Les poissons en France

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Gourmet City Break

We've just returned from 5 days in Manchester with our son and we had a busy time.  Guy had booked an 'art' walk looking at a diverse range of the art on display in the city centre, from Pre-Raphaelites to graffiti.  During our time in Manchester we also took in the Town Hall, the Art Gallery, the Library and Primark.  But we gradually realised that our stay there was becoming a tour of restaurants; a veritable Gourmet break.

Our first evening, we all went to a small Ethiopian restaurant sited in a room above a Kebab take-away.  It was a good sign to see that real Ethiopians were eating there!  Lovely food, lovely people ... good honest 'home cooked' food.
The next evening we went for a Vietnamese meal before going to a play.  Again it was a small family-run restaurant, freshly cooked food, and a waitress who had only worked there for 2 weeks and tried very hard to be helpful. Another success.
The next day we had Sunday lunch at James Martin's (the current 'in vogue' restaurant of Manchester).  Not to be recommended!  The restaurant is situated in a casino and so it's not for under 18's but even Guy had to show ID!  You then had to walk through the casino to get to your table.  The decor was naff; no style and no obvious theme.  I felt that the waiting staff needed more training, the portions not big enough and, all in all not a memorable occasion.
The next night we ate 'at home' with our friends from Macclesfield and we had a better meal there than at James's.
Lunchtime on Monday saw us at a National Trust property, Keddleston Hall.  They had a small restaurant serving very nice fresh, wholesome, middle-class fare.  So much so, that Sue succumbed to the Beetroot Frosted Spice Cake! (NB gluten free)
It was actually very nice and the place was swarming with waiters ... very fast, efficient service.
Our final meal experience truly was an experience.  Our friends took us to a restaurant which had been recommended to them.  This can often be dangerous.  However, it was one of the best meals we've ever experienced.  Sue chose a 6 course Vegetarian Tasting Menu but was initially disappointed when the waitress explained that the tasting menus were meant to be for the whole table.  But, having talked to the chef, they were happy to do it for Sue, if we didn't mind waiting for some of Sue's 'extra' courses.  Sue then felt duty bound to take up the option of having a 'recommended' glass of wine with each course!!!  (We had to help her out with some of the wine!)  The food was very well cooked and presented with some lovely food combinations; a memorable evening.  It certainly knocked James Martin's into a cocked hat!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Black Gold and other Treasures

But no, it's not Truffles, it's manure!  We went for a meal with some friends and we were talking about manure with Bernard and Bernardette who were there as well.  We are well aware of the importance and scarcity of this valuable product for the farming community and so we were hugely grateful when Bernardette arrived yesterday afternoon asking if we'd like some! So, after protesting that it was too important for the farmers, we accepted and Bernard arrived with his tractor.
The gardener is very pleased although it won't be used for the veg patch, it's for the roses!

This isn't the only present we've been receiving; the walnut harvest has begun and our neighbours told us to go to their trees and help ourselves.
It's been a good year for fruits and we could have gathered up a huge quantity if our backs had been up to it!
But that's not all; Fred's Dad, Michel, has a connection to a source of eggs and so periodically, he arrives with a tray which Jean-Jaques and Nadine share with us.  So last night it was a 5 egg omelette!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Food for Thought

You may recall that we wrote a post some years ago about the school lunch in our local primary school. We periodical receive a magazine issued by our Department, The Lot. In the current issue there is an article describing a menu for teenagers who are at college. The Department wanted to use regional food, which is an important thing in France.

Starters -          Puff pastry "au rocamadour" with fresh figs
                         Savoury choux pastry filled with cabecou (local goats cheese) flavoured cream served with an autumn salad
Main Course - Pork kebab glazed with a saffron syrup
                        Braised beef quercy style ( Quercy is the larger region in which we live)
                        Potatoes mashed with truffle oil
                        Tian of vegetables topped with shavings of Tome cheese (Slices of vegetables cooked in the oven with eggs and cream)

Dessert -          Fruit mousse with saffron syrup
                        Baked apples and pears

France is the second biggest market for McDonalds outside the US. Some how this does not sit well with this school lunch menu.

PS I spent hours laying this menu out but Blogger decided to do it its own way!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Gardener

Sue had started getting anxious that it was time for the pansies to arrive in the shops.  She checked on the blog to see when she'd gone shopping in previous years and we've been going to stores just in case!  So, to great relief, this Saturday they appeared at Carrefour in Cahors.
As you can see it wasn't a random selection, but the result of carefully turfing out the wrong colours from the trays and replacing them with toning colours.  So we have pansies all in the blue spectrum.
I had had a packet of wallflower seeds for about 3 years and was fed up with looking at them so I threw them in the veg patch in June. They grew miraculously, however I now realise, too well. Presumably the manure in the veg patch was too much to their liking and I ended up with loads of leaves which fell over and grew along the ground. However waste not want not, we have spent the last three days planting them in the long bed. The operative word being "we". John virtually pick axing our concrete ground and me laying  the wallflowers in trenches and replacing the solid clods. It could not be described as "planting". Never mind they will be winter fodder for the deer!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Front Door

....mark 106. Despite John's tireless efforts to stop water coming in the front door it continued to do so - much to his great annoyance. With winter approaching he developed yet another dastardly plan. He has clad the outside of the door and sandwiched a plastic membrane between it and the existing door. It has not been tested so far!!
Meanwhile he is successfully putting up plasterboard between the beams in the third bedroom. A very slow job because it requires him measuring every 5 centimetres to ensue he has the right shape.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Autumn Chop

This lovely weather is continuing; misty, dewy mornings turning into warm/hot afternoons ... and no rain.  So the gardener has declared the season over as there's nothing to be gained by continuing to water.  Sue has started cutting down the flowers in the serpentine bed.
She's also started this year's attempt to over-winter the geraniums (pelargoniums for the more pedantic) using a new method found on the internet.  Will it be a success?  Time will tell!

I am working furiously as I fear a storm coming!! John has cleared out the barn (the first time in 8 years), tidied his tools in the porcherie (the first time he needed one he couldn't find it) and has started on the last bedroom.