Monday, December 31, 2012

Dec 2012

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Night at Eguisheim

Soon another year will be finished and the world did not end on the 21st.

I started  this month off in Fixin ( pronounced fee-san), just a few kilometers from Gevrey (dec 1st). Throughout the village wine makers had open house (Portes Ouverts) and an art show by the talented people of Fixin. A friend arranged for some members of the Photo Club to meet and take a small tour. She was showing some of her photos.
This was on a Saturday and Keith (like usual) was in Bligny working on the trains. Friends picked me up here in Gevrey. We arrived before the appointed time, so we had time to taste some wine not on our "tour". Our first wine at Domaine Molin. Kieth and I had been here before. We tasted some wonderful reds, but had to be cautious with swallowing because there was more on tour ( oh the heck with that, I was not driving). The second place was interesting. The woman talked about being a woman in the wine business. She thought it was difficult competing against the men, even with buyers from the USA. She also talked about making wine in the traditional way. We enjoyed the chat with her, but liked the first wine at D. Molin more.
Then up to the social center in the park called Noisot. This is where our Photo Club group was to meet and where our friend had her photos exhibited. She had some wonderful photos on display.

Domaine de la Pettiere
After looking at the photos, our next stop on the tour was Domaine de la Perrière. It is next to the parc Noisot, near the top of the hill in Fixin. It was built by the monks of Citeaux in 1142 (more info here if interested: Domaine-de-la-Perriere).

They have preserved the old wine press.. the year 1142

How old do you  think these bottles are!!
Some old and prestigious wine is stored here. Had to taste that wine, they even had a tasting of their wine that costs 50€ per bottle! Getting wires crossed, the 3 of us missed the next stop and went directly to the last place on the tour. More wine tasting and more art...forgot to mention that the local art was exhibited at each winery. I know it may sound like a lot wine, but you really are getting very little in a glass ( of course that depends on the person pouring the wine) There is the "crachoir" ( spittoon) and you toss or spit wine into it. One only savors and swallows  the very good ones.

During the month I went for other walks and some mushroom hunting, but will not bore you with more mushroom photos. For the first part of the month, we had cold, foggy, rainy weather. Then suddenly it changed. It has been above average temperatures for the last 10 days. Took a photo of a dandelion in bloom, it was over 60° that day. They are still in bloom...31st of December. Can you believe it!!
However because of the gloom, did not get out a lot to do much hiking. Marie Therese and I went down to Buxy to get some wine for her business, and a little Crémant for me too. Keith and I went down to see Jean-Claude in Rully for wine and a chat.

Just before Christmas, Keith and I went to Colmar and Eguisheim in the Alsace. Christmas customs here in Burgundy are not at all like the USA. Some people do decorate the house with lights, but very few. The villages put up some lights and some decorations too. But still not the same. So if you want more of the USA Christmas atmosphere, head up to Alsace. The German influence is huge (since the border changed a few times) and so it has more of the essence of an USA Christmas. However this year with the warm weather, it was a little different than last time we went and there was snow onthe ground.
We started in Colmar and wandered around to see the Christmas market. Later in the afternoon we went to Eguisheim where we were staying the night. They had a small Christmas market too.
Streets of Colmar
Hard to see the lavender decoration the building

Found some gingerbread men here, and Keith found a fruit cake called berawecka. He was so happy to find it, something he remembers having as a child (I am not a fruit cake person!!). We had a nice dinner, Keith going all out Alsatian food- ham hock, sauerkraut and potatoes! I should have taken a photo of that plate!
But we always enjoy our trip to Alsace. The villages are beautiful in the summer with flowers everywhere, almost like a movie set.

Keith on the hunt for berawecka

More than just gingerbread men is all gingerbread!
Need some Christmas decorations?
Pretzels or " Bretzels" are a hit in the Alsace

A log was light for some warmth at the market

Christmas came and went so fast. All of a sudden, it was a couple days until Christmas!!! yikes....and now it is over. We had dinner(at noon) with Maire Therese like we have in past years. We ate and drank and were merry! So much food, and very good food, and as always some excellent wine. Apertifs (including a little foie gras...mnn), wild smoked salmon ( not my favorite, but everyone else loves it), paté en croute (paté in a crust), wild boar(sanglier), cheese and dessert...[explode...].But all of this is over at least 5 hour period. It was a warm and sunny day. Who knew it would be like that when I got my idea for dessert. Chocolate cup filled with nougat semifreddo. I did panic a little on how to transport this in 50 degree weather. But it went well. Used ice packs , and all survived the 20 minute drive.
My dessert..cup is white and dark chocolate ( white just for looks)
and the inside filled with nougat semifreddo

So here is to a new year....2013. I am making my list of New Years resolutions, what are yours?


Nougat semifreddo
I will pass on the semifreddo recipe I found on the internet. If you search, there are many. This one did not have milk or cream...and it is so easy and really good.

250g/ 9 oz. mascarpone cheese
3 eggs, separated (and beat the egg whites firm)
2 tbsp caster sugar
100g/3½oz crunchy nougat, chopped by hand

Preparation method
Separate the eggs.
Put the yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until fluffy.
Add the mascarpone and keep beating.
Add the chopped nougat.
Fold in the egg whites beaten firm.
Coat a rectangular mould or small individual ones with parchment paper or cling film.
Pour the mixture in the mould or small individual ones.
Freeze for several hours before serving.
Tip the ice cream onto a serving dish and decorate with coffee beans and /or crushed hazelnuts.
Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November 2012

            NOVEMBER 2012

This month has not been remarkable, but nonetheless, it seems to have passed quickly. Suddenly it is the end. I know 30 days has Sept, April , June and November. Guess I was hoping for one more day…but there just isn’t one (OK so it is actually Dec 1).

The annual sale of wine was mi-November (152nd Hospices de Beaune wine auction). The red wine sales were up by 73%...a huge increase. Does that mean that the wine for 2012 is that much better.  Well, probably no, this year the sale had a few more Asians, and they were bidding high. They will realize in a few years that they do not need to push the price that high. Hey, but in the meantime, it is great for our economy here in the Cote D’Or. We will see what it does for us to buy a bottle. Yes the harvest of 2012 will cost more because the harvest was cut by 50% due to bad grapes. But the price per bottle will not be 73% higher than last year.
Beaune creates a festival weekend around this sale (Hospice de Beuane). I took the train to Beaune and met Marie Therese. The train was packed! People were standing and squashed in like a subway at rush hour. Thankfully it was only a 20 minute ride!
Once in Beaune, we found it equally crowded, but amused ourselves in spite of the crowds. There are always bands strolling through the streets, and lots of venders selling sausage, cheese, wine, champagne, truffles, cookies, oysters….and the list goes on.

There was also a cork pulling contest. 20 bottles (filled with water) were placed in front of the contestants. Who could pull the 20 corks first....and the winner is MT 

One of the bands in crazy costumes

Another band walking the streets 

Cork pulling contest

Been out in the woods a few times walking, enjoying the calm, and taking photos of mushrooms. I am trying to learn more, but it is not an easy subject. So many mushrooms to learn about. What shape is the cap, then to check on the gills[color,shape,type of connection to cap].....the list is endless in the points needed to make a good identification.
 I still go by Keith's little poem:
There are old mycologists,
 there are bold mycologists,
but there are not any OLD, BOLD mycologists

Don't eat what you do not know!

I think the little chocolate brown mushrooms are Cortinarius

This little one has a brown cap and bluish stem and gills
Ramaria aurea -I think. Very pretty mushroom

Calm of the woods -late November

Finished with the mushroom talk, before I loose everyone. THis is another story with a happy ending. Way back in the year 2000, my family sold our father's place in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota. The place was called Blackbird Island. That last year I went down to the beach and dug up some clay. I put this clay in a bag and moved it all the way here to France. Keith was digging in the garage last summer and found the box that had my bag. He said it was time to do something. So he hammered away to break it down into dust. I consulted with Christine (where I take pottery), and she told me after I had a fine powder, then put it through a sieve. After that, add water to make a water slip. Put this in a tray and wait for the water to evaporate. I followed these directions carefully and ended up with a course clay (sandy). We tried a little ball in the kiln, and VOILA, it worked. So I made a flower pot and a plate. Family take note, these are from Blackbird. I think I left a big enough clue for identification.

Blackbird Island plate

Blackbird Island flower or herb pot
I think I will close now with my recipe.

Red Wine Sauce

I was curious about rich red wine sauce. I had been thinking about Beef Wellington and how to make the sauce that went with it. I did not drive head first into Beef wellington, just the sauce this month. Not sure I can even duplicate it, but it was wonderful. Keith said it was the best sauce he ever tasted!!

1 bottle of Pinot Noir
1 garlic crushed
1 bouquet garnie
1 small onion chopped in chunks
1 or 1 1/2 cubes beef broth ( yes I cheated using a cube)
1 TBS vegetable oil
2-3 tsp of butter
Possible need for a cube or two of sugar
1 heap of patience

1. Saute the onion for a couple minutes and then add the garlic
2. Add the wine -whole bottle
3. Add the herbs
4. turn the heat way down and reduce by half
5. Strain the wine and return the wine to the pan
6. Taste...add one cube of beef broth ( at this point my sauce had a hard edge...not sure how good the wine was- so I added one cube of brown natural sugar
7. Reduce slowly
8 Taste every so often for the flavor.
9 You should end up with about 1/3 cup of thick rich wine (syrup consistancy). Add the butter 1 tsp at a time.

Is it worth it...yes!   Drizzled on a plate and a nice tenderloin on it is great. Please let me know if you try it and like it (or not).