Les poissons en France

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Regular Visitors

These two are grazing in the alley most days at the moment (there's lots of small acorns on the ground).
 It's ironic that they are out in the daylight a lot more at the moment, as we are in the hunting season.

Also, Sue was excited last week when, late afternoon she saw two foxes running up and down the alley, and no, she hadn't started on her evening drinking!

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Waiting for Christmas

Last night we felt obliged to support our community by going to a concert at the church.  By some tortuous connection between a villager and their relative, a 50 strong choral group from Brive La Gaillarde, about an hour north of us, descended to give us a free concert loosely based on the lead up to Christmas.
The leader was a young, talented and very enthusiastic lass and the singers were good and well rehearsed.  The programme ranged over classical, from Handel to Karl Jenkins, gospel, and contemporary French, English and Spanish songs.  The concert lasted an hour and a half and ended with the audience being coaxed into performing as well.
We were amused to see in the church a large number of villagers (and the Mayor!) who we had seen the previous evening in the village hall at the retirement party of the local hairdresser.  And we must be getting known as we were greeted by the Mayor and we received nods of acknowledgement from a number of other locals.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Fine Dining

We are very fortunate in having an excellent Catering College nearby.  We have always enjoyed going for meals which the students have cooked and served.  However we've noticed that the quality of the meals over this past year has really improved.  So, to start our Christmas celebrations, Sue and I went last week for a meal which included scallops on a bed of crabmeat and filet steak à la Tournedos Rossini ... an excellent meal!  But we couldn't resist going again last night for a meal based around the hunt.
(Click on the photo for a larger view)

Roughly translated we started with Wild Boar paté and apricot chutney, followed by Foie Gras poached in a sweet wine.  We were even offered second helpings of this!!!  It went particularly well with our cocktail of champagne, cognac and angostura bitters which we were still drinking at this point.  (the photo shows my second helping!)
This was followed by pheasant over which was poured flaming Armagnac.
At this point the students were given instruction on how to ignite the spirit and serve it without torching their customers.

Having cleansed our palate with a small Granité (a sort of sorbet) flavoured with a local plum liqueur, we were served roast Venison (thankfully small).  When we booked the menu was shown as a choice between pheasant or venison, but, on the night, they found it easier for the students to give us both!  The meal was finished off with a pudding of chocolate mousse, rum baba and raspberry charlotte, any one of which would have been sufficient.

Absolutely amazing.

It was intesting to see a number of older French couples who managed to have their cocktail before finishing off a bottle of red between them !  We firmly believe that, for the French, wine is indispensible and that any alchoholic content is nullified by the consumption of food.  By comparison, we try to be sensible and so only had our cocktail and one glass of red wine.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Another Job done

Having been delayed by morning frosts, I've been working to beat the spell of wet weather which is forcast for next week ... and the wall in the 'Exotic' area has gone from this ...
to this ...
That's another job I can cross off the list!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Wonderful Autumn

As followers will know I am usually complaining about the weather, but not so this Autumn.

We have both been working flat out in the garden for the last couple of months taking full advantage of the mid twenty temperatures. I can't believe that I have been able to divide a number of perennials. Each year I intend to do this but the weather usually overtakes me. I still have lots more to split but that will have to wait for the Spring, weather permitting!! Meanwhile the under gardener has been just as busy. He is one bucket of sand short (much tutting) of completing the repair of the wall in the ruin, soon to be the Exotic Garden. As I write more of the courtyard grass is being dug up in readiness for changes there.

Our gardening club had a plant swap last Thursday and we came home with a car full of goodies. It has taken me a couple of days to plant everything. As I walked around looking for suitable places to put plants I was stunned to see so much still in flower. I thought I had spent the last months cutting  back and putting the garden to bed. Apart from the bedding plants I had left for the (nonexistent) frost to take there were plants flowering that didn't flower in September because of the drought and at the other extreme the Christmas Roses (helleborus niger) are in bud.
Here are just a few photos we took yesterday.

However, all this is forecast to change tomorrow when winter starts. Soberingly this bizarre
weather which we are having worldwide (even Guy is reporting similar unusal weather patterns in Taiwan) is a result of Global Warming. If only Mr Trump would take off his "blinkered" glasses.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Busy, busy, busy!

For us, global warming means that the 'autumn' weather is dry (the odd day of light rain) and warm (tee-shirt weather this afternoon).  So work continues at full speed in the garden.  In the new 'Exotic' garden I'm now starting to repair the walls.
Having cemented stones in the morning, this afternoon I started working on the lawn at the rear of the house.  This is to receive a 'make-over' and will no longer be a lawn!
This spell of mild weather has meant that the grass seed I sowed for the new layout where the Box Hedge used to be, is showing through nicely.
I don't know why we have got quite so many major jobs on the go ... the trouble is Sue's been reading too many garden books.

Toulouse Lautrec Again

I think this year must be regarded as the year of Henri Toulouse Lautrec. 
You will recall that we went to his childhood home, Le Bosc, back in the summer. Inspired by this visit we read a biography and yesterday we made a return visit (we first went several years ago) to the museum in Albi dedicated to his work. His family had a house in Albi, one of several throughout France, and his mother donated much of his work to the city.
Actually Toulouse Lautrec was not the reason we made the pilgrimage. As you know John is very interested in oriental art and calligraphy in particular. A few weeks ago we went to a gallery in Rodez to see an exhibition of the Japanese Gutai school. We found this style not to our liking, although I have noted that John is using some of their techniques. (Since the "studio" has moved to the porcherie I can get a sneak preview of developments. I couldn't climb into the loft when it was up there!)

Subsequently John discovered that there was an exhibition at the Toulouse Lautrec museum of work by another "famous" (presumably just in the art world) Japanese artist Yu-ichi Inoue. Apparently he was revered for his free interpretation of calligraphy and contemporary work. We know that the phrase "a child of five could have done that" is a cliche but it certainly summed up his work as far as we were concerned.
However all was not lost. It was a beautiful autumn day to drive through the Aveyron Gorge to Albi.
We had a fabulous lunch and we really appreciated our second viewing of Toulouse Lautrec's work as we knew far more about it after reading his biography.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

The French idea of Living Well

Today we went to a Fair of Wine and Cheese which was held at a village on the banks of the River Lot, about 40 minutes from us.  We had thought that we might see a friend of ours selling the wine that he produces for a small vineyard, but he wasn't there.  However it was full of other stalls selling wines from Cahors, Bergerac, Bordeaux and Champagne !
And there were lots of opportunities to sample cured meats and pates ... and heaps of oysters.

We were attracted by an extrovert man selling cheeses and giving out tasters.  His sales pitch worked and we bought 2 lumps of cheese.   Then further along I bought a 'tin' of cepes pate.
 But then we saw the stall selling Champagne.  It was a small producer ( an old couple, their daughter and her husband ... a real family affair) and it reminded us of a visit we made to the Champagne region some 25 years ago when we bought wine from a couple at their kitchen table.  This time we were in a large 'tent' but we naturally had samples before we bought at what we thought was a very competitive price !  We were impressed by their service; they even stuck a handle onto the box of bottles to help us carry it out.
It was interesting to see venerable Frenchmen taking their wines very seriously and leaving the fair with a quantity of boxes on their sack-barrow.  We'll have to remember to take ours next time!