Hello Friends, Campers and food aficionados,
Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Loire Valley, France. This past week I was blessed by a visit from some old friends from Santa Barbara. As ‘Le Petit Saint Barnabé’ is still under construction, and I do not have a suitable guestroom as yet, my dear friends stayed in a friends cottage surrounded by a forest and a lake, only 5 minutes away from me. They loved it! We got together every evening after their daily wanderings around the Loire Valley, visiting the many beautiful chateaux and gardens that abound in this area of France. We enjoyed catching up on events in Santa Barbara and reminiscing about the past 40 plus years that we have known each other, eating wonderful meals together, drinking a variety of ever so reasonably priced fine wines from the region, and just plain enjoying each others company.
As luck would have it, the day they left was the first day of the annual Foire aux Pommes or Apple Festival here in my adorable little village, Mouliherne, which is held both Saturday and Sunday after the apple harvest. We met at my house on Saturday and walked into town to enjoy the many food vendors, folks selling whatever they found in their attics, and apple beignets! Here is a fellow peeling and cutting the apples for the beignets with a very low tech machine. The gals in the background are dipping the apple pieces in batter and then deep frying them. After that they fill up a tray with them and dust them with powdered sugar. Very delicious!
I did not realize how popular this event was to the local folks. They came from all of the surrounding towns to participate in the revelry.
Here is the olive seller! There were Nicoise, Greek, Provence style, mixed olives, and pickled garlic at this stall, as well as sausages and dried peppers.
This fellow was selling some of the best cheeses the region has to offer; Morbier, Compte, Brebis, Goat, and many more!
This fellow was offering salamis and sausages of every kind! There were boar, deer, pork, duck, and some combined with cheese. Wow!
The French love their frites, aka French Fries. At almost every festival grilled sausage and onion sandwiches are served with frites. Yum! Of course, there are also stands which serve wine and beer to wash it down with. A complete meal!
A good time was had by all, and we all got good exercise after stuffing ourselves with all of the good food that was offered by walking through the entire village looking at what folks were selling. Every street in the village was packed with vendors and people looking at what they had to sell. What is usually a sleepy village was transformed into a bustling city over this weekend!
Afterward, my dear friends said goodbye and drove away to their next adventure in Normandy. I must admit to shedding a few tears as they departed. I suppose after a year abroad it is to be expected that I would miss my family and friends. I just didn’t know how much until they drove away. But once back at home, all I had to do was look around and see all of the unfinished things I needed to attend to in order to get my house in order. Staying busy is a Godsend sometimes, and helps me keep my mind on my goal of creating a vacation destination with culinary classes for future guests. I can immerse myself with all of the work that needs to be done to realize this dream of mine, and in doing so, keep my longing for family and friends at bay until I can greet them once again with an open heart and a warm embrace, and it will be as if only weeks have passed instead of years. Because that is what it is like to have good friends.
What was the last meal you made for your friends? Let us know here.
Until next time, keep on lighting that fire, cooking and sharing with friends.
Denise, Gail, and Lindsey