Quick ‘n easy!

The apricot season has started!!  Last Sunday I bought my first apricots of the season from one of the vendors in the market in Saint-Chinian.  Mr Cathala grows all kinds of fruit in Argeliers, not far from Saint-Chinian, and he sells his fruit at the market on Thursdays and Sundays!

I bought two different kinds of apricots from Mr Cathala.  I’m no longer sure what the names of the two varieties were – they were both delicious even though they were very different from one another!

The red ones were somewhat smaller than the apricot coloured ones, and their flesh was softer.  Both were juicy, with the apricot coloured ones tasting sweeter.

When I went last fall to visit Top Fruits, a pick-your-own farm also in Argeliers, I signed up to their mailing list.  With the fruit-picking season now under way, I receive weekly newsletters from Sarah Pearce at Top Fruits.  She always concludes her newsletter with a couple of recipes, and this week’s apricot recipe was perfectly timed for my purchases!

I decided to use the firmer apricots for Sarah’s Poele d’abricots aux pain d’epices, pan-fried apricots with gingerbread.  The ingredients are simply apricots, butter, and pain d’epices.

Sarah’s recipe called for 16 apricots, 15g butter and four slices of pain d’epices.  Since my apricots were on the large side, I decided to use only five (they were about double the size of a regular apricot), but kept the butter and pain d’epices quantities of the original recipe.

I cut the apricots in half, removed the stones and sliced the apricot halves thickly.  The pain d’epices was cut into small dice.

As my frying pan is on the small side, and since I didn’t want the apricot slices to be too crowded in the pan, I fried the apricots in two batches.  I heated the butter over high heat until it started to brown, then added the apricots.

After about a minute I gave the apricot slices a gentle stir.

After a further minute of cooking, it was time to add the diced pain d’epices.

Another gentle stir, and voila, dessert was ready!!

This was a wonderfully tangy dessert with great flavour!!  There was too much for two people, so we ate the leftovers on the following day.  It tasted even better, as the flavour of the  pain d’epices had had a chance to meld with the apricots!  Better still was the scoop of vanilla ice cream I had bought to go with the leftovers :)!!

How do you like your apricots??

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Vintage Signs

I’d like to share a post from http://www.francetaste.wordpress.com with you today. I’m fascinated by these ghosts of the past, and have a fair few pictures of them on my computer. One of these days I will share them with you – promise!

Taste of France

P1070809Like ghostly apparitions, advertisements from an earlier age whisper hints about the past lives of buildings and places.

There was a bakery here before?

IMG_5851 Rue Trivalle, Carcassonne

A cured-meat shop down the street? I love the specificity. Not just a butcher, but charcuterie–sausage, ham, cold cuts and such.

IMG_3607 Béziers

This one was near the charcutier. A rival? Salaisons are salted foods, mostly ham and such. Wholesale and retail, it says. Felix B. was called the nice (gentil) something. I wonder what!

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This little place was an auto garage? It’s true that cars were smaller back then. The buildings on these streets are very old–13th century mostly–very narrow, with low ceilings. But if you’re a mechanic, you find a way to make your business.

IMG_2161 Rue Trivalle, Carcassonne

Again, the specificity: wines for Catholic Mass. The second line most likely read vins de dessert–dessert wines–because Banyuls wines are…

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Season’s Greetings

As the festive season is upon us, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful time over the holidays!  I’ll be taking a few weeks off – look out for my next post in 2018.  Until then, stay healthy and happy!

Olive grove in the snow

Tragic events

Once again I am speechless.  What should have been a day of national celebration has been turned into a tragedy.  Scores of people are mourning loved ones, and many more have been traumatised by the events in Nice.  My sympathies and prayers go to all those who have been affected by this senseless act of terrorism.

Remembering Charles

I wonder how many of you have heard of the French singer Charles Trenet?  If you haven’t heard of him, you have probably heard one of his songs, perhaps La Mer (Beyond the Sea) or Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (I wish you love).  Both songs have been covered by many artists – have a look for them on the net, you’ll find many of them!  Charles Trenet was a big star in France, and most people know the lyrics to some of his songs.

What the Wikipedia page fails to mention under the heading ‘Early life’, is that Trenet’s father was the notary in Saint-Chinian at the time Charles was born.  Although he was born in Narbonne, little Charles spent his first years in Saint-Chinian, where he took piano lessons from a local music teacher.  The house where the Trenets used to live, is today the Maison des Vins and the veterinary practice – at some time it was divided into two.

Earlier this year year, the municipality of Saint-Chinian decided that it would be fitting to remember the fact that Charles Trenet was once a citizen of Saint-Chinian.  To that end, the Rue de la Promenade was recently re-named  Avenue Charles Trenet!

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The re-naming ceremony took place outside the Maison des Vins, one recent Sunday.  The sun shone, and the atmosphere was festive!  Part of the ceremony was the induction of three of Charles Trenet’s collaborators into the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Saint-Chinian, the Fellowship of the AOC Saint-Chinian.

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Of course there was an aperitif after the official business had been completed!

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The “festivities” continued in the abbatiale, the former abbey church.  Here a monumental picture of Charles Trenet was unveiled, hanging on the end wall.  It looks impressive, doesn’t it??

Jean-Pierre Tutin and Jean-Jaques Debout, both of whom knew Charles Trenet very well, were playing some of the Trenet repertoire, while the rest of us snacked on cheese and apple cake.

Jean-Pierre Tutin

Jean-Pierre Tutin

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Jean-Jacques Debout

You’ll be able to hear Jean-Pierre Tutin in Saint-Chinian later this year, on July 7, 2016, during the music festival.  He will be playing and singing music by Charles Trenet.  I’ll write more about the music festival in due course, once the programme is finalised.

The last event of this day of celebrating Charles Trenet was in the parish church in Saint-Chinian.  Here a recital of the music of Charles Trenet was played on the organ by William Henriet, another Trenet collaborator.  Hearing 20th century music played on an 18th century organ was interesting – let’s leave it at that! 😀

All in all, a great day, and I’m sure there will be more events in Saint-Chinian with a “Trenet” theme.

Looking ahead

For a little while I’ve been thinking about an events page for this blog – there is no better time than the new year to start this!! 🙂  On the new page, I will list upcoming events in and around the area, which you might enjoy.  I will try and update the page as often as possible – if there is an event you think should be listed here, please drop me a line.  If you want to visit the area and need accommodation please head to www.midihideaways.com .  Here now are the events I have added to the new page. This is only the start . . .

Limoux Carnival – 03.01.2016 – 13.03.2016

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The good people of Limoux take their carnival very serious.  Different groups have the run of the central square every Saturday and Sunday during the carnival period.  It’s always a fun festival to visit – I have previously written about it here.

Fete du Mimosa in Roquebrun – 14.02.2016

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The Fete du Mimosa is a must if you are in the area – a great fun fete!  I have visited many times and I’ve written about it here.

Grand Deballage in Pezenas – 01.05.2016

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This is one of the larges antiques and flea markets in the area, with at least 150 stands.  Serious bargains can be found if you are prepared to look!  I’ll try and be there – should be good fun!

Tour de France 2016 – 13.07.2016 and 14.07.2016

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On July 13, the cyclists of the Tour de France will be racing from Carcassonne to Montpellier.  Rumour has it that the route may be going through Minerve and past La Caunette, but nothing has been confirmed yet.  On the following day the Tour will go from Montpellier to Mont Ventoux.  This should be an interesting stage, as the cyclists have to climb more than 1300m in altitude!  Here’s a post from when the Tour came through Saint-Chinian a few years ago!

Bastille Day, all over the area – 14.07.2016

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France celebrates her national holiday in great style – parties and fireworks take place in pretty much every village!  Some fireworks parties take place on the 13th (e.g. Beziers) and some on the 14th (e.g. Saint-Chinian and Bize-Minervois).  Not to be missed!

Fete du Cru, Saint-Chinian – 17.07.2016

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A whole day of wine tasting, a not to be missed event in Saint-Chinian.  You can read about a previous fete here.