Just Another Trip to the Grocery Store. In France. 

I am often asked why I love France so much that I have a home here (and am looking for another). I give you a trip to the grocery store and lunch in the grocery store restaurant (because it has one, of course). Keep in mind that these are pictures of just some of it (left out the boucherie, patisserie etc etc etc so as not to overwhelm my readers). Enjoy!

Shopping

And dejuener (lunch). Salade Robochon. Salad, Tomatoes, Small Roasted Potatoes, Melted Reblochon Cheese, Dried Ham dressed with a mustard vinegarette. All accompanied by local Rosé, sparkling water and, of course, bread (Reblochon is a traditional fondu cheese which is not available in the US).  Bear in mind that lunch is commonly the biggest meal of the day in France and usually takes two hours, but they also work later than in the US. 

This ENTIRE meal (which was FABULOUS!) cost 18€ or $20. I love France!

Bon appétit!

Confitures… The Joy Of Canning French Jam

Making jam, “confiture” in French, is a beloved tradition in France. When Americans think of canning, they often picture steaming stockpots, pressure cookers and rows and rows filled jars lining the pantry shelves. I know that’s what I thought! In France, it is quite common to can just one or two jars of confiture. Fruit is selected at the peak of ripeness and cooked with cane sugar, pectin, and a little lemon juice in a copper pot. Being high in acid, jams can be canned in a water bath which is safe, easy and doesn’t require lots of complicated equipment. Here is a great water-bath canning how-to.

I often make just a few jars of jam. Last week, I made one of my favorites… Raspberry and Rosé Jam. You can find the recipe here.

20140802-162837-59317471.jpg

Strawberry, Mint and Black Pepper Jam is another traditional recipe I love. Mint is one of the easiest, hardiest herbs to grow, and I’m always looking for ways to use it. Don’t be put off by the black pepper. The amount is small and you actually don’t taste it; rather, it offsets some of the sweetness of the strawberries and brings out the mint. You can find the recipe here.

20140802-163638-59798629.jpg

Of course, fruit tastes best when fresh and in season. When I see something fabulous I want to make into jam but don’t have the time, I vacuum seal and freeze it. Canning and vacuum sealing are my best friends when it comes to eating locally and seasonally! I just made a batch of jam using frozen, vacuum sealed strawberries.

20140802-164423-60263984.jpg
If, like me, you’re not putting up an entire pantry full of canned goods, you don’t need an industrial strength vacuum sealer! I have owned two Food Saver brand vacuum sealers over the past 20 years. Here is my second, current one. They are affordable and the customer service is excellent. Get one and it will soon become your best “eating seasonally and locally” friend, too!

Here is one last reason to make jam. A jar of jam makes a wonderful gift. Beyond being delicious and pretty to look at, they are personal. Recipients truly appreciate the care that goes into making them.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.
Bon Appetit!
Tess

The Perfect Summer Wine

Every sumner for the past 15 years, I have spent at a week or more in the South of France. My favorite region there is the Langue D’Oc Roussilon. This is where the majority of France’s wine grapes are cultivated. The heavy red wines of the region simply don’t go with long lazy summer days and meals eaten at seaside cafés or in a garden in full bloom. In the South, the French drink according to the season. In the summer, that means Rose. This summer, I will be in the Langue D’Oc for a week and a half in August staying here. I am already anticipating it! The owner is also the chef of the petite restaurant, and he has agreed to let me observe him in the kitchen. You can be sure I will blog about it!

The origin of the name Langue D’Oc is interesting. The region has it’s own distinct language, Occitan, which is closely related to Catalan. In Occitan, the word for eye (œil in French) is oc. Langue D’Oc literally translates to “language of eye.” It is the land where people say “oc” instead of “eye.” Sadly until well into the 20th century, the French did not allow Occitan to be spoken in school and speaking it anywhere was discouraged. They considered it to be a “vulgar language.” It is now severely endangered. While there are street signs in both Occitan and French in the larger cities, one would almost certainly never hear a word of it spoken in public or at home. I have heard it spoken but only in very rural areas. You can read a concise but interesting history of Occitan here.

At my home in Ohio, nothing says summer to me as much as a relaxed summer dinner with family and friends, sitting outside until after dark drinking chilled Rose. There are some really good and affordable Roses available now. Check Trader Joe’s or The Anderson’s.
Bon été!
Tess