Sunday, December 22, 2013


It is the end of December. Another year has passed.

I, or we (Keith is just downstairs), want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

With Christmas just around the corner, I will tell you a few things about a French Christmas. The night before Christmas (Veille de Noël)  is the time many families celebrate Réveillon. I believe traditionally it was the meal after midnight Mass. But now it is a family dinner on Christmas Eve.

To continue with "food" as my train of thought, the stores here are packed with all kinds of chocolates, different sizes, flavors and packaging magic. It is an amazing display of chocolate. I try to stay clear, walk through this part of the store real fast.
Let us now move on. Next are all the special coolers that have been added to the aisle in the stores, and these are filled with all types and choices for Foie Gras. Do you want the liver to prepare yourself? or do you prefer it prepared and in a pretty package. Cooked or not cooked, season or no or goose? mousse or solid? Whew...
And moving down the aisle, we arrive at the oysters! Did you know there are several types of oysters? and then it is important where they come from..
And of course wine and champagne everywhere....
Oh the culinary dilemma at this time of year!!! And yes, it is a season of great culinary delights and calories and cholesterol do not exist. That is the magic of Christmas, right?

Unfortunately for poor Keith, I am not an oyster person, so I do not buy them!!  Maybe for New Years.

We will celebrate Christmas with Marie Thérèse and family, as usual. I am preparing the same dessert as I did last year, the chocolate cups filled with nougat semi-freddo ( a little white chocolat for decoration).

As for news this last month, it has been a slow month. We had some extraordinary frost, several days of build up. I did not get out to take a lot of photos, but here are a few.
tree in our side yard

Back fence and frosty vines

Evening in Gevrey -Fog and frost on all the vines

Frosty tree in Gevrey
Our Tacot exposition went well, as reported in November. Here is a photo that was taken on opening day.
Photo was taken for the local newspaper
Keith has been working at Bligny repairing trains like he always does on Saturdays in the winter. He really enjoys his Saturdays with the "guys" (mecs). He has only been out on his bike a few times, with all the fog, days to ride have not been frequent.

Since it is Christmas, Pére Noël is popping up all over the place!! Here is a photo from Messanges.
Some of you have met Pére Noël while visiting Messanges.

I will stop here with a wish to all for Happy Holidays.

Recipe of the Month

Flammkuchen or Tarte Flambée  
This is an Alsatian dish. Very easy and very good. Give it a try. It is a little rich! Keith really enjoyed it the other night!

  • Pizza crust-(cookie sheet rectangle)
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 4 oz of cream cheese
  • 6 oz lardons ( thick bacon sliced into match sticks)
  • 1 onion -sliced
  1. Saute onion and add lardons to cook
  2. Roll out the pizza crust
  3. Prebake until it just starts to turn color
  4. Mix cream cheese with the creme fraiche
  5. Remove crust from oven
  6. Spread the cream cheese mixture
  7. Add the onion and lardon mixture on top
  8. Return to oven until hot (10 minutes)

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Trompette des Morts or Black chanterelle
I know this is a day late (no longer November, but it is Dec 1st), but so it goes sometimes. Today is chilly to say the least, just above freezing.
It has been a busy month here.

The first of the month I went into the woods for a walk and to look for mushrooms. We found and filled large bag of Trompette des Morts (cantharellus cornucopioides). This is a sought after mushroom of late fall, very good to eat and difficult to find. The bag was set on the ground temporarily, when along came Flipper (the dog) who thought it was a great time to play. He grabbed the bag and started to run. Oh what joy when everyone joined in chasing him!! He finally stopped when the bag was completely empty. We recovered some, but given the wide berth of the chase, we did not get many. But at least Flipper was happy and thought we all had such fun.

Mid month Keith and I went south to the Beaujolais region. There is a restaurant there that has a Michelin star. Madame Chagny had owned and run this restaurant for 40 years. Here is the Michelin note on the restaurant: "Enough of elegant decor and fashionable society! This regional institution, which has been run by Mme Chagny for over 40 years, has done away with luxury in order to better discover the flavours of an authentic and well-prepared local cuisine." So she gave up the second star in favor of good cooking and no bling. Unfortunately her health was not good, and she sold the place this last July. The restaurant still had good reviews, and good it was. Keith went for the menu of the day!! 
It started with the;
Amuse bouche: silky squash soup and little toasts and a gourgere
Entre: Escargots
Fish course: Sandre filet (like walleye)
Meat course: beef tenderloin and scallop potatoes (almost the same as-but sooo good)
Cheese course: various cheeses ( a large platter is brought to the table, and you choose what you want 
Dessert: He took the sorbet
Can you imagine all that food...and oh yes, some small pastries (friandise) at the end!! wouf!!
I did not go there!! I had some oeufs en meurette and pigeon.

The Beaujolais region is very hilly (yikes) with small roads with drop offs (I have a little problem with roads that have drop offs)! The leaves had turned, they were probably prettier the week before we were there. I took photos, but we had cloudy, rainy weather, and some were from the moving car.
Fleurie (oh for the sun..)

trompe l'oeil in Fleurie 

Photo from the car..Beaujolais region

Another photo from the car

Château - also from the car
hmmm Keith did not stop for me to take my photos!
We also stopped in Tournus the next day on the way home. Interesting city, however many little shops were closed for the season. A beautiful church in Tournus, St Philibert. This is an early 11th century church with a mosaic from about the 12th century. It is built in the Burgundian Romanesque style. Worth the visit.

Building behind the church-Tournus
The courtyard of the abbey

St Philibert church tower

Some of the fresco still on the ceiling- imagine the whole church painted inside

Large stone pillars of the church...this is
before the flying buttress

One of the astrological mosaics (only a couple left-others have been destroyed)
After our little trip, we had a mid-month surprise!! It only lasted the one day however.
From the bedroom window!

THE CAR!! Not familiar with this anymore!
We had a small Thanksgiving. Marie Thérèse and Christian and Tom (who worked with Keith and has moved to France) came over for dinner. Very typical Thanksgiving. I ordered a farm raised turkey(not industrial) and got a huge 5.5 kilo turkey (that is 12lbs). Here in france, at times you have to a little plucking, a few feathers left behind! (Hmm, what would some Americans think if the turkey came with some feathers still attached?) Mr Turkey was very good, and lots of leftovers.

This month, the 30th of November and December 1st is the Exposition of the Tacot. I have written about this small train in previous months. I worked on putting the interviews into a film; there were about 10 people interviewed and filmed on their memories of the Tacot. We also have a hiking trail that goes over parts of the route, lots of old post cards, and actual pieces of the rail for sale. As of yesterday it has been a big success. Have not stopped by yet today.
about 6 inch piece of the actual rail, cut, cleaned, edges rounded, numbered and varnished.

We had 72 pieces cut from a 9 meter rail

Train and depot hand built -Typical train depot

It is the start of the Christmas season. Here in Burgundy, Christmas is a little different. They have a marché de Noël (Christmas market) in Dijon, but each year it is smaller.  Here, the celebration is more emphasis on the réveillon (Christmas eve dinner). Of course all the children now know about Saint Nicolas. But still it is not as commercial as the US. Many of the traditions in the US ( Christmas tree for example) are a more German. If we go to the Alsace, we see a little more of the Christmas that is more familiar. Some people put up Christmas lights here, but not everyone. Christmas trees are sold here, but not every house has one. It is just a different atmosphere, and a little hard to describe the differences. The Christmas lights of our ville of Gevrey were turned on this week.


I doubt this is very french. I have a slow cooker called a mijoter. The slow cooker is not big here yet, most would just use the oven. I finally found one a one and use it every so often. This Sunday, Dec 1st, with the Expo, I threw it all into the slow cooker and hoped for the best.

Pork (tenderloin or chops)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper
2 large TBS of mild paprika
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp vinegar
Salt to taste

Toss it all into the slow cooker. Let it cook about 8 hours or according to the directions of your slow cooker.
C'est tout ( that is all)