Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Europe in many dishes 33: France-Comte specialities

We have just spent a lovely time in Besancon, the very charming capital of the ancient province of Franche-Comte in the north east of France, very close to Switzerland. It is a region of hills, mountains, green meadows, and woods--of cows and pigs, excellent cheeses, sausage--and of good wine and liqueurs, as well as chocolates and caramels. Absinthe was first developed here, as was 'pastis' though it's not called that here. as well, it is well known for its delicious fruit lemonades, made according to traditional recipes, and syrups made from unusual things such as pine resin!
Typical dishes are often based on cheese, especially the famous 'Comte' cheese which is available in different ages of maturity--from 6 months right through to 24 months and even up to 40 months. With the Swiss influence close by, there's fondues and potato dishes with melted cheese called 'caincallotte' on top--a real rib-sticker!
Fantastic too the traditional 'saucisse de Morteau' , a smoked sausage which features in many a dish!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Europe in many dishes 31: San Sebastian food shop windows

Just over the border in the Spanish Basque town of San Sebastian(Donostia in Basque)--lots of lovely food shops, restaurants and bars.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Europe in many dishes 30: lovely beachside meal in Socoa

In the Basque region, fish and seafood are stars on the menu, and today we had a really fresh and lovely meal right on the beach in a very 'sympa' modest little restaurant in the small town of Socoa. Entree--a plate of local prawns with ailoli and mayonnaise, followed by a filet of fresh local sole and rice for me, two types of fish with ratatouille and rice for my sister Camille, and mussels and chips for David, and Gateau Basque at the end. Simple food, but excellent--beautifully cooked and presented.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Europe in many dishes 29: Lovely food in the Pays Basque

In the Pays Basque at the moment, full of fabulous food--from the delicious 'jambon de Bayonne', which is like Serrano ham, only better in my unbiased opinion :) to gorgeous cakes like Gateau Basque and the wonderful 'Russe', which I've written about many a time on this blog! Here is a selection of photos of lovely food, sweet and savoury, in Biarritz and Bayonne.

Jambons de Bayonne hanging in shop window

Delicious almond, pistachio and raspberry biscuits

Gateau Basque

Sheep's milk cheese

A 'cake' made of fish mousses and cheese

Individual Gateaux Russes

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Europe in many dishes 28: Sundry local meals

Staying with my sister and brother in law in the Aude region, we ate lots of lovely meals with ingredients sourced very locally, from the market gardens, fisheries and woods around the region. Here's some pics of some of the results!
Grilled sardines from the nearby coast, salads from local producers

wild boar and onion stew(wild boar shot by a local hunter)and delicious vegs from a local producer
veal sweetbreads from locally-bred beast, local mushrooms--not local rice though!

from local markets, tapenades and olives

and of course, cakes from the local patisseries!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Europe in many dishes 27: local charcuterie in Bram

The small market town of Bram is the closest shopping centre to my sister and brother in law's village, and the other day we went to the markets but also took in a visit to the local charcuterie, where we got delicious house-made saucisson, chorizo and boudin(black pudding). This kind of place is the real French country pork specialist, with excellent fresh meat and all kinds of pork small goods, all made by hand and to traditional recipes. Fabulous!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Europe in many dishes 26: a day in Toulouse

Toulouse, the 'ville rose', with its beautiful old buildings and sunny bustling atmosphere, has lots of wonderful places to eat and fabulous 'epiceries fines' or gourmet grocers. we spent the day there today and ate in a cute little Argentinian place--great empanadas and for dessert dulce de leche cake! Nearby was the fabulous new eatery, Duck Me, a gourmet fast-food place themed entirely around duck, which is of course the meat par excellence of the region. And of course all those wonderful epiceries fines, and the city's oldest chocolate-maker, Olivier, which started in 1780. And that's only scratching the surface of this fantastic city!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Europe in many dishes 25: Perigord delights--in Perigord!

Well, I had my 'Assiette Perigourdine' in Paris but a few days later we were in the actual Perigord--in the beautiful ancient town of Brantome--and had an excellent meal of Perigord specialities--foie gras with fig chutney and walnut bread as an entree for me(fabulous mix of tastes!), while my husband and son had a salad of duck gesiers and smoked duck ham; while as a main course, my husband and I had succulent confit de canard(duck confit) with sauteed potatoes with parsley, while our son had a 'bavette' (skirt steak) with wine and shallot sauceand chips. All washed down with a good honest Perigord red wine. Very satisfying indeed!