January 9, 2017

Sunday Lunch in France

Sunday Lunch in France

Nutmeg is writing this post on a rainy Sunday afternoon while Ginger is napping off the effects of a long Sunday lunch. It is a long tradition in France that stores are closed Sunday afternoon, allowing everyone the opportunity to have a leisurely lunch en famille. (more…)

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February 29, 2016

Foodie Tour of Paris

Foodie Tour of Paris

There are many reasons to complain about the SNCF (French national railways) including their frequent schedule delays. However, when the system works you board the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) in Avignon and arrive 2.5 hours later on the platform at Paris Gare de Lyon – génial (brilliant)! Ginger and Nutmeg were in Paris for a quick visit, a weekend of “hanging-out”. As often happens, Ginger was simply happy to be there, and Nutmeg had a plan. They were going to stroll (flâner) the city and do a foodie tour along the way. (more…)

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November 16, 2015

Marseille Bouillabaisse a Provencal Classic

Marseille Bouillabaisse a Provencal Classic

What is your favourite fish soup? Residents of Marseille are adamant that French fishermen eked basic sustenance from their unsightly leftover fish bits concocted this fish broth/soup/stew on the shores of the now sprawling metropolis. The name for this dish is derived from two actions bouillir (to boil) and abaisser (to reduce or simmer). However, in the intense world of “Iron-chef” gastronomy the origins of bouillabaisse are up for debate. (more…)

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November 25, 2014

Le Ventoulet Tastes of Provence in Every Cake Slice

Le Ventoulet Tastes of Provence in Every Cake Slice

A few years ago, a group of Provencal pastry masters called les Artisans Pâtissiers Chocolatiers du Vaucluse got together with a concept in mind, their project was to make a cake that is representative of Provence. As you can likely tell, from their official title these artisan bakers know what they are doing when it comes to creating tasty treats. Their criteria were straightforward: (more…)

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April 22, 2013

What Happened To The Baguette

What Happened To The Baguette

The iconic vision of a French man or woman walking home with their baguette in hand is neither a myth nor a creation of the department in charge of French tourism. The classic baguette, long, thin, and crusty, remains an excellent carrier for fresh jam in the morning, or for soaking up tasty sauces at dinner. Although, French daily bread consumption per person has declined significantly from the early 1900s to about 120 grams, from as high as 900 grams, the mighty loaf still remains a vital part of the national diet. Despite the decline, that still is a lot of bread, over 23 million baguettes a day (8 billion a year) for 65 million people. Music to Nutmeg’s ears, by law bakeries in France, are not allowed to use preservatives in any bread. This means that boulangeries must bake several times a day, so their customers can always find a fresh loaf. The name baguette first appeared around 1890, although it seems that a long, thin loaf was made well before that time. A law established in March 1919 forbade the employment of bread and pastry workers between the hours of 10pm and 4am. The ordinary baguette is a simple mixture of all-purpose flour, water, salt and yeast. The dough once it has risen, is formed in a long length by hand, scored on the diagonal and baked in a hot (400F) deck oven. Steam injection, during baking, is the key to the crusty exterior. The size of baguette is not regulated, but mostly it falls between 65-70cm (25-27 inches) long and 6cm (2.5 inches) wide. The price of bread has not been government controlled since 1978. However, the combination of strong market competition and active consumer associations, ensures that what one pays for a regular baguette is fairly consistent. So here is the problem, the huge growth in large-scale grocery stores and multiple store bakery chains has created a highly competitive market place. The small, local boulangerie gets squeezed from all sides; “Goliath” grocery stores, rising wheat prices and fickle consumers. Today, consumers expect a wide variety of choices: sourdough, fibre, multi-grain, organic (bio), bran, rye etc.   The classic baguette remains on the bakers’ shelves as it would be suicidal for a boulangerie not to offer it among their inventory. So nothing has happened to the baguette, it still remains remarkably part of the culture in France, the quality might just not be what it used to be; however, there are lots of choices. [tfb username=’GingerandNutmeg’ count=’true’ lang=’en’ theme=’light’]

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July 16, 2012

Far Breton From Brittany

Far Breton From Brittany

Delphine the owner of Crêpes, Cidre et Companie, in Aix en Provence, is a lovely blend of Spanish roots and a childhood spent in northern France. Her Bretonaise heritage is recreated daily in the tiny kitchen at 23, rue de la Cépède in Aix. Her crêpes and galettes (savoury crêpes) are made with love, and she does not skimp on ingredients – lots of butter, whole milk and eggs. You can read more about her crêpes here. Delphine serves some other traditional treats from her hearth. There are usually (if not sold out) delicious, buttery cookies and sometimes if you are very lucky a slice of her traditional Far Breton. This dessert from Brittany is a tasty delight somewhere between a flan and a pudding. A Far Breton is similar to a Clafoutis or a Fiadone from Corsica. The key ingredient, much like for perfect crêpe batter is flour. Far is the word for flour in Brittany. With origins as a savoury dish made with buckwheat flour, Far Breton was traditionally served with roasts in the 18th century. As tastes changed and refined products became readily available the recipe evolved into the sweet dessert that is enjoyed today. Pictured below is the final product. Print Far Breton From Brittany Recipe type: Dessert Cuisine: French Prep time:  10 mins Cook time:  55 mins Total time:  1 hour 5 mins Serves: 8-10   The recipe is very simple. It is best to eat Far Breton slightly warm, the day it is made, as it can get a bit dense when it cools. The flan can be made with pitted prunes or apples. Delphine makes hers with prunes, so that is the one that Nutmeg attempted. Note: (in France sucre vanillé is sold in packages, you can make your own with a vanilla bean and white sugar or use one teaspoon of vanilla extract – not too much as you do not want the batter to change colour) Ingredients 1 Cup White Flour ⅔ Cup White Sugar 1 Package (roughly 1 tablespoon) Vanilla Sugar (Sucre Vanillé) or Extract - see note 4 Large Eggs 4 Cups Milk (2%) ½ Cup Pitted Prunes 2 oz Dark Rum Instructions Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) In a small bowl soak the prunes in the rum In a mixing bowl combine the flour and sugar together Add the eggs one at a time and whisk each one well Add the vanilla sugar (or extract) and the milk; make sure to blend together well Finally, add the prunes and the rum Pour the batter into a buttered pan Bake for approximately 55-60 minutes; check the progress a couple times during the cooking the centre should not jiggle too much The flan will rise and then fall after you remove from the oven 3.2.2499  

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July 25, 2011

The Real Bouillabaisse of Marseille

The Real Bouillabaisse of Marseille

Ginger and Nutmeg had been on the road for 12 days travelling to Italian cities and ski resorts. They arrived back in Aix en Provence after a 9+ hour drive, and it took a full day to get through the laundry, pick up Jade from the “doggie spa” and buy some groceries.  It was at some point that day, that they noticed a text message from Truffle – he was just a few kilometers away. His planned high-mountain ski randonnée in Corsica had been cancelled due to awful conditions.  The great news is Truffle was in town and could come for dinner, the bad news: what do you serve a guy who makes foie gras and magret de canard for regular pre-dinner snacks? Dinner was fine, the wine and company much better. (more…)

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June 20, 2011

French Recipe Favourites

French Recipe Favourites

Nutmeg has learned a few things about technology in the last couple months including: It is a brilliant idea to keep back-up files Software version updates can cause problems The benefits of saving documents to a cloud Luckily, there are a few loyal readers including CardaMOM, who prints everything.  Nutmeg has rebuilt the recipe database on this blog over the last few weeks, and she has been able to recover 99% of the recipes.  The new format is much better for printing.  Rather than make you search back through old posts for the French recipes, some of them are captured below (click the links) and enjoy! (more…)

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