On Tuesday, we went to a lovely market in the streets of a village nearby, Castillonnès, on the top of a hill. There were people with stalls, selling their vegetables, fish, meat, plants, flowers, cheeses etc. It was freezing and I had on 3 layers under my ski jacket, and a scarf and gloves and I was almost warm enough! I bought a chicken to cook and it still had its neck, head and red comb attached and came with a little bundle of gizzards. Very French, evidently.
We have discovered celeriac, which I often see in the Adelaide market too - you must get one to try. It is an ugly, knobbly thing but you can cut bits off, like a pumpkin, and roast them and they are really, really delicious. You can also grate it into a salad to eat raw which is also nice. It lasts for ages so you just keep cutting bits off when you want to. I also have really enjoyed endive.... a kind of stem and leaf veg like spinach, that they grow in the dark and it goes pale. I dug them at Roger D's place in Maine. We roasted them in the pan with the celeriac and pumpkin etc and I thought it would dry out but Ian assured me it would be ok and it was much better than ok - it was fabulous.
Then, there is blette, which we learned from the dictionary is Swiss chard. It is like a short, fat version of silver beet. I am going to make spinach and fetta pie tomorrow.
One funny thing is that it is hard to get raw beetroot - it is always sold boiled, on the vegetable stalls. You can get the large, round ones or large, long ones but they are nearly always cooked.
One of my favourite blue cheeses is St. Agur, which son Hugh first told me about at the Adelaide market. It costs about $75 / kg there but you wouldn't believe the price here! Ian buys a kilogram of it at a time and freezes it in pieces. You only need a little. It is less than $30 / kg and you can get it at the supermarket!! There are lots of other beautiful and reasonably priced cheeses here too and it is very difficult not to eat too much. So much local stuff is available from the supermarkets, it is very good.
There is a local baker that drives around this area twice a week, selling bread from the back of the van. We bought 2 croissants and a baguette and they were still warm. The croissants are a bit smaller than in Adelaide and generally straight, not curved, and very good. I am trying to avoid going anywhere near a patisserie until I lose a few kilograms but I do love the croissants, which come from bakers not patisseries. And the chausson au pomme..... a kind of pasty shaped, apple filled croissant.... perfect with a noisette, which is a short black coffee with a dash of milk. You can't get flat white so I am now getting used to noisettes, and sometimes they bring it with a little jug of hot milk extra , which is great.
This morning at the Villereal market it was icy cold but sunny and I was not even nearly warm, even with a woollen spencer, long-sleeved shirt, woollen jumper and my ski jacket, scarf and gloves! So we bought our chausson au pomme (for me), pain au raisin (sultana croissant, for Ian) and then Ian bought this thin paper-wrapped tube of crepes. We took them to the bar/cafe in the market square and had our noisettes inside in the warm. This is what they do, buy food from the boulangerie (bakery) or patisserie (cake shop) or pizzeria or from the hot chicken stall and then take it to the bar/cafe and eat it with your coffee. The waiter sometimes calls out 'Bon appetit', even though you didn't get the food there and will bring you a plate and hot handtowel, if like me, you get in a mess with your chicken! The bag of crepes was just that..... a bag of cold, soggy,very sweet, rolled crepes, that felt like long, fat worms.... yuk! The first French thing I haven't liked at all.
You have to be quick to get your goods from the bakeries / patisseries / sandwich shops etc because even they close for 2 - 3 hours every day for lunch....well, you can't expect to buy lunch at lunch-time can you?? The supermarkets and all other shops except restaurants close for lunch too. Restaurants and cafes won't serve you though, if you don't get there by about 1pm. Why? They need time to enjoy their own lunch break, of course! Only foreigners would dare ask for lunch out of the time slot 12 - 1pm or soon after. Food is a serious business in France.
On Thursday we drove through the pretty countryside, dotted with farm houses and sprinkled with fields, edged in hedgerows to Monflanquin. It was about 12.30 by the time we got there and of course everything was shut but the streets were nice to just wander about. One shop (above, right) in this tourist village opens only from 10.30 - 12.30 then 3pm - 6pm. Another sign sat (left) prominently on the footpath and it said in French "Due to a general lack of interest, tomorrow will not take place" !! OK, so do we all jump forward a day or what?? Yeah, lets give Friday a miss this week.... who needs it?
There are more photos here.