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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

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’…

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

Roti de Porc au Lait (Roast Milk Pork)

1 Feb
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’…

allo allo – pics from the 2012 harvest

2 Nov

It’s Thursday and our turn poker night at our house.  The guys were insepcting the labels for a new wine of Benji’s that’s about to be bottled and then got stuck into drinking some others.

poker tonight

Inspecting Vincent’s labels for a new Benji wine coming soon, ‘Boulevard Napoleon’.  (and a thank you to monsieur p for your hand modelling work)

I was so excited, Benji put a great bottle of white in the freezer and I left them (wringing my hands in anticipation) in the kitchen as they sat down to play.  Half-an-hour later I reminded Benji about his bottle chilling and he held one up and said ‘Oh this one? It’s finished’.  My mouth dropped.  The scoundrels!

Comtes Lafon

Comtes Lafon MEURSAULT-GOUTTE D’OR 2009 Chardonnay

Time to come to the computer and vent some steam.

(I should admit I got to bring a twentieth of a glass of chardonnay with me – so generous of you fellas)

I’d been meaning to put up some long-overdue photos anyway.

So for you,  here’s a round-up of the 2012 grape harvest in our little area, the village of La Liviniere, in the Minervois region.  In our village alone, of approxiamtely 600 people, there are 16 vignerons (winemakers/vineyard owners producing their own brand) and about 150 viticulturalists processing their grapes with the local Cave Co-operative.

vineyards in Calamiac

It’s been a good harvest and people seem pretty happy about what they’ve picked – despite the kaleidoscope of weather.  Essentially, we had good rain, good sun, good wind and the vineyard owners and vignerons are happy to see their babies off the vines and in the tanks.

Gone for the moment the need to check on the weather patterns 24/7 and the worries of the wiles of Nature , it’s now time to work inside the cellars and nurture the juice.

While the viticulteurs take it easier, the vignerons need to keep up a a seven day working week.  It is now that crucial decisions, with their accompanying stress, need to be made regarding the precious juice and its management and development.

However, I can say that the general climate in our house is now pleasantly mild with fewer storms brewing on the front .

But not if the wine isn’t shared around.

calamiac harvest time

calamiac, harvest time

tractor

lunchtime break in the village

man, dog, harvester

morning rain in Calamiac

raining one afternoon…

sun over vines

…sunny the next

morning talk at harvester

morning chat by the harvester

lilas on the terrace

calamiac rainbow

lilas rainbow

the neighbouring vigneron's pickers

the neighbouring vigneron’s pickers

the alternative

…the alternative

lilas watching the harvester

watching the harvester from the house, early morning

harvester at home with clothes line

dry stone wall and vines

early morning calamiac

early morning, calamiac

sun over our vines

clouds and vines

some sights #5 – images from the Minervois

21 Sep
the view from Chateau Maris
a view from Chateau Maris
Vendanges

HARVEST!

the eggs!

Now this is crazy (but beautiful) …LES OUEFS! – these are the egg-shaped tanks used to age wine in the Maris winery.
I keep thinking Mork from Ork is going to crack out of one…

inside the new Chateau Maris cellar

Jean-Pierre in the Chateau Maris winery yesterday (the walls are made of hemp!)

harvest in La Liviniere

harvest in La Liviniere

la liviniere

driving from La Liviniere

oncoming 2CV in Rieux

oncoming 2CV in Rieux

DANGER!!  Blonde behind the wheel

DANGER!! Blonde behind the wheel

Homps

Homps

Mauzac Nature 2011

Now this was hard, parting with this bottle today to throw it into the recycling bin.  It was SO delicious!! A sparkling white that almost tasted like a very dry cider. Lucky the bottle was big, it went down so quickly!
(Merci Isabelle et Vincent)

last night's tomatoes

Last night’s tomatoes.
Got to make the most of these babies before the season is out.

Saint Chinian flags

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge in Saint Chinian

pooch parade

pooch parade

carca wine shop

wine shop in Carcassonne

door handle

‘une poignee’ (door handle)

hanging the laundry

hanging out the laundry

European Carpenter Bees

European Carpenter bees in the garden

thongs, flip-flops, claquettes

‘thongs’ in my home (yes, not the ones on your butt), ‘flip-flops’ in the UK and the US, ‘Jandals’ in NZ, ‘slops’ in South Africa, ‘schlapfen’ in Austria… ‘tongs’ or ‘claquettes’ in France. I like this one – Lilas said the name comes from the sound they make as you walk? Anyone know if this is right?

window in Saint Chinian

window with ‘fresh’ flowers

Rebecca's curry

Rebecca’s Kerala Prawn Curry, mmmmmn. The onion bahjis were a knock-out too, but my photo didn’t work out

a house inside a building

a house in a house

Grandma's Pussy

‘Grandma’s Pussy’ – from Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, Series B, Volume 10
…Really!

velo in Rieux

velo in Rieux

sunset

sunset in the garden

Les Vendanges – La Rentree

14 Sep
Lilas in the vines
Checking the grapes, the night before school goes back
lilas with a bunch

a bunch ready for the picking

It only seems like yesterday that Lilas broke up from school and started the Summer holidays at the beginning of July.

And then before I knew it, we’d been on the Naked tour, my family had come and gone, the Olympics and Paralympics ended with a bang, the Fetes de Villages had packed up for the year, our Summer friends had all been and gone…

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

…and suddenly the grapes got ripe for the picking! (‘Les Vendanges’):

VENDANGES EN LANGUEDOC, Societe des Cartes Postales APA-POUX, ALBI - 'AS DE COUER'

‘Vendanges en Languedoc’ (AS DE COEUR)

– and the new school year (‘La Rentree’) 2012-2013 started.

la classe

la classe

Come September, a different kind of ambience sets in around here.  The tourists (or most of them!) have left en masse, the weather softens and jumpers come out for nights on the terrace, the markets no longer have ‘bouchons’ (traffic jams):

Carcassonne market

Carcassonne market, August

…the local pools have shut their gates:

– and tanned bodies (just not ours) post ‘les vacances’:

skin!

Lola and Lilas

…get ready for some WORK!

following a tractor during the harvest

You often get stuck behind these people during the harvest!  Time to slow down and have some respect…

Les Vendanges a La Liviniere

‘Les Vendanges’ in La Liviniere

Les Vendanges is one of the most important events on our local calendar (most people in our village own or have some family connection/ investment in grape vines) – and each year, come September, there is the most wonderful buzz in the air.  The village hums with expectation and excitement over the ‘recolte’ (harvest) – it’s time to pick the ‘fruits’ of a long year’s labour.

Lilas and a bunch

check it out

And harvest always coincides with the kiddies going back to school after two months’ of holidays.  I still can’t quite get my head around this school ‘year’ here.  In Australia our school ‘year’ begins around the beginning of the calendar year, in February – after Xmas and at the end of Summer.  Here, each school year ends in what I would call the middle of the year, July, and then recommences in September.  And because of this schoolbooks, labels etc name the school ‘year’ as ‘2000-2001’ etc.  This year for example, is ‘2012-2013’.  I know I’m rambling.  Maybe it’s because I’m from ‘down there’ that I’m confused.

picking an apple for school

Picking an apple for tomorrow’s ‘gouter’ (afternoon snack) on the first day back at school

Anyway, back to the grapes.  The reds are just getting under way, but Benji has been picking for a couple weeks’ now as the whites here ripened earlier.  As for how this year’s harvest will be?  It’s looking good so far – relief!  The weather has been almost perfect for the grapes these last few weeks – a lot of sun and no rain – and so it all needs to come in NOW!

It will be the biggest week yet – 4am starts, working through until 6pm, 7/7.   Another couple of weeks of this, then it’s finished for the pickers and machine harvesters in the vines, but full-steam ahead in the wine cellar – managing the tanks and their juice.  Benji will maintain this crazy routine for a few more weeks yet – until the end of October.  And then it will be time to think about HIS holiday!…

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