Thursday, September 18, 2008

Organic Vegetables

We are so lucky to be in the south of France this time of year. The seasonal fruits and vegetables are now looking wonderful and delicious. We get all our vegetables in the next village of Lagamas because there is the only Organic farmer in the area selling organic fruits and vegetables. I truly believe in eating foods without chemicals and pesticides.

The fruits and vegetables here might not be as beautiful and perfectly shapes as one can find in supermarkets, but I can live without that perfection if it contains chemicals. But one things we always notice when we bite into one of Mr. Zegre's produce; the taste of the produce is out of this world. The photo below is of sweet ripe cherry tomatoes. I eat them like candy.

Mr. Zegre is the farmer (the man standing in the photo). It is amazing what comes out of his farm. He practically has everything you can think of.

He had wonderful pumpkin (for my pumpkin soup), salads, five types of egg plants, three types of potatoes, five types of tamaotes, green/ red/ yellow peppers, apricots, watermelon, etc.

This photo is of Mr. Zegre and his wife taking care of a customer. Their produce stand is actually in front of their home. Their farm is in another village.

Some of the very special produce to choose from.

More photos of the organic vegetables.

This is the church of Lagamas in front of Mr. Zegre's veggie stand.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fig Tart

So, I finally got off my ass and finally made a fig tart. After going into the garden to pick some of the finest figs from the fig tree. I made my first ever fig tart and I have to say it looks amazing. I have to say; it also taste as yummy as it looks (ok, maybe its my ego talking).

I have to stop being scared of the kitchen and start making things more often. It is a shame that I do not take advantage of all the wonderful fresh produce in the south of France.

Soon, no one will be able to get me out of the kitchen. I will become the Naked Chef of France.

La Terrasse du Mimosa

The best wine bistro in the area is in the town of Montpeyroux. Actually, it is the only wine bistro in the area. In the summer, when the weather is as gorgeous as it is now, the terrasse in the middle of place centrale is opened for dinning.

The town is very small; not much is going on, so most of the action going on is from the wine bistro. There is a baker next to the wine bistro (where the bread is made for the bistro everyday), further down is a hair salon (I have never tried it), and down the street is post office and butcher (my favourite butcher is in another village). The population of the town of Montpeyrou is about 2,000 people.

The building that La Terrasse is in now used to be the oldest dinning establishment in the area and it was called 'Cafe du Progres' which was built around the early 1800s. La Terrasse has been open now for two years and it is doing very well. The photo below is the front of the wine bistro.

The fountain with the statue is the guardian of the town, every town will have one. When you sit on the terrace, time seems to pass by slower. It is a very nice and wonderful atmosphere.

When you enter the wine bistro, you see the long wine bar where people gather for an aperitif or coffee and chit-chat about the things that are happening in the area.

For lunch, the terrace is opened, but you can also choose to dine inside the wine bistro.

For dinner, the upstairs dinning room is opened. However, if it is still warm, then the terrace is used instead of the upstairs dinning room.

We had lunch at the wine bistro and the first starter was 'mousse de pelardon de chevre et brunoise de betterave' (goat cheese mousse with beetroot). When it arrived at the table it looked like dessert. This dish fooled the eye. However, the goat cheese mousse was outstanding and the mixture with the beetroot was sensational. A very refreshing starter to the lunch.

The second starter was 'veloute de potimarron, des de jambon cru' (pumpkin soup with ham). It is now the season for pumpkin. This soup was so tasty and the extra touch of the jambon cru was a great idea. It gave the savoury taste contrast that was needed from the sweet pumpkin.

The first main dish was 'filet de perche en poudre d'amande, jus d'aneth' (filet of perche covered with almond powder and dill sauce). Though the chef is very young, she is quite inventive and good with her dishes. The fish was cooked very nicely and the flavour of the dill and lemon was lovely. The extra texture of the almond powder on the fish was very nice as well.

The second starter was 'porc au curry' (pork in curry sauce). The pork was so tender and the amount of curry used was just right to give a light taste of curry but not to over whelm the pork.

The first dessert was 'crumble aux pommes et a la cannelle' (apple crumble with cinnamon). A lovely dessert, so light and refreshing. Using the seasonal apples and red berries just makes sense for a dessert.

The second dessert was 'gateaux au chocolat' (chocolate cake). WoW! The chocolate cake was amazing. So rich and flavourful. Cooked perfectly so that the cake was very moist to the point of liquid.

La Terrasse is also a wine bar. You can come in for a glass of wine/ or bottle. The concept of the wine bistro is that if you buy the wine at the shop price and if you decide to eat in the restaurant, then for an extra eight euros corkage, you can drink the wine with your food. This concept is loved by everyone who comes to the wine bistro and it makes the wines very affordable.

Some people stopping by for a coffee in the afternoon.

This is the wine shop in the wine bistro. The concept is that La Terrasse sells all the wines that are produced in the area so to support all the wine makers of the area. This concept is also loved by everyone. La Terrasse has now become THE place to eat or drink for all the wine producers, sellers and their guest. But in the end, La Terrasse has become the nice place for everyone in the area to just meet with a fantastic ambiance, good food & wine and friendly service.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Figs from the Garden

Figs grow everywhere in our area. There are several types; white, green and purple. There are two enormous fig trees in the garden. One is in the front yard and the other is in the back yard. The enormous fig tree in front of the house, right now is full of deep purple figs. Every time we come back from a walk/ errands, etc., or before going for a walk/ errands, etc., we stop and pull one or two from the tree to eat. They are so soft, sweet and juicy.

The only problem we have with this fig tree is that every summer, it makes tons and tons of figs. We have to freeze tons of them, I have to figure out how to make fig confiture, fig tarts, fig cakes, etc. (does anyone have any fig recipes to share?). The photo below is me under the tree, sheltered with the abundance of leaves and figs.

Another problem we have (or help), is that we have strangers always walking up to the fig tree to steal the figs. Once in a while, we are in the garden and we see a woman with a bowl picking the figs, once she sees us, she runs away.

We tell all our neighbors and friends if they want figs, that they should help themselves. I hate to see all those wonderful figs go to waste.

This is the bowl of figs I just collected. I am going to bake a fig tart. I hope it turns out yummy. I will keep you posted if I get the thumbs up or down for my fig tart.

Harvest of the Vineyard

I am in the south of France for the harvest of the vineyard and loving it. The weather is absolutely wonderful, warm, sunny and a nice breeze. We are in one of the vineyards to support the grape pickers. There are eight hectares of merlot, mourvedre, carignan, grenache, syrah and chenin blanc grapes in the area of St. Brigitte.

These are the beautiful and plump mourvedre grapes.

The wine maker, Alain, always hires only ten grape pickers every year. It is amazing that every year, I see practically the same grape pickers coming back. Alain does not use harvest machines to pick the grapes. Alain makes Bio-dynamic wines and part of his philosophy is to hand pick the grapes so that they are in perfect quality when they arrive at the cave.

These are the chenin blanc grapes. I could not stop eating them; they were so sweet and juicy.

Alain's wine helpers and grape pickers having a break of wine and cheese before they start picking the grapes again.

The merlot grapes in crates on the truck ready to be taken to the cave.

A closer look at the merlot grapes in the crate.

This is going to be a very good year for the wine. We have been very lucky to have wonderful weather so far. Look for the 2008 wines. They are going to be outstanding!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Near and around the house and as well all over the area, are olive trees. The Languedoc is famous for its many varieties of olives, olive oils, tapanades, even olive oil shower gels. Anywhere you go, you can see olive trees or groves. Most of these olive trees are several hundred years old.

The olives are still green and and not yet ripe for picking. They actually look like green marbled candy on the trees.

If you wanted to buy an olive tree for your garden, the trees cost several hundred euros. So, it is better to enjoy them in nature.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

South of France

I finally arrived in Montpeyroux in the south of France for the harvest of the vineyard. We are situated in a small hamlet called St. Etienne. Here are some photos of the area around and near the house.

We are surrounded by beautiful vineyards.

We are taking a walk and enjoying the 23 degree, sunny and windy day. The unbelievable crisp and fresh air that we get in the south of France. It is quite a difference from the hussle and bussle of a big city like Bangkok.

This is the view from walking down from the house and walking into the vineyard.

This is the view from being in the vineyard and looking up the hill at the house (you can see the roof and windows).

This is a very small and very old church (not sure how old but we know it was built some time in the 1600's) in the vineyard near the house.

We came back from our walk and enter from behind the gardens to the house. The house is hidden and surrounded by foliage and the garden.

Coming up next; photos of the harvest and the wonderful & beautiful in-season fruits and vegetables of the area as well as other regional foods such as cheese and meats. Yummy!!! Please stay-tuned.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

La Table de Joel Robuchon

We have been hearing wonderful things about La Table de Joel Robuchon, a two starred Michelin restaurant. So, it was time to experience it for ourselves. We also decided to go to 'La Table' because we could make reservations, instead of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, which you cannot and take your chances to get a table. I do not have to go to details for you who Joel Robuchon is. If you are a foodie, you will know his name. He is just one of THE most famous French chefs. He has expanded his empire all over the world now.

We entered the restaurant and were led to the table by the restaurant manager through another door. Once you enter, the first thing you notice is that La Table de Joel Robuchon's decor theme is all black & gold. The carpet, the uniforms, the table clothes, the chairs are black; while the walls and lighting fixtures are gold for contrast. The room is much darker & moodier than the photo below shows.

It was good that we made reservations for lunch. The room was full. Though the room was decorated for fine dining, it is more casual than it appears. People were dressed in jeans and/ or simple attire.

We came to Le Table because we read that they had a very affordable lunch menu for only 55 euros. Very affordable for a restaurant at this calibre. The Menu consist of a choice of hors d'oeuvre (5 to choose from), choice of poisson or viandre (six choices of fish or meat to choose from), fromage, dessert, cafe et 37,5 cl de vin (one bottle for two people) et un bouteille de l'eau.

The amuse-bouche was mousse de fois gras. This was really nice tasting. The dish was made of a mousse of fois gras with the foam of port. After we scooped up a spoon of the custardy mousse and foam and put it into your mouths, both flavours melted in our mouths and left a long taste.

The first starter was 'les filet de rouget marine aux fins aromates a la vinagrette d'agrumes'. The rouget was firm and had a taste that struck your taste buds right away due to the acidity of the vinegrette. A nice melange of fresh seasonal salads and seaweed. All the textures and flavours were very nice.

The second starter was 'l'oeuf cocotte, creme legere aux champignons de nos sous-bois'. One of my favourites and when I see this dish on the menu, I normally order it. The cream of mushroom sauce was rich in taste, the mushroom pieces added texture and the egg was perfectly soft and the blend of both flavours was great.

The first main course was 'le merlan frit Colbert, buerre aux herbes'. This is the famous dish Le Table is famous for. This is actually why we came to this restaurant. The fish is de-boned and turned inside out and deep fried to a golden brown. Its rare to find this dish in restaurants (I have no idea why). The fish was cooked perfetly, the meat still pinkish in the center. The meat was delicate and tasted very nice.

The pomme puree that came with the dish is of course the world's most famous pomme puree. It was Robuchon who introduced this unbelievable potato dish. This dish probably consist of 80% butter and only 20% potato and is indeed not very good for your cholesterol levels. But once you taste the potatoes, you actaully don't care because the taste is out of this world.

The second main course was 'l'aile de raie dans une fine nage de moules de Bouchot'. The raie was incredibly fine and firm. The sauce that accompanied the raie was very light but full of textures and flavours from the moules.

The cheese was brie de meaux affine. Before dessert, we got a cheese plate. The brie was soft, rich and tasty.

The first desserts du jour was 'marine peche aux jus du peche'. I do love being in France in the summer to eat seasonal fruits. This dessert had great tasting peaches marinated in its own juices. A very nice way to end the meal, the dessert was not too sweet and very light.

The second desserts du jour was 'gateaux de pistache'. A heavier dessert than the peaches but I wanted to taste it for contrast. This dessert was rich and flavourful with pistachios. It was a layered cake with cream of pistachio and accompanied with pistachio ice cream. Very decadent.

The wine that came with our lunch was 2005 Chateau Tire Pe. The wine is mostly made of merlot and it was soft, fleshy and well-balanced. It went well with the food. We normally do not drink for lunch because it kills our whole day because we get to tired and sleepy. But, the bottle was part of the menu, so how can we refuse?

The restaurant was a very nice experience, great & friendly service, delicious food and great value. We definately will have return for more.

La Table de Joël Robuchon
16 Ave Bugeaud 75116 - 16th Arrondissement
Metro: 8 line to Victor Hugo
Phone: 01 56 28 16 16