Archive for the ‘…en Fete’ Category

h1

Welcome home Corbasson’s…

July 5, 2010

The Corbasson’s  have returned from their 9 month trek across north and south America along with the final bottle of Cousignac, the Côtes du Rhône red.   The bottle traveled 45400 kilometers from our humble winery in the Ardèche to New York City to the final stop in Ushuaia where it was stamped by customs.

We invited the Corbasson family over for a welcome home bbq and of course, to share bottle number 12.  We all wanted to hear about their adventures in more detail and we were full of questions.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many times since their return they had answered the same questions and told the same stories.  Were they reliving their adventures by recounting them to us?  I understood that their most memorable moments were those unexpected meeting with locals who extended extraordinary hospitality.  At one time, they were invited to stay the week with the taxi driver who collected them after their camper broke down.  They accepted and passed a week sharing every aspect of daily life with this extended family.  I don’t remember where they said they were at the time but I do know it was in south America.

After tasting the travelling Côtes du Rhône, which everyone agreed had held up nicely given the distance and motion and lack of proper storage conditions it had been subjected to, we surprised the family with a few ‘bottles’ as a keepsake of their journey; four magnums. The first a Côtes du Vivarais Red christened Amerique du Nord, a Côtes du Rhône for Amerique Central, and a Côtes du Rhône Village for Amerique du Sud.  The final bottle – a cuvée Ardèsc.

Four magnums and the travelling Côtes du Rhône. Oh, and the Corbasson's with Raphael.

The Corbasson’s invited us along on their adventure by sharing moments on their blog, http://corbasson-trip.blogspot.com/ .  Before they left, they stopped by our winery and purchased 12 bottles of wine to share with the new friends they would make along the way.  They were taking a piece of France with them, they said.  Each wine was opened at a precise location and marked in their blog as an episode;  the first ‘episode’ was at the White House.  The final was upon their return to France and the bottle’s return to Cousignac.

h1

C’est le carnaval…

March 19, 2010

This afternoon was warm and sunny for today’s carnaval.  A slight breeze drifted in from the south announcing possible rain for the weekend but no one was paying attention.  All revelers were riveted on the drum playing trapeze act in the Champs du Mars.   

 The brightly colored musicians pounded away as a large yellow crane spun them slowly in a circle over the crowd of amazed school children.    

   

The theme of this year’s carnaval was les Couleurs.   A parade of children from the three elementary school’s in town all joyfully dressed in their deguisements marched from their schools to the Mairie.     

 

  
Olivia’s class was ‘La Mer’, ‘Les Coquelicots’, L’Arc en Ciel’ et ‘Les Coeurs’. Olivia was the sea.

 

    

Auriane was a little painter.

Angeline chose her deguisement.

We stood around for 45 minutes listening to the three bands compete for attention.    

 

After a quick speech from the mayor which no one heard despite the blow horn, (No competing with a couple hundred kids.) the parade made its way to the Champs de Mars for the flying spectacle. 

Kid’s, teacher’s and mommy’s, are happily tired this evening after a successful Carnaval.

h1

Crêpes for prosperity and happiness?

February 8, 2010

Waiting for crêpes at a crêpe stand on the streets of Montelimar.

 

February 2nd was not just the Day of the Sonogram.  In France, it is La Chandeleur, better known as Crêpe day.   (So I’m a little late with this post having been sidetracked last week by babies and dogs.) 

Before it became crêpe day, however, La Chandeleur was a Roman celebration during which the Romans walked the streets by night waving candles in honor fo their god Pan.  In the 3rd century the celebration was Christianized by Pope Gelase who organized candlelight processions of believers to the village church in celebration of Christ’s being presented in the temple 40 days after his birth.  Years later, the peasants got it into their head that if they didn’t make crêpes on the Chandeleur, all the wheat would go bad.  Thus, La Chandeleur became the day of making and eating crêpes and somewhere along the way the religious celebration of the day became lost.   

Crêpe making comes with its own superstitions and traditions.  The most important is the tradition of the golden coin.  This one was definitely one I had to try.  So for the afternoon gouter, the girls and I tried out the crêpe tossing tradition.  The first crêpe made on February 2 must be flipped holding the pan in the right hand while holding a golden coin in the left hand.  For lack of a golden coin, I held a gold colored 50 centime coin in my left hand so already I was one point down.  The next step was really the big issue.  If the flipper successfully lands the crêpe flat in the pan the person will have happiness until the following year.  Raphael wandered into the kitchen just as I was preparing for the toss and flip stage of the crêpe making.  Observing my lack of technique, he insisted he show me how to do it properly.  First you need to slip a spatula around the perimeter of the crêpe to loosen it.  As it fully cooks, the crêpe will loosen on its own and it’s ready to be flipped.  Raphael got it flat on the first try.  Then to show off he flipped it back.  What kind of luck does one get if the crêpe lands half over the side of the pan, sticks to the pan and when you try to remove it, rips in two?  It’s a good thing I don’t believe in superstition.  

But that’s not all.  The first crêpe is not to be eaten.  After a successful flip, the gold coin is rolled inside the crêpe and the entire family must somberly proceed to the master bedroom where the crêpe, with gold coin, is placed on the highest armoire until the following year.  The remains of the previous years’ crêpe, after the rodents and crawly bugs have had their share, are tossed in the garbage and the gold coin is given to the first poor person to pass through the door.  No matter how much the girls wanted to make this procession to my bedroom, I was not about to leave a piece of food on top of my dresser for a year, with or without gold coin.  It’s bad enough I periodically find various pieces of cookie and other undistinguishable food items in corners of rooms, under cushions, in shoes (don’t ask), a present from a child.   If all these rituals are followed, the family is guaranteed to have money all year long.      

Crêpes are not just a treat to be enjoyed on February 2nd.  In Paris, and other cities, Crêperies are like a crêpe café, small restaurants that specialize in, well, crêpes.  Salty crêpes are filled with egg, ham and cheese.  Sweet crêpes, the kind eaten on La Chandeleur, are filled with anything from simply sugar or jam to Grand Marnier and even maple sirup (although I haven’t yet found a really good maple sirop in France).  Here in the south, a popular filling is crème de chatagne, a rich chestnut cream often mixed with vanilla.  But by far the most popular filling is Nutella, a nutty chocolate spread.    

And so begins a month of crêpe eating.   

Pate a Crêpe   

About 2 cups flour (If the batter is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water at the end)   

1 tsp salt   

1 Tbls vanilla extract and 2 Tbls sugar   

3 eggs   

2 cups milk (For a richer batter use 1 cup milk and 1 cup liquid cream.  For a lighter batter use 1 cup milk and 1 cup water.  But really, if you’re going to eat crêpes anyway, go for the richer batter.)   

1 Tbls melted butter   

1 Tbls oil (anything but olive)   

In the south, we also add a splash of orange flower water, eau de fleur d’orangier.   

Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add the eggs and beat with a whisk.  Mix all the liquid ingredients (except the orange flower water) in a separate bowl.  Slowly whisk the liquid mixture into the dry mixture until it is smooth.      

Refrigerate the batter for at least one hour but the longer the better.  It will thicken up slightly.  This is a good time to d the orange flower water or rum or water if you prefer.   

Tips: 

While there are special crêpe pans, a skillet works perfectly.  Pour a little oil, about a tablespoon and a half to two into the pan and spread around the entire bottom with a paper towel.  This removes any extra oil.  Between each crêpe, rub the oily towel on the pan.  Make sure the pan is very hot before you begin making the crêpes.  Use a soup ladle to pour the batter into the pan then immediately twist the pan around until the batter covers the entire bottom.  It  might take one or two crêpes before you get the right amount to batter into the pan for the perfect thickness.    

Yum!