Tuesday, February 25, 2014

THE BEST OF FRANCE VOL.3



FRESH FISH.

After lamenting about the worst beef in the world, let me tell you what the French really are good at. Fresh fish. I grew up with Fish Fridays (a catholic thing) in Austria, but mostly Tuna Gulasch in boarding school made from canned tuna (imagine that), fish sticks from the freezer and once in a while, sole. Also frozen, then deep fried.

Whether you visit a fresh food market or a Supermarket store in France, you will always find a massive display of fresh fish everywhere, including all sorts of shellfish.  With a coast line of over 7000 km both to the Atlantic and the  Mediterranean Sea, France has a huge variety of fish to offer. 
Maybe the local population already knows that French beef sucks and eat fish!  I should have thought about that when I wondered why the fish truck is always busier than the butcher at the Jarnac market.   
While I'd say 80% of the fish you get anywhere in France goes through RUNGIS wholesale market in Paris first, every region has it's local selection as well.  In the Charente it's obviously Oysters since some of the largest banks are around here and along the coastline some great fresh fish as well, which I hope comes direct to the markets instead of a giant detour to Paris first. 
I opted for fresh sole from the island Oleron, which is around 100 KM west of Jarnac.

While I respect all Chefs and their hard job, "poissoniers", fish cooks do stand out in the kitchen. I think fish is tricky to cook and present. Not talking Sushi, but a perfectly poached trout or  well presented "Sole Meuniere" in my books are more difficult to prepare than a medium rare steak. 
I don't recall a single lesson in fresh fish preparation while in school. Austria, the land of Schnitzel and Knoedel.

So on your next trip to France, skip the beef and eat fish. If you have a fear of swallowing a bone by accident, don't worry. It still beats eating crappy steaks. Everyone knows the Heimlich.



2 ACRES OF FISH IN RUNGIS, PARIS


20 M2  AT THE JARNAC MARKET EVERY TUESDAY AND FRIDAY

I SHOULD HAVE PAID ATTENTION IN COOKING CLASS HOW TO COOK THESE

 WHAT TO BUY 

NOT THE TUNA

NOT THE SALMON

NOT THE FISH HEADS

FRESH SOLE FROM ILE D'OLERON, 100 KM WEST OF HERE


FRIED IN BUTTER

UNTIL IT LOOKS LIKE THIS

BROCCOLI AND LEMON FOR COLOR ONLY......

AFTER YOU ARE DONE WITH THE TOP FILET,

REMOVE THE BONES IN ONE SWOOP STARTING AT THE TAIL

AND NOBODY NEEDS TO PERFORM THE HEIMLICH ON YOU


Friday, February 21, 2014

THE WORST OF FRANCE



What? You did not expect me to say just nice things about my host country.....
In the end it's not a major "worst" but does deserve mention. The beef. I could stop here and just show you pictures, but I`ll explain a bit.

I love meat. While I do eat pork and chicken, top on the list is beef. And it`s hard to believe that two years on I still am a believer of finding a steak that comes close to anything at The Keg. I am not mentioning any celebrity steakhouses on the Las Vegas Strip, since I consider them to be on the other end of the scale. Too good.  I am talking Friday lunch, Steak Frites. 
Victoria gave up long time ago, but stubborn I am and seemingly too much so. There has to be steak here that`s manageable to eat. 

I mentioned my quest to an acquaintance of ours who graciously shared his " ├Čnside" tip for a great wood fire grilled Entrecote. Maybe I am gullible and not stubborn, but I followed up on his recommendation. The place remains nameless, this is not a restaurant review, it's a gripe about beef. Located in a town with more than 20K people, right next to a hotel, I should have seen the red flags fly when at 12.30 on  a Friday the place was empty. I joined two other solo diners in a place that seats 180. Maybe it's an evening place more so, or a special occasion restaurant. 
Right front and center they advertise their house special "Entrecote, Frites et Salad. 
The giant grill in the middle of the restaurant was on fire and I hoped for the very best. Do you remember the post from 2 years ago, when we all went out to Buffalo Grill here in Cognac? Why did I not stop then?


 http://theceliachusband.blogspot.fr/2012/03/le-steak-fail.html

The steak was, I am not sure what to say. It was bad. VERY bad. I am trying to find a comparison but am not able to come up with anything. 
I ate some of the fries to get some of my money's worth, knowing full well, that if I send it back I might end up on the grill.....But I did speak with the lady running the show, hoping for a reduction or free dessert. But all she came up with was that it's their specialty and nobody ever complains like that.  Suit yourself.

So this is it for my beef consumption in France. LIDL sells some prepackaged Entrecotes and quite frankly, they are better than any restaurant steak here. 




 A BRILLIANT FIRST IMPRESSSION. WHAT A GRILL

L'ENTRECOTE......

AND I AM DONE

MUSEUMS ARE BUSIER

TRIPADVISOR


MAKE IT MYSELF NOW. HOPE HAS DIED

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

THE LAZY MAN'S LEMON GLAZE



Victoria left me a whole freezer full of gluten free baked goods and I intend to eat it all. I made my way through plenty of Pizza crusts and some of the flat breads already. She also left one of my favorite, individual sized poppy seed cakes....but, with no glaze. I love that lemony flavored glaze Victoria puts on the cake.

Since this cake is best with some lemon flavor, I looked up some recipes but decided to create a major short cut.  The 10 second lemon glaze. So good and easy. The path of least resistance!




WELL, THERE WAS A BAG FULL

THAT''S ALL YOU NEED FOR THE GLAZE

SQUEEZE THE JUICE ON TO THE CAKE

DUST WITH LOTS OF ICING SUGAR - READY TO EAT IN 10 SECONDS

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LOCAL ELECTIONS



Did I tell you that when I was on a road trip in November, the local rep for the Front National came by to rent our retail space.  They needed a campaign office for the upcoming regional elections, but the lady didn't speak English, so Victoria told her to comeback when I return to Jarnac. And she did.  We were unable to close the deal since A: the shop is full of stuff and B: they had not enough money to pay the rent and were hoping for a great deal.......ehm. Well. Not me. But there is a Red Cross station in town if you are looking for freebies......

Not sure if they did get a list together here in Jarnac, but they sure did in Cognac where they are polling their usual 13% three weeks ahead of the election date. I am not really surprised, since there is a lot of underlying resentment going on in rural France. Why, I am not sure, after all the same people did vote for that civil servant from the left to run the country in the first place.  Now they want the far right to fix it? 

While I am no fan of Front National's platform, inevitably at the next presidential elections I predict Marine Le Pen to be the king maker. She is much smoother than her old man ever was and has charisma to boot. Since the grassroots elections are important for a bigger swell later on, I am surprised the national party did not send more funds to the region.  Bon, tant pis pour eux.

What is the most interesting part of the Jarnac mayoral election is that both candidates have abandoned their parties for independent platforms. Not sure why, both are known to be from the gauche, Jerome Royer more so than Francois Raby, his challenger.  I am sure the winner will revert back to the mother ship after winning the battle to ensure continued flow of tax $$$ into the town coffers.  Gotta keep those promises.



THE INCUMBENT, JEROME ROYER

THE CHALLENGER, FRANCOIS RABY


THE UNKNOWN

JARNAC POUR TOUS


 COMPETENT AND ENGAGED

JARNAC LIVE TOGETHER

THE TEAM WITH JEROME ROYER



Monday, February 17, 2014

TOP FIVE POSTS OF ALL TIMES



Come April, I have written on this site for 5 years. That's an eternity in my life and for blogging. The average life span of all Blogs combined is somewhere around 26 month.  So I made it to double that. I do run out of things to tell you about, sometimes more so than others. 
I have not joined any of the other communication tools available, as I think after all is said and done, it's really not that newsworthy. Twitter I am not. Instagram and Pinterest cannot do. I am on Facebook though and you are welcome to join me there (Hans Peter Edlinger). I post pictures there frequently since I have an iPad thingy that makes it easier than my camera to upload quick impressions.  Isabella still takes better pictures than me.

This morning I checked Google to see what people came here for and to my surprise gluten free and posts about France are pretty equal in hits. interesting, as I am not sure what to write about in the future.  I cannot believe that gluten free dish with a fairly small regional importance (NOT Pizza) is to this day the most visited post on the Blog.  So check out the top five below:

If you have any thoughts on what you want to read, let me know.


At number 5: A post written by Lauren in 2009, about an order for Gluten Free Star wars themed cupcakes: http://theceliachusband.blogspot.fr/2009/01/gf-special-orders-star-wars-cupcakes.html

STAR WARS CUPCAKES MADE BY GF PATISSERIE'S LAUREN EDLINGER



At number 4: From our 2012 adventures about house hunting in France: http://theceliachusband.blogspot.fr/2012/01/blog-post.html

HOW MUCH FUN WAS IT......OVER 60 HOUSES VISITED



At number 3: Google indexed this post very high for a while back in 2012 and more people have come to my Blog on their search for gluten free food in Barcelona than any other city. Including Vegas........ http://theceliachusband.blogspot.fr/2012/02/gluten-free-barcelona.html

THE BEST GF PASTA IN BARCELONA


At number 2: La Maison, my personal favorite post about renovations of the house in France:http://theceliachusband.blogspot.fr/2012/03/la-maison.html

MY FAVORITE POST OF ALL



At number 1: GLUTEN FREE PEROGIES. To this day I don't get it. By a margin of 2 : 1 the leading post in hits. Yes, it's a helpful post about how to make them for Celiacs, but how many Ukrainians are there? Compared to Pizza, Hamburgers and other gluten free foods I posted about???? http://theceliachusband.blogspot.fr/2009/11/gluten-free-perogies-recipe.html

GLUTEN FREE PEROGIES

Sunday, February 16, 2014

SPRING IS HERE


It's been a mild but rainy winter this year. Not nearly as cold as last January, but they say that we had 175% more rain than last year. And I tell you, it shows. I took some pictures and if you go back the summer on my Blog, you can see the difference in water levels.


With the sun out all day today, we hit 14C, which in my books beats anything white on the ground anywhere. I have seen people in their yards already, distressed ducks, as they have no place to rest and crowds like during the summer holidays. Of course all Cafes and restaurants are shut tight. It's the french country side life......I even went to Cognac to see if any of the cafes there were open on the square. Guess which place was really hopping today. McDonald's! Because they are open. The drive through was backed up all the way to Route Angouleme. I just don't get it.

Enjoy the pictures.
















Friday, February 14, 2014

O'TACOS


You had to be there and listen to the whole dialogue during my recent dining experience in France. It's very hard for me to recount what went down when I found a new "Taco" joint in Angouleme. In retrospect, incredibly funny. But at the moment of utter let down, it was not so funny. At all.

As you can see in the pictures, the sign clearly screams Tacos, which in Victoria's words made my heart skip a beat, since after being here for two years plus is one of the foods I crave. Especially when I read Blog posts about innovative new places in California. http://www.kevineats.com/

The place is brand new and just as barren as you'd expect a fast food place in France to be. That 1970's charm they proudly use to this day. So the conversation starts with me asking for the available fillings for my Tacos which are written on a blackboard by the order counter. Beef, Chicken, Merguez (innovative!), Cordon Bleu and Nuggets. Huh? And here I go with my Austrian french inquiring about those last two toppings and Monsieur, who I now realize is NOT from Mexico, states they are popular toppings in France. Fine with me. The french are true gourmets. OK I say I take Chicken and Merguez. Stay close to the traditional.
How many Tacos do I get I ask. One is the answer. What do you mean one? Ah, one, c'est tout. Not like three each or some? The price for my two meat combo is 6.50, I'd like to have more than one Taco. Can you please show me the shell? What shell he says to me. The Taco shell please. 

He finally understands my request and pulls out this giant Tortilla wrap and says that's the Taco shell. Ah, C'est un wrap I tell him. Non Monsieur, c'est un Taco.  Quoi? C'est pas un Taco, c'est un wrap. I got flustered and threw in a English words by now and bloody heck, this guy spoke fluent English. 
It's a Taco Lyonnais, not a Taco from Mexico. Oh? Lyon, France or Lyon, Mexico. I heard of Paul Bocuse from Lyon, but tacos from Lyon, Impossible. By now he clearly gets annoyed with me, but to his credit remained calm and polite and goes on explaining about the French Tacos which until I Googled, did not believe to exist. But they do. 
We had another quarrel about the right sauce for my meal, since my choices were Mayo, Harissa, Curry or Sauce Royal. No salsa? No Cilantro flavored something? Nope. I went for the Mayo and just to egg the guy on some more I inquired about the pedigree, if it was produced in Belgium or Holland.  I am just happy they did not throw me out by now.

So what I ended up getting was a wrap stuffed with Curry Chicken, some Merguez sausages and Fries with Mayo. Tasty stuff, just not the Taco I hoped for. Absolute hands down the best fries in Angouleme, fait maison and deep fried to perfection. All in all a good meal. From Lyon.


TACOS!!???

CORDON BLEU AND NUGGETS IN TACOS? RED FLAG MAYBE?

BUT THIS IS A WRAP? NO. IT'S A TACO LYONNAIS

IN MY IMAGINATION THEY PASSED FOR MEXICANS 

THE BEST FRIES IN ANGOULEME

CHICKEN IN CURRY SAUCE.......PAS TROP MEXICAIN

I PROMISED TO POST PICTURES ON THEIR FB PAGE, BUT LINK DOES NOT WORK