France is known for many things; art, music, food, wine, cafés, diverse scenery etc… As a population, they are very proud of all things French, and if there is one thing that is clearly a huge part of the national culture it is the bread. This country does not easily cater to those who might require a gluten-free regime, unless you can survive on French fries. The bread is made fresh several times daily; every small town and village has at least one, or in some cases a few boulangeries.
Ginger of course is in heaven, since every meal promises a basket of fresh baguette or other equally good options. Nutmeg has found you need to look a bit harder, but there are some options for “7-cereals” and multi-grain. The Artisanal Boulangeries (fancier variety) tend to have some really decent quiche and/or tarts. So far Nutmeg has tried quiche with tomatoes and Dijon (yum), quiche with salmon and capers, tarte aux aubergine et chevre and the best yet a tomato and chevre tart. Every good road trip should start with a stop at the local favourite purveyor.
The French are very active, they love cycling (think Tour de France) and they love to walk. There is a system of long-distance hiking trails all over France and other parts of Europe called Sentiers de Grande Randonnée . Each GR is identified by a number i.e. GR6 and graded by level of difficulty. The trails are marked very clearly with red and white horizontal marks (or an X if you have gone the wrong way). The GR trails are marked on many maps, including road maps. The best idea however is to consult the local tourist office, Conseil General for the “department”(region) and buy a detailed map from the Institut Geographique National (IGN).
This fall on a fine, and very windy day Ginger, Nutmeg and Jade set out from St. Remy along a section of the GR6 trail that follows the high route to Eygalieres. The journey took just over 4 hours, the distance about 10km with lots of elevation gain and loss. There is a bit of scrambling required in some short sections but nothing too technical. Ginger carried in the backpack with our lunch from the boulangerie. Nutmeg’s tomato tart was fantastic and the views were spectacular.
Here is the recipe for Sassafrass’ version of the tomato tart – you can make individual tarts as well. Even though this recipe maybe best with fresh market summer tomatoes, you can make do with what is available at this time of year. This dish is beautiful and can be very good to have in your repertoire, for the busy Christmas season of entertaining.
- 1 sheet Pastry for the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate
- 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
- 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
- ½ pound Strong Cheddar cheese grated
- 5 larges Ripe Tomatoes
- 1-2 teaspoon Salt and Pepper to taste
- 3-4 sprigs Fresh Basil
- 8+ slices Mozzarella cheese thinly sliced (or use chevre)
- Layer cheddar cheese, oregano, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese
- Season with salt and pepper
- Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour