Wed 25 Sep 2013
Sun 8 Sep 2013
We have a couple who live one floor below us who are very nice and friendly. The wife, I will call her Madam La, and Maurice have been having many meetings about the problems in our garage area and what to do to prevent that giant tent from reappearing ever again in front of our apartment building. Her husband and I are a bit more laid back and sort of follow in their wake. She’s one of those people who, no matter where they go, will bring back a gift for you filling me with anxiety because now I feel like I should do the same thing. They just returned from a wedding in Belgium and came back bearing gifts of Belgian chocolate and beer. When they arrived at our place for lunch, they had local Pineau and local cookies for us. They have had us over for dinner and Madam La prepared a feast with homemade hors d’ouvres, a very good fish and potato main dish, a big selection of expensive cheese and a fabulous apricot tart for dessert. So, of course, I wanted to make a meal for them. I am always nervous when cooking for the French. They have all of that tradition behind them and most women really know their way around the kitchen I’ve had a few disasters in my time here so I asked Maurice what he thought we should have. He loves my barbequed pork ribs and said we should serve them along with potato salad and beans. So that’s what I did. They told me they loved everything. Maybe they lied but I don’t think so.
I thought guacamole with chips were a must for a Texas meal. They had never heard of it which surprised me but they liked it. Madam La even asked me what was in it which usually means they like it-if they don’t gasp and make a face and ask with horror.
I made a little salad as the main course was going to be rather heavy. I served it on my little fish plates which were a gift from an American friend. I should have put shrimp on the salad with those plates but, oh well.
I made a good ol American potato salad and, also, some beans that I doctored up with onions and bacon and a bit of brown sugar to make them taste like what I have in Texas when we eat at a barbeque place.
We ate outside on our balcony and had on one side, the horrible view of the tent. Here are some of the chefs they had there taking a break. Maurice had me take all sorts of photos to present to various people he has come up with-Friends of Chatelaillon, the local newspaper and the leader of the party opposite of the mayor. Hopefully, we won’t have to have this in our view again. There were fireworks last night but, this being Sunday, no one worked to bring the tent down. Such is Beach Life.
Tue 6 Aug 2013
Once again I recorded Mary, my dil, making a meal. It was mussels, or moules, this time. When Maurice and I make them we sauté some onions, then add wine, salt and pepper and boil it a few minutes in a large pot, add the mussels on top and cover the pot occasionally stirring the mussels until they are all open. It’s a very tasty dish that way. Mary did the dish, as you will see, with oil and then we put a flat pan in a grill and covered the lid so the oysters cooked over heat along with being smoked. We had a problem in that my grill didn’t get hot enough or close completely so we finally had to move the pan to a hot oven to finish cooking. So we were starving by the time the mussels finished cooking-it was almost 10:30!-but the mussels tasted amazing. I had to cut out a few scenes as the baby started screaming-such is life-but I think you can see how it is all done.
Sun 4 Aug 2013
I can’t remember now how I heard about the Cordouan lighthouse but after reading about it, I was determined to visit it. It guards the entrance to the Gironde River-one of many lighthouses or posts along the Atlantic coast to keep ships safe-and it required a 30 minute boat ride to get there.
When our tour was over we took a boat to an island, due to that pesky tide, and then walked about ten minutes across the sand to a waiting boat on the other side which took us to our boat back to Royan.
Thu 1 Aug 2013
Years ago when Maurice and I visited the Medoc area, famous for it’s Bordeaux wine, we stopped at the village of Talmont sur Gironde and I wanted to see it again before the Hollihocks in the region breathe their last. It turned out that the hollihocks had about one week of blooming left-they looked really old and tired-but we did enjoy walking around the tiny village. It has 80 inhabitants but is visited by 500,000 visitors a year. You can see why when you walk up the narrow little streets to the church at the end where the land ends not at the sea but at the Gironde river.
Sun 21 Jul 2013
While we were in Corsica we rented an apartment and, with a kitchen available, did most of our own cooking. Maurice’s son and his family were with us and Mary, the girlfriend of Maurice’s son, did a lot of the cooking. She has the French flair, throwing things together and coming up with great meals. On the last night she decided to make a quiche Lorraine and I made a video of her as she put it together. I had to cut out quite a bit as the baby started crying, Maurice came into the kitchen talking and his son came in whistling but I got most of it. One thing I couldn’t use because of the noise was the fact that she used store bought crust instead of making her own. It’s really good in France and it comes with the paper that you put under the crust. You can use it to lift the quiche out of the pan if you wish when it has cooled down. It was quickly gone. Very tasty.
I read this about the history of Quiche Lorraine: It is a classic dish from the French cuisine which originally was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. Quiche actually originated in Germany in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word quiche is from the German Kuchen which means cake. At one time no cheese was added. If you add onions, as I do, it becomes a quiche Alsacienne.