Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Settling in to Life in Burgundy

13/06/11 Our tenth day, and I'm sleeping through the night again, thank goodness. Our host/landlady, Claire, says the rule is that it takes one day  for every hour travelled from the other side of the world, and that observation has been absolutely right in my case; husband, however, was back to normal after 3 days, so obviously practise helps.

We've tried out a number of the local baguettes of course, and have found a 5-grain one which we prefer, on balance, to the plain everyday one - the only problem is that although I requested une cinque grain baguette (as it said on the label), Madame Boulangerie just looked at me blankly (sigh). Correct pronunciation does help.  The locals are very good humoured, however, in the main, they just laugh with us, shrug and go out of their way to be helpful.

We really enjoy exploring the villages, there's one over every hill, it seems, possible remnants of past practices of farm subsidies that enabled them to keep functioning - unlike in NZ. The streets are scrupulously clean but scarily narrow! and like taking a step back in time, especially in places like Auxerre, where the original foundations of medieval houses remain.

Auxerre has been a port since Roman times, and is where Joan of Arc stopped to pray on her way to Orleans, in the magnificent cathedral of St Etienne

It didn't take me long to realise that although I've got all the basics in the gite (cottage) as far as cooking is concerned, I don't have any means of weighing or measuring, so am pretty much cooking ad hoc at the moment. I've pre-written columns  for most of the time I'm out of NZ, so feel fairly relaxed about that in the meantime. We've also got where-to-go-for-what sorted, and are relieved we leased a car, an important consideration in rural France.

As far is cooking is concerned, there is such great produce, not just fresh but of course the limitless range of cheeses, preserved salami-style meats in all sizes and shapes, and irresistable desserts, and I realise it's just as well we've been walking or biking for at least an hour a day! Every market showcases their own regional, boutique produce - there are so many different kinds of goats cheese, for example. I really like the way food is valued here. Fruit is sold on the basis of 'do you want to eat it now, tomorrow, or in a week's time?', and I haven't yet bought anything that rots from the core before it ripens!

A patisserie window is full of works of art, each tart or biscuit individually presented, so much so that it seems a shame to eat it (not that that stopped me).

As for the cheeses. . .

I had planned to photograph my favourite cheese, if you really can have a favourite here. We have visited the town of Epoisse in the past, a very modest factory considering it produces one of the most famous French cheeses. In any case, unfortunately, I had to photograph just the box, as it was (I swear) quite  impossible to stop eating the last third once I'd started. Anybody who knows this cheese will understand. And I have what is said to be the top Epoisse cheese in the frig, but don't dare open it in case I can't stop -Epoisses Berthaut - mind you, I do have about eight others to be going on with, so I shouldn't feel deprived.

Back to the kitchen; everyone has things they have to take when travelling - lipstick, marmite, hairstylists for example - but not this girl.  I absolutely needed a kitchen whizz/wand to replace my processor, so this beauty was purchased in Auxerre and it was courgette soup with garlic, herbs, mascarpone and gorgonzola in no time at all.

What is she doing on a river bank with a kitchen wand in her hand? Well, just to show a little bit of the Nivernais canal, really, outside our gite.


Natasha said...

How will you ever come home? The produce sounds like a foodies dream, oh to have such a consistent quality at ones finger tips!! (Sense my current frustration at finding everything I need/want here!)
This blogsite is now a permanent icon on my iPhone home screen, would I be considered impatient to have been checking twice daily for your next update? :)
Really enjoyIng your entries and supporting images- equally also is the younger audience in our house!
il m'en faut davantage!

lamina @ do a bit said...

Wow... sounds like you are having the best time! Sounds like a really beautiful place to be and such great food YUM!!!
So funny about the kitchen whizz :D

Norma said...

Auxerre looks to be a wonderful spot to spend a few summer weeks, and with kitchen wand in hand I'm sure you'll have more delicious and delightful dishes coming out of your gite kitchen.

Love the reds and golds in the bread and cheese pic - already pinned to my Food Photography Pinterest board :)

Joy said...

WEll Ive just had a hens pair of light boiled eggs finished in buttered pan with yesterdays mashed dakotas for late afternoon tea/cum appetiser, followed an hour or so later by a double piece bounty bar entree, Mikas left over salmon sushi with slices of pink ginger for mains, and acidophillous yogurt swimming in fresh squeezed orange juice for desert. So there!

No seriously Rowan... sounds fabulous! Thankyou for this great read. Im in a trance beginning and ending with Mmm...Mmmmm....