Thursday, 1 May 2008

May Day

Back again.

Many reasons for being away so long, but mostly a combination of no Internet (what a surprise!), children on school holidays (2 PCs and 4 people in the house!) and being very busy…..but that is a story for another day I think.
***
Had a great May Day.

Josette and Cyprian invited us round for lunch at midi and before we knew it, it was 18:00. Now that is a La Sesquiere lunch!!!!

We decided to take a dessert, whilst others took something to go with the aperos.Madame Vanche (left) made a popular local speciality – cake avec olives vertes. A very tasty combination of a slightly sweet sponge with salty olives and ham embedded in it.Madame Carrière (right) made a quiche – which was the best we have ever tasted! Incredibly moist and savoury. We could not stop eating it, whilst we all sat around in the garden downing either pastis or champagne with mûre. The men stood around giving masses of encouragement and advice to Cyprian who was cooking one of the main courses on his superb outdoor kitchen. Richard is very jealous of his barbecue area whilst my eyes popped out at the industrial sized steel fridge freezer there! I would be happy with one of those in my real kitchen, let alone the outside one!

The meal was a classic – and as usual, much of it was sourced locally……

We started with ecrevisse caught by Cyprian in the local River Orb, just down the road in Hérépian. He showed us the new pannier they have to be caught with and explained the process. New regulations have recently been brought in to ensure that only those above a certain size (ie large ones) are caught because of the concern that their numbers are decreasing. And no one here would go against these new rules, even after so many years of the old way, because the locals feel very strongly that natural resources should be carefully husbanded.

We then had a barbecued hare, caught by one of the guests down towards the coast near Agde. Followed by a casserole of wild duck (shot by Cyprian, again locally) in an olive and wine sauce. Delicious!! Have I made you hungry yet?!

Afterwards we moved on to the cheese followed by the desserts. As well as my offering of layered meringue filled with chocolate grenache (see below) we also had an open fruit tart and a crème caramel made by Josette – one of my favourites!

It was astonishing how much we were able to get through for ‘lunch’ but even Richard and I did not have space to try all three puddings – like many of the others!! We let the side down I am afraid.

Finishing off with champagne and then coffee, we spent an agreeable time lounging around the garden recovering. Not sure we will be eating again in our household for a few days!
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Of course today, May Day in England, is the fête de travail here.

And what do we always forget? That, unlike in the UK, a fête means that nowhere (and I mean NOWHERE!) opens.

There I was this morning making the meringue for a strawberry pavlova to take to lunch when I remembered.....that I had forgotten to buy the strawberries yesterday.

No problem, let’s just pop down to the supermarket and get some – we have a couple of hours before midi.

Into the car we jumped and off we went. As we reached the roundabout at Intermarché we suddenly remembered why the car park was empty.

Oh well, we will try the next one (SuperU) because one of them must be open. Not on your Nelly!

So how about Les Halles?! Not a chance....

Last resort – Lidl. Why did we bother?! Everywhere is shut on a fête day!!!!! And how come we always forget this fact!

So back home and I am examining my store cupboards.

How about using our home-made strawberry jam? Too sweet for me, so no.

Use fresh pears? What do you mean you ate the last one last night?! How could you Richard! I NEEDED that pear!

OK. Usual last resort. There’s always cooking chocolate in the fridge….provided the girls have not nicked it. And God help them if they had!!

So I made an extra meringue layer and put it in the oven, whilst mixing chocolate grenache to fill it with.

No one noticed, and it all got eaten. I was even asked for the recipe a few times….trouble is, how do you explain that it was a PANIC recipe?!

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