>Foire au gras and pruning the olive tree

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The foire au gras this weekend in Roujan is the beginning of the Christmas season.  People here don’t send cards, give as many presents or shop as determinedly as those in other countries, but food, as always, is important.  The foire au gras (which translates into English as ‘fat fair’, but this doesn’t sound so good), is a chance to buy foie gras, cured duck breast, whole ducks, wine, cured sausages …. all the delicious foods that are part of Christmas meals in this area, and all directly from the producers.

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The fair is held in the village hall and sports hall, a very modern setting for a traditional event.  Outside there were cheese, shellfish and vegetables stalls and amusements for children.  Inside there were rows of craft stalls and, most importantly, the wine and food producers’ stands.

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We bought a duck and some foie gras from M. Gaubert of Camp Grand in the Aveyron, who was eager to talk about his produce and give advice about cooking and serving it.  We also tasted for the first time (and bought) some excellent wines from Domaine Bonian at nearby Pouzolles.  Some say that this is an expensive way to buy these products, but I would much prefer to pay a little extra and buy from the producers, talk to them and taste, rather than buying anonymously in a supermarket.

Some people, too, I know, have reservations about foie gras production, but I think that when it is properly produced it is not cruel, unlike the mass-produced battery-farmed chicken, eggs and pork which are eaten by so many.

Pruning the olive tree

A couple of weeks ago we harvested the olives from the older and slightly larger of our two olive trees.   This tree was one we bought without thinking too much about it, soon after we bought the garden, as we wanted to plant one as soon as possible.  It has always been rather straggly and was in need of a good prune, which I did this morning.  The aim when pruning olive trees is to have space in the centre with the branches spreading outwards and this is what I’ve tried to do.

DSC00125 Before pruning . . . DSC00127

. . . and after.

Pruning like this may mean a smaller crop next year, but it should make a better shaped tree for the future.

DSC00135 I’ve taken the fresher, newer leaves to dry because I want to try olive leaf tea.  The other branches will make a good start for the fire the next time we light the barbecue.

Today’s harvest

DSC00129 Tiny parsnips and carrots (some of which were given to us by our neighbours in exchange for some parsnips, which they’d never tried before), the last of the aubergines and, hiding behind the bowl, some radishes.  We’re also picking salad leaves almost every day now.

 

 

DSC00133 And what is this doing here?  Anemones aren’t supposed to flower until the spring, but this one seems to have been fooled by the warm weather we’ve been having lately.

>Weekend treats / Les plaisirs du weekend

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La Jardinièra brought us some ceps she’d bought in the Halles Victor Hugo in Toulouse – lovely, earthy and wood-smelling, we cooked them in olive oil and butter and added chopped garlic and parsley. They were wonderful.

La Jardinièra nous a amené des ceps qu’elle avait acheté aux Halles Victor Hugo à Toulouse – ils sentaient du bois et de la terre. Nous les avons cuits à l’huile d’olive et puis nous avons ajouté de l’ail haché et du persil. Delicieux!

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Shellfish at Bouzigues / Le coquillage à Bouzigues

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Sunday lunch / le dîner de dimanche

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plateau de fruits de mer
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moules gratinées

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And, back home, we found that we’ve managed to grow some parsnips for the first time! They were lovely roasted whole in olive oil.

DSC09319Les panais – ils sont bons rotis à l’huile d’olive.

>Carrots and parsnips / Les carottes et les panais

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One of my favourite Welsh dishes is stwnts, mashed carrots and parsnips.  We’ve never been very successful with growing either of these vegetables, but we thought we’d try this year.  We’re lucky to have some help in the garden at the moment because our daughter, La Jardinièra, is staying with us and she and Lo Jardinièr prepared a bed for me to sow the seeds in.

Un de mes plats gallois favoris est le stwnts, les carottes et les panais écrasés.  Nous n’avons pas réussis avec ces légumes, mais on a decidé d’éssayer cette année.  En ce moment heureusement nous avons de l’aide dans le jardin parce que notre fille, La Jardinièra, passe quelques jours avec nous.   Avec Lo Jardinièr elle a préparé la terre pour semer les carrottes et les panais.

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They sifted the soil and mixed it with some compost and sand.  / Ils ont tamisé la terre et l’ont mélangée avec du compost et de la sable.

We followed the advice of one of our gardening neighbours: the day before we soaked the seeds in water. /  Nous avons suivi l’avis d’un voisin: la veille nous avons trempé les semences.

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We mixed the seed with sand and then broadcast it in wide rows, then covered them lightly.  /  On a mélangé les semences avec la sable et puis on les a semée à la volée.  Puis on les a couvertes légèrement.

We’ll see whether they grow! / On vera si elles poussera!

Another spring salad in the garden / Une salade du printemps du jardin encore

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Broad bean leaves, sorrel, wild rocket, parsley, spinach, oregano.  /  Feuilles de fèves, oseille, roquette sauvage, persil, épinards, oreganum.