Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marché Gourmande

I have another friend who grows grapes, Sylvie. She owns a very nice little vineyard whose land adjoins ours.

The other day she held a Marché Gourmande – a Gourmet Market.

This is the fourth year that she has organised this event and it has become an important day in the local calendar.

Sylvie has a large courtyard in front of her chai and the other outbuildings she uses for storing both the wine and all equipment necessary for making wine. The chai is the area where the wine is actually made.

She put up 3 Poly tunnels – the 6m (20 ‘) high sort and laid out tables and chairs under them. All around the courtyard she set up market stalls for the various vendors.

We arrived about 6.30pm and were greeted by Sylvie with kisses and an aperitif, her own sweet white wine (Bergerac Moelleux).

There were various vendors in attendance, Sylvie had a stall selling her own wines, by the glass or by the bottle, there were a couple from Champagne selling their local wine! A local pork farmer was there with his excellent locally bred pork offering Jambon Braisée – a kind of roast pork. There were people selling cheese including an excellent sheep’s cheese and people selling ever so fresh Strawberries.

We wandered around for a while meeting and greeting our friends before buying a plate of this and a plate of that and taking our places at one of the long tables to eat. For my first course I had charcuterie. In this case a beautiful mousse pate of duck accompaied by dried duck breast and some duck sausage. It was delicious and had been made within about 5 kilometres (2 miles) of where I was eating it.

Of course, there was a bottle of Sylvie’s rosé wine on the table to accompany it. I was joined by several of our neighbours who shared their foods and wine with us. We had bought a bottle of Rosé for the first course and someone else bought a bottle of red to accompany the main course of roast pork with sautéed potatoes. Bread had been bought by another of the neighbours and was also shared across the table.

We had forgotten to take our own plates and cutlery so one of my neighbours also came to the rescue providing us with both. I had carefully guarded the plastic glass that the aperitif had been served in so that I would have a drinking vessel for wine and water as the evening progressed.

Cheese came after the main course. I actually don’t know who bought the cheese but one of our neighbours bought cheese for all six of us and I enjoyed a very creamy cheese made from sheep’s milk.

We bought dessert for all six of us. It took the form of some of the biggest, freshest, juiciest strawberries I have seen this year and we all had a small glass of the Bergerac Moelleux to accompany them.

Our village is quite small. We have a council chamber and one permanent member of staff and we also have a community hall. There are 340 people in our village. I reckon about 300 people attended this evening market.

After we had all finished eating the band struck up and entertained us. As the stage had been set up across the courtyard from where we all sat under the poly tunnels, they soon abandoned the stage, preferring to come out amongst us and play an acoustic set. The three members took a poly tunnel each and climbed up on the tables to entertain us, leading the singing and dancing and trying to coax as many people as possible to join in.

It was a great evening and was well past midnight when we finally strolled back to the car for the short lift home. We ended the evening with a glass of Armagnac shared between ourselves and the two neighbours who had collected us.


chaiselongue said...

What a wonderful feast and party, Ian. And all local produce! People in these small southern villages know how to enjoy food and drink don't they? We're so lucky to be part of it all, I feel.

Kate said...

No wonder you moved to France, Ian. I am more jealous than you can imagine. Thanks for sharing it with all your readers. Enjoy.

Ian said...

Thank you both. It's very true, chaiselongue, the people in these southern villages certainly know how to enjoy good food and good wine. I'm hard pressed to think of anywhere more dedicated to the enjoyment of those two items than here in southern France.
And kate, don't be jealous, think of next year when you will be able to enjoy the experience yourself at my food growing bloggers get-together.

Anonymous said...

Your tomatoes look very rustic in their pots on your shelve.

Its good to see that there are still places that do things as a community and have that community spirit' sounds like you had a lovely time.

hope the sun is shining on you its piddling down here!