Saturday, October 27, 2007

October 2007

I think I usually open and state that the month has passed by quickly. At times I feel like I am in some futuristic accelerator. I turn around and “whiz” the week has passed. I guess it may be a function of age! Or maybe it is just retirement (but that is age too, isn’t it), no stress and deadlines looming ahead.

I do believe that now I have learned to “savor” the moment more than when I worked. I stop and smell the roses all the time; I stop in the woods and listen to the wind in the leaves; listen to the birds; listen to the acorns dropping; listen to the cuckoo bird; I stop and look out across the countryside when taking a walk and take a deep breath; look at a flower; look at a cloud; watch a child. All of these moments are special. Let’s not forget to observe them.

But what have I done this month! Good question.

Fall is gorgeous. I would say that the palette of color is muted when compared to places like Minnesota (or especially New England). There are not many maple trees here. How I remember the colors along the river with all the maples trees in a vivid explosion of color. But here, instead of yellow, we have burnished gold; instead of orange, we have more of a pumpkin orange; and instead of red, we have more of a maroon. But put altogether, it still paints a beautiful picture in the fall. And what we have here are hills (one must remember that a large portion of Minnesota is fairly flat). The farms around here have planted winter wheat or colza (rape seed) and the small shoots have come up in vibrant greens. So one sees a field of green with a hilly backdrop in the muted fall colors.

The hillside here in Gevrey is called the Côte d’Or. Côte means slope or hillside, so translated it is “hillside of gold”. No one knows where the name comes from, however one theory is it is derived from the fall color. The vines turn gold or red, and it really is a “hillside of gold” in the fall. It is here only for an instant though, and then the leaves fall off.

As October enters, so does the fog. The mornings are often thick with fog that may or may not burn off as the sun heats the day. It settles here in Gevrey, since it is a low spot along the Cote. The photo is out the back of our house. The vineyard is cloaked in fog.

This year we had fog the first part of the month, but since it has not rained, we have not had the usual heavy fogs. We have had a lot of haze (brume in french). I have wanted to take photos of the countryside, but the brume has been too much for a good photo.

Our friend from London came over the end of Sept for a few days. We had a nice visit, as always. Did some shopping, wine tasting, talking and eating. We went to a small restaurant just south of us in Vosne (pronounced vo na, long o short a). Keith and I had tried to go there a few times and found it closed. Heureusement (happily), it was open. Finally we had a chance to eat there, the food was very good. It is called La Toute Petite Auberge and is painted red so you cannot miss it driving down the main route south.

October has a week to celebrate food, or actually tasting of food (gout = taste). And why not, this is France. The fromagerie close to us has an open house one Saturday a year, and it is always in the week of La Monde a la Table (the world at the table) or the Gout de France. They give you a plate with six different cheeses that they manufacture, some bread and something to drink (of course wine is one of the options).

This last weekend and this weekend Nuits St. Georges has Foires (fairs). Last weekend I went and they had cheese, bread, oysters, sausage, chocolate and of course wine and beer too. Since we had a large lunch with our friends, we were too full to taste much. Many of the villes and villages had some kind of fete to celebrate the month of food. I am going again on Sunday to the Fete du Bourru in Nuits. Bourru is the slightly fermented juice from the first pressing of the grapes.

As the end of October approaches, so does the big fete: La Foire International et Gastronomic de Dijon. It is about 10 days long, and is about food (some exhibitors on the upper floor sell items for the house). The invite guest this year is Lebanon. The ad states 500 + exhibitors. It is held in the convention center of Dijon. On the main floor there are vendors selling biscuits (cookies), vin (wine), cremant (sparkling wine), chocolat (chocolate), liqueurs and food. Then there are restaurants set up all over the floor. These restaurants usually specialize in food from some specific region of France. There is fondue or raclette (melted cheese over meats and potatoes) from the Alps, food from the islands, from Province…and the large restaurant serves food specialties from the guest country- Lebanon. But try to imagine at least 300 exhibitors on the main floor selling food or drink! I may take my camera and if I get a good photo include it in my next months Blog.

I know I spend a lot of time talking about food, but it is part of the French culture. Food, fresh food is important. There is such a difference in taste of food when you use fresh ingredients. But maybe to understand a little more about French food culture, I have included a couple of days of the school menu. Children must go home for lunch (déjeuner) or eat lunch in the cafeteria(catine). There are no bag lunches.

    Monday Betteraves vinaigrette (beets with salad dressing)
    Carbonade de boeuf VBF (beef)

    Petits pois carottes (peas and carrots)

    Coulommiers (cheese-soft like brie)

    Liégeois chocolat (light chocolate pudding)

    Tuesday Salade verte sauce mimosa (salad))
    Paupiette de veau sauce graine de moutarde (piece of veal in mustard sauce)

    Yaourt arome (yogurt)

    Fruit frais (fresh fruit)

This is a menu for grade school.

I think part of the French culture is to eat a small amount of good food. As a whole,they do not Super-Size It. Even at a young age, you start with a balanced meal.

Here in Burgundy, the cuisine is nothing but substantial. Recipes such as Burgundy Beef, Coq au Vin, Oeufs en Meurette, Escargot, Lapin a la Dijonaise are not light foods. Butter and cream (crème fraiche) are main ingredients in a lot of the recipes and th efood is rich. I do not think that these heavy fods are eaten daily. But what is the secret here (for lower heart problems).Maybe it is the serving size?, the exercise, the wine, no snacks, main meal at noon?? Probably all of them combined.

October is also the month of hunting. It is the mushroom hunters in the woods and the game hunters in the fields (large game hunting starts in November). Tried to find those ever evasive Trompettes de Mort, but did not succeed They are small and dark and blend right in with the leaves on the ground. Also since it has been dry for the last few weeks, we have given up entirely. I did find other mushrooms though (not edible, or if they are, not great)..

The weather this year has also produced an abundance of apples. Our friends have a few apples trees and so many apples that they had to prop the tree branches up this year. So we gathered of few of these large apples and I made some applesauce and apple butter. Today I will probably toss a few in a tart for Keith. We do not have good cave (or fruit cellar) in which to keep the apples through the winter. Tant pis (too bad). I also took a couple of the quinces. Have to see what I am going to make with these. I think a quince paste and use it with duck.

Oh, since I have babbled so much on food, have to tell you about another restaurant that I tried. It was a “girls” lunch in Dijon. We went to Bollywood, and new Indian restaurant. The food was very good, however it was made for the French palate, not very hot. The curry had great mild curry flavor, not hot curry. The French palate does not include piment (hot spice or pepper).

Keith has been working on his stained glass projects. He is making the second cupboard door for the kitchen, he made the front for the light over the mirror in the bathroom (not installed until we redo the bathroom) and one panel on a 4 sided tiffany lamp shade. Today is Saturday and most Saturdays in the fall/winter/spring he goes to Bligny to work on repair projects for the train.

I have not been as busy, but am working on a new birdbath. I need to cut some of Keith’s glass for my flowers, so on Friday Keith gave me a glass cutting lesson. Sure is not as easy as it looks! Too hard and the glass will not break, too soft and the glass will not break, it has to be just right. I went through a few (OK lots) of cuts trying to get the right pressure. Today I am on my own and will try to cut a few pieces. This is just on the junk glass, I can not graduate to the good glass yet!

Also back at it with the photo club. This months photo theme is "fall leaves". Have done up a couple photos, have to see how they print. We had a night photo session last week. Went to a couple of places to learn how to take night photos. My photos were not great, have to go over for another chance, but I learned alot. So many little things on a digital camera! My attempt is the opening photo, it is a church in Fixey (fees say) that is from the 10th century.

I will close here for the month of October. The recipe for the month is Tart de Pomme (Apple Tart), see below

Tarte au Pommes

Brisee Pastry Crust:

  • 250 g. Flour
  • 125 g. Beurre non-salee (unsalted butter)
  • 1/8 tsp. Sel (salt)
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar (NOTE: Only for sweet tartes.)
  • 1.5 Tbsp. Huile Tournesol (sunflower oil)
  • 1 7.5g Packet Sucre Vanille des Iles(vanilla flavored sugar)


NOTE: Best, is to refrigerate dough 12 hours before rolling, but OK without

Combine all ingredients in a bowl (sauf(except) water)

Mix with hands, until uniform "crumbly" consistency

Slowly add small amount of water (4-5 Tbsp), and mix well until it forms into ball

NOTE: If dough becomes sticky Lightly dust work surface and dough with flour

Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

Roll out dough using flour if becomes sticky.When dough is desired thickness,
loosely roll it around the rolling pin, and lay over tarte pan.

Press dough into pan, and trim pan edges.

Sprinkle 1 7.5 gr packet of Sucre Vanille des Iles over the pastry

Apple Filling:


  • 9 Canadian gris apples
  • 4+ Tbsp. Beurre non-salee
  • 4+ Tbsp. Sugar
  • 3 Packets Sucre Vanille des Iles


Peel, and slice apples into 1/8" slices

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in small saucepan over low heat.

Add half of the sliced apples to the saucepan, and sprinkle 1 packet of Sucre
Vanille over apples.
Cook, covered, until you have a smooth compote (apple sauce).

Spread the compote evenly over the base of the pastry.

Arrange the slices to completely cover the pastry (Remember…… first we taste with our eyes!)

Sprinkle 2 packets of Sucre Vanille, and 2+ Tbsp of Sucre over the apples

Divide beurre into small morsels and arrange over the tarte


In a preheated 200 degree oven for 1 hour. Watch until the top is golden brown.


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