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    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Tour de France - Food of the South Wesr

    Tour de France. What a Sporting Event. This morning I was watching the Trek over the Mountains Watching those boys flog their way up those steep slopes and then the dare devil trip down. Oops My Heart was in My Mouth.
    Click here winoandfoodies you will read Barbara's post explaining the blogging event that she has developed around Le Tour. A really good idea. She has allocated each leg of the race to a different blogger and the plan is for every one to write about their area. My leg is Salies de Bearn to Bordeaux. The area is abundant with wonderful food and wine, so hard to choose what to cook, but I think I made a good selection.  I personally am not familiar with the area but definitely familiar with the produce. Spent a week in Toulouse 20 years ago and tasted for the very first time, Le Foie Gras. It was served with crusty baguette and poached peaches. The whole lobe (cooked) was served on a plate, you cut off what you wanted and then they took it away and weighed it. Then charged you.
    I fell in love and every time I get the chance to sample it, I do. So I went to the French Deli Pyrenees in Mt Albert and purchased some, imported from France. I also bought a couple of their excellent baguettes. No fresh peaches around It is winter here you know... so I bought this Blackcurrant and Red Onion jelly to accompany . Perfect. My friends Elsje and Ngaire shared this treat with me. We loved it.
    A veritable lunch of absolute delight.That 80 gm jar was $50 but worth every penny.
    Below the Motley Crew from New Zealand who made Le Trek Toulouse in 1990
    I did some research and actually found amongst my cookbooks two excellent books
    " Savouring France" by  Georgeanne Brennan and also "The World Atlas of Food" published in 1974 Edited by Jane Grigson. One of the Grandes Dames of English Cookery writing.
    Both books gave me an excellent insight to the food of this South West Corner of France. In fact... The World Atlas had this little map of the area with the local food scattered around the place names.
    Of course the whole area is dominated by the the wines of Bordeaux and of course Cognac and Armagnac. If our riders were partaking of the region's grape based distillates.. They would enjoy an after dinner Armagnac in the Salies de Bearn and as they cycle north to Bordeaux, Cognac would be their choice of tipple.
    This part of France is rich in game. All sorts of birds are caught and eaten but especially the wild doves, the Palombres and Ortolans. They are caught as they fly south to winter in the warm climes of the Mediterranean.
    According to The Wine Spectator
    "For centuries, a rite of passage for French gourmets has been the eating of the Ortolan. These tiny birds—captured alive, force-fed, then drowned in Armagnac, were roasted whole and eaten that way, bones and all, while the diner draped his head with a linen napkin to preserve the precious aromas and, some believe, to hide from God." Mmmm not for me I think.

    This land is famous for garlic and Garlic is mashed with Goose Fat to make Beurre de Gascogne,
    This is simply
    8 large cloves of garlic unpeeled
    6 tablespoons of goose or duck fat
     2 heaped tablespoons of chopped parsley

    Blanch the garlic cloves for about 5 minutes in salted boiling water
    Drain and peel
    Put warm cloves of garlic in a blender with the fat and blend to a past
    Add the parsley
    Stir into cooked haricot beans and bacon with some of the Beurre de Gascogne on the side.

    So along with Foie Gras, from the Duck and Geese that are fattened to provide that wonderful Fatty liver. There is also The Duck Breast, is a huge favourite in the South West of France. Cooked med rare crispy skin. Yum. How about Confit. The list goes on.
    Add to that list the rendered down fat from either the Goose and The Duck. So what to do with that. Make Roast potatoes.
    They are divine.
    A blogging friend Katie have a look at her site Thyme for Cooking
    lives in Marmande, South of Bordeaux. I contacted her for advice about accompaniments to my steak dish that I was planning to cook and she said straight away... Roast Potatoes in either Goose or Duck fat. So there you go.
    After a lot of pouring over Cook books of the region I decided to make
    Biftech Marchand de Vin
    Steak with Shallots and Red Wine Sauce

    2 Scotch Filet (Rib Eye) Steaks
    Sea Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
    2 teaspoon mined fresh thyme
    2 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1/4 cup minced shallots
    80-125 mls red wine
    Fresh Flat leaf parsley chopped

    Bring the steaks to room temperature
    Season both sides with Salt, freshly ground black pepper and thyme
    Heat a heavy pan over medium heat
    Add 1 tablespoon butter
    When melted and is near sizzling
    Add steaks, sear them, tuning once
    Should take 3-4 minutes each size
    Depending on thickness of steak and required doneness

    When ready transfer to a warmed platter and cover loosely with foil

    To Prepare the sauce
    Tip out excess fat from pan leaving about 1 tablespoon
    Return to medium heat and add shallots
    Sauté till translucent about 3-4 minutes

    Add wine to deglaze pan
    Stir to dislodge any tasty brown nits on the bottom
    Cook until wine reduced by half
    Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter

    Pour hot sauce over the steaks and serve
    I cooked this dish twice I'll put both photos on.
    Quite different to look at but little difference in taste. Maybe my camera had something to do with it.
    Best accompaniment… Roast potatoes in Goose Fat

    And the French favourite
    Green beans and Garlic.

    There was leftovers... do you believe we just couldn’t fit anymore in and what did I do with them. Served them on crisp buttered Vogels for lunch the next day.
    Potato first topped with the steak some little bit of the sauce on top and touch of parsley.
     Don’t know what the French do with leftovers but couldn’t be much more tasty than that.

    Now the Crowning Glory was dessert.
    Soufflé aux Pruneaux a l’Armagnac
    The Prunes from Agen are world famous. Unfortunately I couldn't source any here in Auckland so I used Australian Prunes which are still very good.
    The funny thing was I had the souffle dish too high in the oven and the top of the Souffle caught the Top of the oven. It was very beautiful though. Well worth making

    250 gms pitted prunes
    250 mls warm water
    2 tablespoons Armagnac
    1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 1/2 teaspoon plus 6 tablespoon (90 gms) granulated sugar
    7 egg whites
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    Icing sugar

    In a bowl combine prunes, warm water and 1 tablespoon Armagnac.
    Let stand at room temperature overnight until nicely plumped

    Next Day Preheat oven to 180C
    Using the butter generously
    Grease an 8” soufflé dish
    Sprinkle with the 1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar,
    Rotate the mold to coat the bottom and sides evenly.

    Drain the prunes
    Reserve 2 tablespoon of the liquid
    In a blender combine prunes, reserved liquid and 1 tablespoon Armagnac

    Process till thick puree forms
    Set aside

    In a large bowl combine eggs whites and salt
    On med speed beat till soft peaks are formed
    Gradually beat in 6 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form

    Using a rubber spatula, fold in the prune puree a little a time
    Be careful not to deflate the egg whites

    Pour into prepared dish

    Bake until puffed above the rim
    About 20 mins

    Remove from oven dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with whipped cream
    So my leg of the Tour de France - Stage 18 goes from
    Salies de Bearn
    This image is from the Tour de France Website
    This little town of 5000 personnes has not been visited by the Tour since 1939. I would imagine these inhabitants will be so excited.

    To Bordeaux
    Once again I have taken the image from the official site. 
    • 79 times a stage town
    • Population: 236,000
    • Capital of the Aquitaine Region and Prefecture of Gironde (33)
    Bordeaux is the most visited city on the Tour, after Paris, and race sprinters, who have often won here during the 79 stage finishes hosted here since 1903, will be content.
    A city of festivals, this year Bordeaux will be welcoming the Tour de France for the 80th time – a national record after Paris – to its streets, which promise to be lively thanks to the participation and enthusiasm of Bordeaux’s natives and visitors.

    If you have been following this "Tour  de France de Blog" you will have visited Erin at The Endive Chronicles yesterday
    Tomorrow go to see Stephanie at Bite Style
    This has been a fun blog to organize. Thanks Barbara what a great idea.


    Amanda said...

    What a busy time you have had for this Tour, Gilli!
    But I'll bet you had fun eating it all.

    Barbara said...

    Fabulous post Gilli. We once stayed in Pau and our host cooked a Foie Gras which he served with the local Juracon wine. Thanks for participating.

    katiez said...

    What a perfect dinner from our area! The Souffle - we are close to Agen and the prune trees flowering in the spring are so beautiful.
    What a fun event!