There is something about French markets and the one at Fleurance is very typical, lots of fresh produce on display, quite a lot either organic or biodynamic for those customers that want ethical and chemical free goods, cheese galore, duck and duck related deliciousness I love them.
We had been given a task and a few Euros, to get some fruit for tarts and vegetables for dinner for later in the week, so off we went in pairs to explore the sights and smells. I was teamed up with Rad, my new foodie buddy and we looked and chatted as we wondered around the market trying to find the best we could for our time in the kitchen later.
David, our chef/host had mentioned a decent coffee stall around the corner from the main square and as we both like a brew, off we went for some quick refreshment and lured by the aroma, and the churros stall opposite we soon had a cup each in our hands.
WOW. Firstly it was only 1 Euro for a shot of Expresso! I have just checked the price of a well know chain and the price is £1.95. Yes, I know they have overheads and all that but the coffee from the stall in Fleurance was probably the best we both had ever had and to be honest, the chain stores coffee is mediocre at best, and their focus IS coffee. We continued wandering around the market square and ended back at the coffee stall. ’Fancy another Rad?’, Hell yes so another couple of Euros and we were off again, but not before I purchased a 250Grm packet to take home.
Shopping done we had arranged to meet at midday at the Café Du Centre, a large indoor/outdoor establishment which amongst other things specialised in Salads, jeez where they good. A selection of at least 7 different types there was something for everyone, I went for the ‘Duck Gizzard’ variety with a slab of Foie Gras as well, it was truly delicious, very generous with the Duck, and nicely dressed with a piquant vinaigrette.
It was interesting to note that France is suffering as much as anywhere else when it comes to inflation, the menu had previous prices blacked out, most dishes had increased by a Euro or so, but hey, the food was delicious and well worth the cost.
Back at Bernards we settled down to an afternoons ’mise en place’ prepping various dishes. I was given the task of dealing with the duck we sectioned the previous day. The legs had been sprinkled with large salt grains in preparation for confit and needed washing and drying before placing in Duck Fat on a low temperature, to bubble away gently for a few hours. There was one other task to do but to find out what it is you will have to book the course, sorry. 🙂
There is no shortage of things to do at The Gascony Cookery School, it’s one of the reasons I like it. It’s definitely not one of those ’watch the chef’ events, this is get stuck in and learn, which when you have a high pressure tech job enables you to forget work, you don’t have time to think, the perfect stress buster and escape. Bliss..
Please excuse the legs as it was hot. Here we are tackling a saddle of lamb, opening it up, carefully removing the central bone and ’tenders’ ready for adding herbs and spices and rolling and tying, before cutting into noisettes ready for cooking, they were very tasty.
I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity of french cuisine in this part of France. Whilst we were having 3 course meals, twice a day most days they were not massive portions and this main dish was all served on one platter, the lamb, a mushroom egg ’flan’ and stuffed tomatoes, no heavy starchy potato stuff but all delicious.
A really simple starter which was extremely tasty consisted of a thin pastry (the one used to make Brik à l’Oeuf, the famous Tunisian snack) wrapped around a slice of ’ginger cake’ atop a small block of goats cheese and then baked or fried, served, with a salad. You could use Filo Pastry instead. The palate cleanser was brilliant, a shot glass of ‘eau de vie’ with a sorbet, it really did the job and also had a nice kick to it.
You will probably recognise the cupboard which sits in the kitchen, the next picture above which is connected to the dinning room by a very tall door, all the doors are tall, the rooms are so big and airy, its an 18th century property and very grand indeed.
Surprisingly, we had some time to spare and so ’knocked up’ a quick dessert to finish that evenings meal off. Almonds, Egg Whites, A little Flour and Sugar (from memory) and whole Almonds. After mixing and lightly crushing they were baked and served with some Ice-Cream, Crumb and Raspberry Sauce, another winner.
There was a handy veranda for quick breaks, the odd coffee or apéritif depending on the time of day. Our location at Bernards was about 147Km from Bordeaux and on one occasion the wind had changed direction and within minutes, the smoke from the tragic wild fires had covered the landscape, the stench of burning wood filled the air, it reminded us all of the effect that extremely high temperatures where having on the planet, and this part of France.
So, another adventurous day out and about and in the kitchen we headed back to Davids to relax for a couple of hours, talk about the day and think about what the next would bring.
………………….Until Next Time……………L8ers………………