item sitting alone in a small refrigerated section near the meat. It was wrapped in plastic and difficult to tell what it was. Reading the label, 1 tête, 4 pieds, 1 queue, I realized they were selling a pig head, 4 feet and a tail, all for the reasonable price of 5€. Bizarre.

Introducing A Taste of France Blog's Les Aventures du Supermarc team of experts:
Elvis: tests all dairy products
to ensure the best quality for
you and all other humans
Christophe: wine expert, chauffeur
and translator
Dominique: chocoholic, shopping list
organizer and photographer
picture from HERE

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bonne St Valentin!

picture from HERE

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pierre's Pastry Bible

It's the first official Valentine's Day that my Papa will be retired from his career as a chef patissier-chocolatier. Even though he has been keeping himself busy by cutting down a 30 foot fig tree in my parents courtyard, I can tell he is missing making chocolates...a little. Tonight as Mama is preparing dinner and I am picking my brain about what to blog about, I realized my answer was right in front of me wearing a wool beenie, red vest and glasses. My Papa!
For years, people have asked him for recipes or if they could apprentice under him, but he "never had the time". I asked him if he could give me a simple chocolate recipe I could translate and put on my blog, but when he pulled out his recipe book, my post subject took a turn from the recipe to the recipe book. His recipe book, now bound together with tape, dates back to his apprenticeship in France from 1962-1965. The recipes are written in French, using grams and include no directions, which is why it is practically impossible for him to give out a recipe, not to mention that most of his directions are "stir until it feels right" or "heat until the right temperature". His recipe book includes sections on Petits Gâteaux, Chocolats, Petits Fours, Entremets, Pâtes and the letters of the old English script used to write on cakes. It has travelled with him from France to Switzerland to London to America and finally back to France. It has opened two restaurants, a pastry shop and a chocolate shop, always assuring the best quality. This precious recipe book of Papa's is more than a book, it's a bible, a history and a friend.

P.S. I promise to prepare, translate and post a recipe one day soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

French Macaroons for Valentine's Day

Everyone always offers chocolates for Valentine's Day and don't get me wrong, I adore chocolate, but sometimes I like to think outside of the box for gifts. For example, for Christmas I thought WAY out of the box and gave Christophe a helicopter ride to the top of a mountain where he will be guided down hors piste (off slope), snowboarding through powdery snow to safety. He plans to go in a couple of weeks and now I am wishing I had just given him a box of chocolates! Anyway, if you are looking for a slightly different Valentine's idea than chocolates that does not require an avalanche detector, French macaroons are the way to go. French macaroons are often displayed in pastry shops like precious jewels in a jewelry case. Perfectly round made in every color and flavor, they almost look too pretty to eat, but when you take a bite...ooh la la, they melt in your mouth! These delicate cookies made with tender love and care, are sure to please anyone. Here is how to make them or purchase them for a Valentine's gift.

Making French Macaroons:

*this recipe comes from epicurious.com
For macaroons
  • 6 oz sliced blanched almonds (not slivered; 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Red or pink food coloring
For chocolate raspberry ganache
  • 3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (60 to 64% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/16 teaspoon raspberry extract (preferably McCormick brand
  • Special equipment: parchment paper; a gallon-size sealable plastic bag (not pleated)

Make macaroons:
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse almonds with 1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Sift in remaining cup confectioners sugar, stirring to combine.

Beat egg whites with salt in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Add drops of food coloring to reach desired shade and mix at low speed until evenly combined. Stir almond mixture into meringue with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. (Meringue will deflate.)

Spoon batter into bag, pressing out excess air, and snip off 1 corner of plastic bag to create a 1/4-inch opening. Twist bag firmly just above batter, then pipe peaked mounds of batter (the size of a chocolate kiss) onto lined sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until crisp and edges are just slightly darker, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on racks, about 30 minutes.

Make ganache while macaroons bake:
Melt chocolate with cream in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. (Bowl should not touch water.) Remove bowl from heat, then add butter and raspberry extract, stirring until butter is melted. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely and slightly thickened.

Assemble cookies:
Carefully peel cookies from parchment (they will be fragile). Sandwich a thin layer of ganache (about 1/2 teaspoon) between flat sides of cookies.

Purchasing French Macaroons:

  • best known macaroon boutique in Paris with lines out the door Ladurée
picture from HERE

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

La Chandeleur, National Crêpe Day

Yesterday was La Chandeleur, national crêpe day, in France and I missed it! A good friend of mine called today to see what I had been up to lately and she asked if we had celebrated La Chandeleur last night. I was thinking, "Oh no I have missed a French holiday that I didn't know about." But she said, "You know, La Chandeleur, fête des crêpes. You were suppose to eat crêpes yesterday." Noooo! How did I not know about this food holiday in France? Since I consider it unfair that my FRENCH husband did not tell me about this national event, I am allowing myself until the end of the week to celebrate. Should I make crêpes poulet, crêpes with ham and eggs or crêpes spread with Nutella? Maybe I'll make all three...

La Chandeleur, celebrated on February 2, is originally a religious holiday, yet today it is known as the day of crêpes. The story is that Pope Gélase gave crêpes to the pilgrims who arrived in Rome. The crêpes with their rond shape and golden color, signified the sun and helped Spring to arrive. Even though most people don't know the history on why they celebrate La Chandeleur with crêpes, any reason is a good reason to eat crêpes in France!