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simple local vegetables

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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

My second holiday this year.....

So - I had my second holiday last night, and I'm writing this whilst I await my third holiday this lunchtime!
Last night I had the honour of receiving my Dutch Tourists, on their way to Southern Spain.
A popular "stagecoach halt" the family home of "mr le marquis" is not so far from the Spanish border, the food is good, very inexpensive, conversation is sparkling and witty - even in Dutch, and the Dutch are a "dour" race, believe me, not at all what one would suppose with legalised brothels, drugs, and all manner of other things!
So - to loosen 'em up, here was our menu......
No - we didn't have any matjes filets, but they are certainly a "loosener up", and they're Dutch!
Aperos:   A touch of ice cold, demi-sec "Kriter" bubbly, with a few little mouth sized bites of bits and pieces.
"Bits and Pieces" are often those famous "left-overs"- little bits of country pate, slices of boiled egg with a caper on it, "saucisse sec" on little bread canapes, left over bits of ham, and so on.
If you're organised, you can start to freeze these bits and pieces a couple of weeks before, in anticipation, they won't go bad or anything, and this allows you to have a good selection. Together with anchovy fritters (desalt the anchovy filets first) and other littles simple things, crisps, olives apero biscuits, you fixed up fine for any one!
Since I only see these Dutch friends once a year, something special is required! Foie Gras.....!
Lightly warmed, preferably in a non-sticking pan, NO supplementary fat or oil etc., just a couple of seconds each side, served up with simply toasted bread, either normal toast bread, or croutons toasted of French bread.
That's it!
You can also decorate a little, but it's optional.-        and not at all necessary. Please don't use tomatoes and things....!
Logically, luxury accompanies luxury:
What else with Foie Gras - maybe a "Tokay" if you've got a couple of thousand to spare!

Bit fishy, but not really: SCALLOPS, Coquilles St. Jaques gratined, lightly browned, sitting there looking at you in their rich creamy Mornay sauce - but make sure the cheese you use is mild, the taste is in the Scallops and its "coraille". Some places tell you to take out the coraille (that's the red/orangy bit) - DON'T! It has a taste all of its own - quite delicious and delicate. These are the "eggs" - a bit of caviar is good as well!   Of course, being on holiday, the Dutch didn't leave any of the "bubbly" which goes so well with this dish, so a second bottle was required. Actually, I prefer a white Burgundy, or a crispy, cold, local wine called "Picpoul de Pinet" - but whatever, it must be dry, dry, dry and chilled, chilled, chilled!
Another "smoke break" - The Dutch enjoy their "wacky-backy" and sometimes they forget it's illegal in France and bring it with them anyway! Not my thing, mais "chacun son gout" (Jack's son has the gout)!
We continued, and the break always gives the chef time to organise his kitchen and his next dish!
KIP - no - not sleep, it's the Dutch for chicken!
Everybody, or nearly everybody likes chicken, not "Gertie" - she's sacred, and will run around the yard until her natural death but there are all types of varieties available, easy to prepare, delicious to eat, good for those lady guests who are on their regular diet, good for thos nasty men who like to tear and rip the delicate flesh off the legs, drooling and slabbering all the while.
A good slobber at table......!
Strangely, chicken is the one thing most people eat with their fingers, seems to bring out the pre-historic in them!
So a simple chicken dish - it's international, simple, not over expensive and delicious cooked in all it's variations.
These easy
420 × 420 - 72 ko - jpg

A local Rosé wine (or as the Americans call it - a "blush") well chilled and as pale as possible. Tourists love pale Rosé wines - they think the paler they are, the less alcohol they have. Actually, it is normally the reverse, but the guest is always right.

I won't bother you with the actual dish, because there are so many, and you probably know them all. If you don't - go to the links above....
Of course, the normal but always (at least in France) welcome Cheeseboard followed.    I always try to have a little for everybody, some "semi hard" some really creamy, runny Camembert, a horribly smelly, runny, full flavoured "Munster" (useful to have in a car when passing the Customs years ago) some blue or green "penicillin" cheese, since I once was a guide in the Society caves at Roquefort, I tend to take that. It's always nice to try to have cheese from all the beasts - goat, cow, ewe, and if possible "au lait cru" (made from raw milk). It's more expensive, but the taste is so much better, and since it's illegal to export it to most countries, the Tourists don't get it very often.   Smell, as you know, is related to taste! With a cheeseboard, you really need a sturdy red wine, although some people prefer a sweeter wine. President de Gaulle (the one with the big nose) once said "How can you govern a country which has more than 3,000 types of cheeses?"
After these luxuries, a simple coupe with a couple of balls of ice cream with a touch of crème Chantilly, I chose simple Vanilla and Café flavoured ones, and served with a Bordeaux white "moelleux" (sweetish) quite delicious. A sweet dessert wine style Porto, sweet Sherry, or Muscat de Lunel/Frontignan (both local) does the job as well, although often a little too sweet. Of course, Champagne or a good bubbly is perfect - "demi-sec" of course - if your Bank Manager will allow it!
The whole thing - rounded off with the "Cafe Espresso" and (If I'd had them) liqueurs and "pousse-cafés" just rounded off a lovely evening.
The worst part was watching the Dutch tourists getting into their car and setting of back to their caravan. I don't like supplying alcohol to drivers, but they are adult, and I can't really do anything about it.
Do try to avoid alcohol if you're driving - it's difficult when you're invited, particularly somewhere like the Hermitage de mr le marquis - or stay overnight. I've never been able to understand those men who have a wife who drives, doesn't drink, but still refuses to hand the car keys over to her! Silly bu**ars! It's always nice to pass a little message to your host saying you got back home safely, and it's always nice to finish your holiday with a VALID driving licence, and ALIVE!
Certainly, I don't push anyone into drinking, and generally I pass a pretty bad night, awaiting confirmation that my guests arrived home - safely.
That's life, particularly Tourist life......! Someday or other, I suppose, something will happen, but.......... In any case, I hope I've given you some ideas, and the next "my vacances" will be dealing with "filet mignon et Asperges" as well as other things......
Bonne Appétit!

iwmpop (mrlemarquis)           Vauvert, France
August 2010.

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