Saturday, July 28, 2012

Love it or Hate it: Andouilette

Whenever I have to do some serious shopping I go to Avignon, or, to be more precise to Le Pontet, a big shopping center in the northern part of Avignon. Just about every time I am there I meet a man I really do consider to almost be a friend now: the charming Mr. Raki who works at in the meat department  of Auchan. Blessed with an enormous sense of humour, a fabulous gift of the gab and just plain Gallic charm, Mr. Raki is usually to be found manning a small BBQ station. If the delicious smells wafting all over the place don't draft you towards him, some quirky remarks almost certainly will. And then he makes you taste: little morsels of tender lamb, delicious sausages, tiny strips of beef fillet. And he succeeds everytime:  I just can't help but add whatever he is promoting into my shopping basket.

The charming Mr. Raki

Except last Wednesday. For this time Mr.Raki was grilling Andouilettes. And if there is one thing in the whole big world of French culinary wonders I will not eat it is Andouillettes. Not because they are made of tripe. I do eat tripe if it is well prepared - Tripe à la Florentine can be delicious.
But I draw the line at Andouilettes. Because they smell. They smell in a way that turns my stomach. Most French people love them. There is no BBQ where you don't find a few of those stinkers happily sizzling away. But this is one of those things you either love to eat or hate to even have to smell. Even Mr. Raki couldn't tempt me into tasting them. And that means something.

Andouilettes - tripe sausages

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Festival de la Figue in Caromb - great Festival but no Figs

By now you probably know that we just love to go to all the local festivals. As long as they are culinary off we go and usually come home tired, stuffed and happy, laden with delicacies. So when Radio Bleu Vaucluse told me yesterday morning not to miss the Fig Festival in Caromb I thought yes! here we go again! I had even one more reason to go as I had just seen a sinfully rich but rather fabulous fig dessert being prepared on TV and the juicy black figs for which Caromb is famous were just what I needed to try and replicate it.

In Caromb everything was perfect:  happy crowds and blue skies
Provençal costumes

This lady sold raffle tickets and we won a bottle of Rosé!

Another Provençal beauty

  But where, where were the famous Caromb figs?

The only ones we saw were these ones at the cooking demonstration. I even went to ask at the Tourist Office and learned that because of the long and hard winter we had the harvest was very small this year and the figs they had for sale all went within the first hour of the festival. If they hadn't disappeared into the jam pots of the local ladies who presented their "confitures" to be voted on.  As far as I am concerned pot No 1 deserved to win, but I didn't wait for the voting results to come in. And I promise to share the sinful fig desert with you as soon as I can find some figs to prepare it with.

Mr. S diligently testing fig jams before voting

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tomatoes, Tomatoes and more Tomatoes

Aren't they beautiful? Last Tuesday's market in Vaison was like a horn of plenty full of tomatoes. Tomatoes in every shape and colour and beautifully named -  just have a look at the list above!
Colourful Cherry Tomatoes

 These are called Pineapple Tomatoes

Coeur de Boeuf or
"Heart of the Bull"


 And these are the ones in my Kitchen Garden
they still need a bit of sun...

... but see, we are getting there - this afternoon's harvest.
Tomato Salad anyone?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Anchoïade Provençale

Last weekend we were invited to our neighbor Germain's 80th birthday party.  Germain is a true Provençal. Born in the old part of Vaison (la vieille ville) he did his military service in Germany where he met his beloved Lise, his wife of now almost 60 years.

Germain and Lise

As a true Provençal Germain knows how to work and how to party. So we started the sumptous birthday feast with a very typical Provençal apéro: Chilled Rosé, fruit juices, Pastis and an anchoïade. This is a dip that is not for the faint hearted.  Typically served with lost of crunchy vegetable sticks it is one of these things - like oysters or cilantro - that you either love or hate. I do adore it but it is an aquired taste.

Anchoïade Provençale

So here comes the recipe for all you anchovy addicts out there (and especially for Tim who came to cook with me at Cuisine de Provence last week and when anchovies were asked for gracefully bowed to the wishes of the three ladies he cooked with, who were not too fond of those salty little devils):

Anchoïade Provençale
100 g of anchovy fillets
10 or so fresh basil leaves
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
good olive oil

Put all ingredients except the olive oil into a mortar and pound into a thick paste. Slowly add olive oil until you have a sauce like consistency.