The red threads of saffron from the Crocus Sativus Linnaeus are said to be worth more by weight than gold. I’m not sure of the price of gold now but saffron costs about 500 euros per kilo. Luckily it takes only a few threads to give a wonderful flavour to paellas or even desserts. A group of people in Neffiès, including the owners of the village bar, have started to grow saffron crocuses at Les Roches Rouges, on a hill above the vineyards nearby. Each year at harvest time they organise walks through the vines and up to their fields, followed by lunch of paella cooked with their own saffron. They also sell the saffron – I bought some last year and have used it in paellas throughout the year.
I posted pictures of the crocuses growing in the field last year (the photos have been slightly distorted by their move from blogger to wordpress, I’m afraid). This year the weather wasn’t so good, as we’ve been suffering, or enjoying, much needed rain for the past two days, so the lunch was held in the village hall rather than out of doors. It was still a wonderful day and this year we were able to see the flowers being poured onto a long table for a group of people who knew what they’re doing to remove the red threads.
It’s the sort of work that must be done by hand. I liked this woman’s colour coordinated saffron coloured jacket and scarf!
And then it was time to serve and eat the paella:
There were three of these huge pans, for over a hundred people.
The dessert (which I forgot to photograph) was a poached pear with saffron cream custard and chocolate sauce. We drank local wines, of course, a white primeur (the new wine, only just ready to drink and made from grapes harvested at the end of the summer, like the better-known Beaujolais nouveau) for the apéritif and a good red with the food. Local eau de vie was offered with the coffee, but I can’t take anything as strong as that at lunch time!