Sunday, June 13, 2010

Five years ago in France

Almost exactly five years ago we were in France, enjoying 5 wonderful days in Paris, then a week in a little stone cottage in the Loire Valley, then a week at La Dependance, a little converted stone barn in the hamlet of La Lande in the Dordogne region of SW France. La Dependance was right next door to Chez Hartley where our friends Judy and Jurgen were staying for all of term two to give the kids a wonderful experience of living and schooling in country France.

Our week in the Dordogne was a constant delight of companionship, great food markets, fine dining and wining, lazy games of petanque with a glass of champagne in the Hartley's terrain in the evenings and daily picnics in the gorgeous villages of the region.

Jenny and Wayne, and their two girls, from Murrumbateman joined us for a couple of nights on their way from Paris to the wine regions around Lyon. We had some great foodie times over those few days and loved checking out the noble rot wines around Sassignac and the distinctive Bordeaux wines from St Emilion.
Maxie and Rod weren't there five years ago but have had many French adventures themselves, some of which we shared in our 2008 visit. They were gracious enough to host our 5 year reunion lunch. Most of our meals in France were in bistros and fairly rustic country style cafes. The food was wonderful but we were more likely to be sharing it with well built French tradesmen, farm workers and country folk than with a more elegant crowd. The meals we ate and the wonderful market produce we saw were the inspiration for our reunion lunch.

Judy prepared this wonderful entree of terrine and cherry chutney (to commemorate our first evening at La Lande when Rob and Jurgen both fell out of the cherry tree while they were meant to be there to ensure the safety of the children).

Jenny prepared a gorgeous spatchcock dish for main course with loads of tarragon. I prepared french beans and broccoli with hazelnut and orange, roasted beetroot with chervil and maple syrup dressing and sweet potato and sage gratin. I was trying to capture the brilliant colours of the produce in the country markets and the luscious flavours of our cafe lunches.
Maxie & I discussed her ideas for dessert. I whispered croquembouche, never expecting her to even consider making it. Of course she did; what a triumph!

We had a mixture of French and Australian wines with our lunch and a fabulous French cheese platter to finish off - which no one could fit in unfortunately. In the process of buying my chevre at the Mart Deli (from the Frenchman) I learnt that you have to be very careful the way you pronounce cru in French as it sounds like you are saying asshole if you are not careful.
This was a wonderful way to bring back travel memories we treasure and good times with firends and family.

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