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The Vigneron at work

27 Oct
squeeze those babies

squeeze those babies

That’s it.  The grapes are all in and the Vigneron is content.  No more 24/7 reading of satellite images and predicted weather patterns on numerous websites, he can relax and is relieved that this region has been pretty bloody lucky with its weather.

The grapes on the vines looked great and ripened slowly resulting in fruit with a lower baume and high maturity.  So, enfin, 2013 looks like a good year!  The man is happy.

Autumn vines, La Liviniere

Autumn vines, La Liviniere

Autumn vines 2

I came down from the hill rather early a couple of mornings ago and had a peek at what was going on in the cellar.  I love the smell in there.  Takes me back to when we met.  OK squeaky violins time – yes, harvest time is special for me, it was during a harvest, all those years ago, that the V and I met.  I was in my hometown, Adelaide and he was ‘the Frenchie’, with little English (come on, admit it), clad in King Gee work gear, a divine Roman nose, working long vintage hours for a winemaker friend – that swept me off my feet.

Fast forward a decade or more, and I am still smitten when I smell the tanks of fermenting grapes in the cellar (oh to bottle this in a jar, a quick whiff and happy married couple all over again…).

‘Les Vendanges’ is a dynamic time and as I’ve said many times before, the village comes alive when the grapes are coming in.  A whole year’s work is reaping its rewards and the old tractors are out on every village road, chugging in full force with trailers laden with glistening grapes.  Even our baby was born on the first day of an Aussie harvest…

But let me get back to where I started.  I was in the village early one morning this week and called in on the V to see what was going on in his cellar.  The red grapes are all resting in their tanks and every couple of days they’re  ‘pumping-over‘.  After a month of this, they will put it all through the press.  One more step towards a delightful, drinkable juice.

Here’s some images for you from that morning, in and out of the cellar…

hq bn

ben at work

Benji in the cellar

Benji and Yves

grenache

grenache!

juicy Grenache

nose

gren a gren bthe Grenache resting in wooden 'tank'

the Grenache resting in wooden ‘tank’

And over the road…

the neighbours opposite

the neighbours opposite, Domaine Arnaud

yves 2

…another neighbour, another Yves – of Chateau Faiteau, the cousin of Domaine Arnaud…(in a village, it’s all family)

Eloise

Eloise, downtown La Liviniere

downtown La Liviniere

Eloise and Fanny

Eloise and Fanny

nap

heart door

hearts

laundry wall

aut col

…and the ride back up the hill to home

autumn col 1

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“The Frenchman”

26 Sep
you may be thinking I have a fondness for the older French folk?  I do. Two fyi's... the bathing belle with the Aussie flag is actually French and happens to be our ex-fishmonger - and there are two VIPs in the midst...

You may be thinking I have a fondness for the older French folk? I do.
And two fyi’s… the bathing beau with the Aussie flag is actually French and happens to be our ex-fishmonger… and there are some VPo VIPs in the midst…

Ah Frenchie men. Rummaging through my mum’s cookbooks back in Adelaide this Summer, I spied this gem with a wonderful text on – The Frenchman.

The Browns, Cora, Rose  and Bob, "The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France," Arco Publishers Limited, 1956

The Browns – Cora, Rose and Bob, “The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France,” Arco Publishers Limited, 1956

continental cookery book text

“…sanctified seriousness, …a rubbing of hands and tummy”

1956. To quote the Browns (Cora, Rose and Bob):

                                        “The Frenchman is informal enough at his plain morning cafe au lait with a brioche or croissant, newspaper and cigaret, but

                                          he approaches both lunch and dinner with sanctified seriousness, a rubbing of hands and tummy, crackling and tucking in of napkins,        

                                          anticipatory peeping under dish covers.  At table nothing must interfere with his enjoyment,

                                          the slightest interruption is resented and no visitor would presume to butt in on this devout ritual…”  (p.277, The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery, 1956)

1956.  Not much has changed.

Roti de Porc au Lait (Roast Milk Pork) …tonight!

25 Sep

LOVED this dish tonight!  I know I’ve put this recipe up earlier this year, but had to share it again… with the “NEW”photos!

The nights are cooler, Benji is now in harvest swing and it’s time to cook up some warm, slow-cooked meals…  Bon app.

delicious 'Porc au Lait'

delicious ‘Porc au Lait’

I was on the phone to Mum and Dad last week and mentioned that I’d just cooked up some Milk Pork – ‘Porc au Lait’ – for the next day’s dinner.  It’s funny, these conversations about food are always totally out of whack with our time zones.  It was 11pm my time and 8.30am the following morning, their time.  Normally it’s me cleaning up the breakfast dishes as Dad explains with excitement what he’s got on the stove for dinner.

I’ve never served them Porc au Lait but I know they’d love it.  It ticks all our family’s favourite food boxes:  MEAT, lots of sauce, herbs, garlic and the required ‘three veg’ – and it is easy to prepare.  It’s one of those old-fashioned French dishes that is simply delicious comfort food.  My husband and mother-in-law showed me how to cook this years ago and I can’t count how many times I’ve prepared it since.  We had the poker men for dinner + a few UK visitors and it went down a treat with the new ‘Boulevard Napoleon‘ wines – white and red.

the empties:  the Boulevard Napoleon Grenache Gris white and a few reds...

the empties: the Boulevard Napoleon Grenache Gris white and a few reds…

had to show you these beautifully coloured carrots - they actually gave the milk sauce an almost mauve tint by the end

had to show you these beautifully coloured carrots – they actually gave the milk sauce an almost mauve tint by the end

After the meat has been cooking for awhile in the milk, drop the vegies and parsley in

After the meat has been cooking for awhile in the milk, drop the vegies and parsley in

amples of milk sauce...

amples of milk sauce…

...to serve with this tender juicy meat.  The butcher told me the pork roll was 'parsleyed' ('persille') - I thought he meant stuffed with parsley, but he laughed and corrected me - no, it is the lines of fat running through the piece , 'marbled' as we might say.  Even the Vigneron hadn't heard of this!

…to serve with this incredibly juicy meat. The butcher told me the pork roll was ‘parsleyed’ (‘persille’) – I thought he meant stuffed with parsley, but he laughed and corrected me – it actually refers the lines of fat running through the piece , ‘marbled’ as we might say. Even the Vigneron hadn’t heard of this term, so I was proud to bestow some francais on him.

Roti de Porc au Lait

serves 6-8

ingredients:

1.5kg roll of roasting pork – preferably of shoulder (fillet is drier and less fat, don’t want that)

1 litre full cream milk

2 large onions, sliced

6 carrots, cut into in large chunks

8 potatoes, as above

8 small turnips, as above

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 sprigs fresh thyme

bunch fresh sage (about 10-12 leaves)

2 sprigs rosemary

oil, butter

salt, pepper

method:

Fry up the onions in heavy cast iron pot with a big chunk of butter (30-40g) and a little olive oil, until golden.

Add the roll of pork and brown on each side over medium -high heat.

When the meat is almost all browned, add the garlic and salt, pepper to taste.  I find garlic burns very easily, so I add it near the end of the browning.

Pour over the milk (meat should be 3/4 covered, if not add more ) and add the herbs.

Cover with lid and let simmer for an hour.

Add the carrots and turnips and keep simmering for another hour.

Add potatoes and keep simmering until they are tender.

Serve with lashings of dijon mustard on the side and a big white or red wine!

N.B.  If this is prepared the night before eating, I don’t add any of the vegetables until the next day.

And.  I cook this for a few hours, the longer the better.  I like it when the meat falls apart.  A lot of recipes cook it for less though, and you keep the form of the pork roll and then slice it.  As the French would say, ‘as you want’…

harvest is coming

19 Sep

la liv panneau

…any day now.

Benji’s hovering over the grapes, ready to pick what will be a very late harvest… it’s about three weeks later than previous years.

And he has a (very enthusiastic) little helper, checking on sugar levels.

lilas checking grapes

sweet berry picking

4 Sep
Lilas and her pickings ...not quite the ripe grapes papa is hoping for, but they taste just as good

Lilas and her pickings …not quite the ripe grapes papa is hoping for, but they taste just as good

A little mini update from the vineyards…

‘Les Vendanges’ (harvest) will begin remarkably late for us this year, with picking beginning as late as one week from now.  Yes we’re enjoying beautiful sunny days in these first few days of September, but the grapes are having a hard time ripening due to 2013’s fairly cool Spring and late Summer.   Waiting waiting waiting.  Benji’s getting those annual, pre-mens vendanges nerves and I’m keeping food on the table…

But even if the grapes aren’t all sweet and ripe for the picking, there is some ripe fruit to be had…  After an evening’s inspection of the vignes (vines), we’ve been tucking into the wild mures (blackberries) out the back!… 

grape walk3

grape walk 2

grape walk

berry picking season

berry picking season 2

And hey Dad, Happy Birthday!!….

Cheers, Sante, Bottoms Up …to Marieke Hardy

11 Jun

OK straight up.  I love drinking.

And I love this woman.

marieke hardy book

She likes drinking too –

“My illustrious career with the bottle began with the person my mother used to refer to somewhat hopefully as ‘your naughty friend’, Lisa Jenkins, implying that without Lisa’s influence I would probably have spent my downtime cross-stitching and nursing sick orphans”…  – Marieke Hardy, ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead’

And she is so hellishly cheeky.   I loved this book.  It’s beautiful, funny, poignant, sexy, delirious, profound – and so, so WRONG.

READ HER!

Marieke Hardy at her book signing for "You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead", at Mosman Library on Monday 19 September (photo courtesy of the Mosman Library)

Marieke Hardy at a book signing for “You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead”, Mosman Library, N.S.W., Monday 19 September (photo courtesy of the Mosman Library)

some sights #7 – pics from the South!

5 Mar

Hey, hey it’s time for some more sights from around our ‘hood!

I'm always passing this old 'cave co-operative'  - the date on the facade always reminds me of some special people back home, and now there's always this lovely old Renault '4L'

I’m always passing this old ‘cave co-operative’, ‘Costos Roussos‘ – the date on the facade always reminds me of some special people back home(!), and now there’s always this lovely old Renault ‘4L’

This was a first for me...  the ladies in the market vans had old quilts and blankets protecting their produce on a recent market morning.  It was below freezing and bloody cold!

This was a first for me… the ladies in the market vans had old quilts and blankets protecting their produce on a recent market morning. It was below freezing and bloody cold

... and on this moring it was -4 degrees

… and on this morning it was -4 degrees

It's starting to snow, approaching Chateau Violet - a beautiful old wine property near us

It’s starting to snow, approaching Chateau Violet – a beautiful old wine property near us

Saturday morning at the supermarche... preparing delicious 'Aligot'  - yes, a delightfully light, refreshing dish, composed of cheese, cream, potatoes, cheese, garlic, butter and then some more cheese

Saturday morning at the supermarche… preparing delicious ‘Aligot‘ – yes, a delightfully light, refreshing dish, composed of cheese, cream, potatoes, cheese, garlic, butter and then some more cheese.  Come on, it IS light – really!

Wine of the Month in our house- 'Boulevard Napoleon' with local smallgoods (where are you Dad?!)

Wine of the Month in our house:
the recently bottled ‘Boulevard Napoleon‘ with local smallgoods (where are you Dad?!)

the local hospital for the old metalheads

the local hospital for the old metalheads

Sunday night and pooch is hangin' at the pizza van

Sunday night and pooch is hangin’ at the pizza van

hot drinks at the cafe after a playing in the park...but check out the tele, the kids are getting clued up on winemaking

Hot drinks at the cafe after playing in the park
…but check out the tele! – the kids are getting clued-up on winemaking

downtown Narbonne

Downtown Narbonne

Carcassonne market

Carcassonne market

butcher collage 2a

Meat, anyone? Delicacies at the Carcassonne market… lungs, heart, tripe. Note: bottom right in the tripe corner, the butcher has his Rose ready and chilling

...and another glass of Rose.  ONe of the many perks of living around here is the access to delicious, cheap wines served from tap straight out of the wall of our cave co-ops - simply BYO your own bottle

…and another glass of Rose.
One of the many perks of living around here is the access to delicious, cheap wines served from tap straight out of the wall of our cave co-ops – simply BYO your own bottle…

I love this - it's Pierre the baker's price list at the Olonzac market

I love this – it’s Pierre the baker’s price list at the Olonzac market

check out the airbrush work on the hot rod... a Renault 4L van

Check out the airbrush work on the hot rod
… a Renault 4L van

our local school celebrates 'Carnaval' each year, where everybody accompanies the school kids on floats in a tour of the village

Our school celebrates ‘Carnaval‘ each year, where everybody accompanies the school kids on floats in a tour of the village

A few things from last weekend's 'Vide-Grenier' (village garage sale):  some keyrings and an old "Science et Vie' magazine from 1944.Ashamed to say I get obssessed with many things, advertising keyrings from the 60s is one of them!  And I've just discovered there is even a name for it - 'Copoclephliie' (!!)

A few things from last weekend’s ‘vide-grenier’ (village garage sale): some keyrings and an old “Science et Vie’ magazine from 1944.
Ashamed to say I get obssessed with many things, advertising keyrings from the 60s for eg! And hang on, I’ve even discovered there’s a name for it – ‘Copoclephliie‘ (!!)

my favourite view coming out of Olonzac

my favourite view coming out of Olonzac

...and a favourite close to home, this wall in our hamlet

…and a favourite close to home, this wall in our hamlet

favourites, favourites, I think I have a thing about apples?

Favourites, favourites… now I promise this one wasn’t planned!  I think I have a thing about apples? (you started it Mum!)

on the road, yesterday

on the road, yesterday

Short, back and sides in lovely Toulouse

Short, back and sides in lovely Toulouse

the old 'manege' (carousel), downtown Toulouse

the old ‘manege’ (carousel), Toulouse

Phew, I hope you got through that!

xo

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