Hello from the Loire Valley, France!
Gourmet Girl Denise here. I hope everyone is having a wonderful late summer/early fall. I know not everyone is, especially since it’s been really hot in Southern California and fires are raging seemingly all over the planet earth. Here in the Loire folks have mentioned to me that the weather has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. The month of September marks my third year here in France so I have not been here long enough to notice those changes. But I can say that my veggie garden just did not perform as well this year as it has in the past two years. Tomatoes didn’t ripen all summer and are only now beginning to color. We had an unusually late and cool spring and the night time temperatures just never stayed warm enough. And now the rains have come. So it looks like I’ll be making a lot of green tomato chutney.
One lovely day my friends Gilles and Mady took me to the local goat farm. I have never been to one and it was very interesting. It was immaculate, and although goats are not the most pleasant smelling animals, it really wasn’t too bad given how clean the pens were.
Here is a picture of the girls getting hooked up to the milking machine.
The girls come up a ramp on the right of this rotating platform with several stalls on it, equipped with a large bucket of food. They are hooked up to the milking machine for just as long as the platform takes to complete a full rotation, then they exit down another ramp to join with the just milked girls in another adjoining pen with access to the outdoors. Ingenious!
Here they all are waiting their turn to be milked and having a nice snack while they wait. There were quite a lot of them as you can see.
Here they are eagerly waiting to climb up the ramp to be milked. Whatever was in that bucket they loved it!
Afterward, we went into the shop were goat cheese in its many forms is sold. The gray ones are coated in ash. Here is a link that explains why some goat cheeses are coated in ash.
I purchased the round one on the left of this next pic. It was soft and delicious!
I also purchased a bottle of goat milk. My friend Bernard, the chef at the Moulin Bregeon once served a dish made with an amazingly delicious Bechamel sauce. When I asked him what his secret was he told me it was made with goats milk instead of cows milk. So I had to try it. Here is a quick and easy recipe for Bechamel sauce. Just substitute goat milk for the cow milk, if you can find it near you, for a richer, more complex flavor.
Fall has set in here in the Loire and the temperatures are dropping fast. As this difficult year draws to a close I find myself searching my cookbooks for heartier fare and recipes that will warm and nourish. Comfort food. In these trying times we certainly do need a bit of comforting. Stay healthy friends and don’t forget to vote! Until next time,
Denise, Gail, and Lindsey