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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Since We Last Spoke ....

The sun has set over our time, for the time being, in Poudenas and I'm feeling a wee bit guilty about leaving you in the lurch! 

What have you been up to?

We've entered Phase Five - no Six - of our trip to France. 

It's hard to believe that soon it will be 2 weeks since our little group of "Twelve Days" disbanded. 

What's happened since? 

Rich and I had a couple of days to ramble around the small villages that lead out of (or into) Condom on the Chemin de Santiago, in preparation for where we are now. 

Plan de Lot et Garonne (a map of sorts) 

Then our sons, Erick and Jaryd arrived...what a long journey from their homes in Colorado and California.

We enjoyed cooking as a family and one night full of stars for the lovely entourage of Marie-Claude, Christian, Sandrine, Jean-Claude and Jean-Antoine. 

Then, beaucoup Le Market in Condom and Auch. 

Armagnac tasting at Gelas in Vic-Fezensac.

And then Kayla - Erick's girlfriend arrived - another long journey behind her.  Welcomed in the only proper way, a Reblochon Pizza from La Galerie. She shared a beautiful bottle of 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company! 

Wear 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit! 

Jaryd, Papa, Marie-Claude, Kayla, Jean-Claude, Christian, and Erick! 

The Arcade of La Galerie

 Nerac's amazing market..

Here are some litle moments from last week.

I bid you a lovely Vendredi, Friday! 

Erick and Jaryd in the kitchen at La Belle de Gasconne

Ah, the Hour of Pate c'est arrivee!

Jaryd and Erick hamming it up! 

Sleepy Chat in Fources

Door in Fources, the round bastide

Marie-Claude Gracia Rey, 
The Queen of Foie Gras! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pruneaux, Figuer, and Potiron

The rain falls steadily, softly; marking tiny circles in the millpond of La Belle Gasconne.

An escargot marks a Chemin - a path - across the picture window of La Belle Gasconne. 

It's our little band's last full day of this trip and we have a bit more tumbling and rolling and stirring to do for a Fete Midi.

But in the meantime here are a few photos from our adventures in this beautiful and tranquile embrace of, and with, Gascony. 

                Madame Fromagier

            Michel and the Marmite

       Potage Potiron with Haricot Rouge,              Recipe of Marie-Claude Gracia.

Cocottes waiting for Flan aux Verveine, Marie-Claude Gracia's Recette. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day Three with David Downie and Onward to Poudenas

Hello from Poudenas!

I am writing on my I-phone outside of Cafe Galerie on the main street of the village of 300 inhabitants, which includes
Marie-Claude Gracia Rey with her husband, Christian, and her sons, Jean-Claude and Jean-Antoine, and her daughter Marie-Christine. 

We are blessed to be in the company of one, Michel Lebecq, who is a renaissance man and a wood turner, a farmer and leader of our little band through many culinary experiences....

In Mezin ...

On the train from Paris with Judy..

Cori and Brenda piquenique-ing

Cooking in a Paris apartment off Rue Daguerre

With Isabelle Bachelard at Rungis Market

In the Marais with David and Alison...

We spent a lovely morning with author and punster, David Downie and his wife, Alison Harris - photographer of all beauty, touring the Marais delighting in the history of the Templars, where Presisent Clinton ate, the seductive aromas of Marche l'Enfant Rouge and the sights of bejeweled chocolates. Lunch apres at one of their favorite restaurants.

David Downie and Alison Harris

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day Two, Three, and Four Went By In a Blink!

Paris mezmerizes. 

In Montparnasse Cemetary you can walk among the gingko trees and commune with the likes of Sontag, Sarte, and Zadkine. Man Ray gives a friendly nod. And Baudilare, is bawdy.  

I said to my friend Cori today that everyone is better looking in Paris. They smell so good. And I guess I meant everyone we see. She thought I meant everyone takes better care of themselves. And maybe that's true. It is true for me. I don't feel so schlumpy bumpy. But I am not sure why. Maybe its osmosis, being surrpunded by such beauty. 

We have been readying for the Twelve Day Tour and so that means walking. 

Tracing our steps along Rue des Bucherie and stopping in to Shakespeare and Company. We were just in time to hear Will Self Shark...which was winderful and strange. 

We went to Bon Marche on Rue de Sevre, and to Poilane on Rue de Cherche Midi.

But not Everything is art. 

We shopped at le Marche on Edgar Quinet and watched people descend as the vendors were closing up and discarding boxes of cucumbers, soft pears, peppers with spots, crushed containers of mache and bags of spinach 
and other varieties of laitue. 

Tall plastic bags of produce with ripe red tomatoes got dragged against their will by the men in the green suits.

But today we were busy in the kitchen; making Curried Tuna Salad with Potatoes and Peppers and then a Snow Pea Salad with Cucumbers and Green Zebra Tomatoes, a Flan of Oyster Mushrooms and Leeks and Julia Child's Cocolate Mousse for tomorrow when the Twelve Days officially begins.

We've got to catch a taxi as there is already too much to carry to move over to Rue Daguerre.

But the alarm is going to sound early to go out to Charles de Galle and fetch Brenda and Judy and welcome them and tantalize them with the best of Paris. 

What else are we to do? 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Twelve Days (oops 16 Days) in Paris and Gascony

        Practicing a Little Bonjour

Beginning a journey to France, and while waiting for the plane, wanted to get started, or restarted, as its been ahwile since I posted.  

These "Twelve Days" Posts will embrace visiting markets and food destinations in Paris and in Gascony and what its like to cook with friends, new and old. These will be some deeply seasonal and regional foods, people, and experiences. It might be a little crazy. Can we pull it off? 

Shopping the Paris markets and cooking in an apartment is first. Well, finding the apartment is first. But Cori, my dear friend and the Lucy to my Ethel routine, is already there.

In the next few days, Cori and I will be scouting out Montparnasse one of my favorite arrondissements, and doung a little MEP! Making sure everything is in place, Mise En Place! 

I hope to share a funny story or two, the behind the scenes look at two quirky and hungry gals - who will become 4 Q and F gals - next week, in Paris. 

I encourage you that all the goodness of your kitchen is right there, waiting for you to step in and turn it on! 

        A Paris Book for the Plane

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cooking Life: St. Jean's Feast Day, June 24th and Green Walnuts!

La Belle Gasconne

Hello and bonjour! 

It’s still early in the (day..) summer, June 23, but tomorrow is June 24 and St Jean’s Feast Day; and the day for bonfires, collecting green walnuts, and crushing them to make a sweet wine that is a tradition in Gascony. 

We have a grand old tree near us in Carrboro, that we've been watching grow and picking from since 1997. Listen while collecting the nuts, and you may feel a slight shift, as days are getting shorter, but not as short and cool as they will be come September! And there's a few spaces left for C'est si Bon!'s Trip to Gascony, we'd love to have you join us! 

Happy Anniversary! June 24th also just happens to be my 36th anniversary with Rich, my dear husband. 

I will try to photograph the process of making the green walnut wine, on instagram. Please feel free to follow me at MadameLevain. 

In the meantime, here is a true favorite ~ Salt and Honey Walnuts with Floc’d Figs

I have not seen any figs in the market yet. I know our trees will be lucky to bear any this year, because there was a cold snap right at the critical moment. This recipe works really well with dried figs. Serve as a sweet and savory appetizer for a special dinner. And in November, serve with your Vin de Noix. 

The Esplette pepper, is from the Basque region of France and has been used since introduced with corn there around 1523. adjust to suit your taste, then uummm!

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon esplette pepper

1 cup sliced dried figs
1 cup floc de Gascogne, available at Southern Season 

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons honey

mix together the salt, sugar, and pepper. set aside in a small bowl.

soak the figs in Floc for a couple of hours. when ready to cook, drain the Floc (should any remain, its yours, drink up)

heat a wok or heavy skillet over medium heat till hot.  add the oil, give it a swirl, then add the nuts. 

stir well, but gently till the nuts are warmed, but not burned.

add in the figs. sprinkle on the salt, sugar and pepper combination. stir well. 

add the honey and continue stirring till it’s melted and glazes the nuts. remove to a buttered baking sheet and allow to cool and harden.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Carpe Diem. Fulton Fish Market, Where it Began.

This excerpt from Mother's Five. A Season of Sauces. During this period, I was the food editor of the Chapel Hill News, and joined a conference in NYC of the AFJ, Association of Food Journalists. 

SEPTEMBER1995 AT FULTON FISH MARKET with the Association of Food Journalists.

Teddy's at Fulton Fish Market in 1944. A Tisket and a Basket of  Carp. 

“It is 2:30 isn’t it ?” came the questions, from uncoffee’d souls, not sure why now they had signed on for this early morning, Fulton Fish Market, tour.  Though the light inside the Westbury Hotel was the same as ever it appeared to be less bright than at 9am, coffee again, notwithstanding. 

            “Where is the goddamm coffee?” someone asked. Oh, that was me.  Walking amounted to mere attempts at shuffling. Blood circulated sleepily through veins, which only hours before, had rollicked alongside Rioja wines and tapas at the Metropolitan in a toast to the new Goya exhibit.

            We begin in a double decker bus, cruising the back streets of New York under the guidance of an almost full moon.

            At market we saw a doctorfish, mentioned by Shirley King in her book, Fish Basics. Cries of “watch out for trucks and men with hooks.”  Good advice no matter what the hour.

            “Nothing comes here by boat anymore.” Open 5 days from 3AM to 9AM.  Greatest variety of seafood on the Atlantic Seaboard.  Southern fish comes in Sunday and Wednesday.  Two buildings run from Fulton Street to Pecks Slip South.  Most fish sold whole.  Outa town people come on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Oh, zee little crabs, king mackerel, Venezuela parrot fish, croakers, squid, spanish mackeral, weakfish, John Dory, and spots.  All fish in New York comes through here at some point.  Sea robin, carp, tuna, shark, sword, fluke, flounder, bluefish, red snapper, amberjack, porgies, marlin, yellowfish and the movement to not buy billfish.  Who needs a fish with a bill? Yikes!  Tilefish, deepwater local fish not floor specialist. Monkfish, shark of unknown origin, arctic char, skate wings, triggerfish, red mullet (rouge).

“Everything that moves in the water, we sell.” Fish from Portugal, just for the halibut. Atlantic Wolf Fish, charmer with teeth. We wave goodbye to fresh smelt, and pass Sloppy Lowie’s, established in 1930 on our way to Amy’s Breads.  

Little did I know the luminaries I was walking with. 

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