Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Fun Time

I had a fun time the other day. We held a barbecue and invited several of our neighbours.

We barbecued some local pork which I had marinated in Brittany Cider, local onions, garlic and mushrooms. I used “sel de guerrande” which is a sea salt also from Brittany, that seems to go especially well in marinades with cider. The salt is harvested in huge ponds of sea water which are sealed and then left to evaporate in the sun. The resulting salt is exquisite.

Various neighbours brought dishes to share made with produce from their gardens. We had a very nice mixed leaf salad with so many different salad leaves it is impossible to list them all – in fact I’m not even sure what some of them were, but it sure tasted good.

Then another of our neighbours brought the famous Clafoutis. I posted an article about clafoutis recently. Clafoutis is a tart made from cherries and with a sort of custardy base. I don’t know how to make it, and living in this part of the world, I would never dream of trying! However, I do know how to eat it – slowly and savouring every mouthful. She had made it that day with cherries from her garden.

Sadly, I was busy trying to coax a very recalcitrant barbecue to get hot enough to cook pork so I didn’t get any photographs.

The day before the barbecue I had, once again visited my friend Bernard at his vineyard. We had some guests staying with us who wanted to buy some wine to take home and that was quite enough reason for me! We visited with Bernard and enjoyed the tour of his vines and chai before moving into his cave for the tasting. I was not on form on Wednesday so my translation was lees than perfect and on more than one occasion I couldn't find the English words for things like the Vats!

Our guests tried several wines, all from his vines from the light, fruity 2007 rosé through Bergerac Sec, the dry white to the rich ruby red 2004 Bergerac rouge. 2004 and 2005 produced very different reds in Bergerac and it is always interesting to see the look on peoples faces as they taste the two and I explain that both wines have been made by the same man from grapes from the same vines and using the same methods. The only difference is the weather the grapes grew up in!

Towards the end of the tasting I was telling Bernard about the barbecue but, sadly, he was unable to come as he would be leaving very early the following morning for a market several hours drive away. He produced a bottle of his rosé and tipped somewhat less than half a small tasting glass out probably no more than 50ml. He replaced this in the original bottle with a sweet syrup of Peach. Then pushed the cork back in and shook the bottle.

The result was a wonderfully tasty aperitif with the peach adding a very special and pleasant flavour to the rosé. I took the bottle with me and served it, well chilled, as the aperitif at the barbecue the following evening. Everyone really enjoyed it with several of our French neighbours demanding to know what secret recipe I had discovered. I was pretty pleased to be introducing people from this wine growing region to an aperitif with which they were not familiar and which they enjoyed so much.

In the garden here nothing much is happening. The weather remains awful with lots of rain and not much sunshine. Temperatures at this time of year should be up into the 30’s C (upper 80’s into 90’s F) but last week the highest temperature I recorded was 24 C (75 F) with a low of just 10C (50F). However, the weeds are growing prolifically and in most cases are far outstripping the crops. I read on other blogs that this is pretty much the same across France.


Kate said...

The rose and peach syrup sounds like something I could really enjoy. I think I might try doing something similar with some rose we have in the cupboard...

chaiselongue said...

Hi Ian, I've just put a clafoutis recipe on my blog today, as it happens. It seems to work! The barbecued pork sounds delicious.

Ian said...

Hi both, Kate, you can use grapefruit syrup which is almost as nice, if you don't have the peach.
And chaiselongue. Thanks for the comment. I do have a clafoutis recipe here which one of our neighbours gave me. It's just that when they have lived here all their lives and have made clafoutis standing at their mothers, if not their grandmother's knee, I'm too nervous to try! I think I'll stick to those great British cakes and puddings that our neighbours lust after whenever we serve them. Scottish shortbread is a firm favourite here and I'm the only one around here who is making that!