Tag Archive for: French holiday home

Blowing Hot and Cold in the south of France

Now summer is here and the balmy warm evenings are allowing us to eat out on the terrace of our French holiday home, Chez Maison Bleue. The salada, lettuce are in plentiful supply and tomatoes are getting cheaper on Mirepoix market so we are serving more and more salads as a first course at dinner. Although we do some simple salade jambon, salad with the local cured ham, I like to serve warm salads. Unlike in England, here in the south of France warm salads are very common. The most common warm ingredient is lardons, small pieces of fried bacon, but other diced meats are also used. An Ariege speciality is gesier, the gizzard of a duck. Although it sounds pretty awful it is absolutely delicious! If you are not feeling quite so adventurous try this chicken salad for a great light lunch.

Warm chicken salad, provenance of the food is assured

Warm chicken salad, provenance of the food is assured

Prepare a bed of lettuce with a circle of tomato slices around the outside of the plate and maybe some peppers or red onions finely sliced – anything you fancy really but leave space for the chicken in the centre. Next take a skinned chicken breast and cut into strips. Put a little olive oil in a pan and add 2 cloves of chopped garlic (home grown here) some herbs de Provence, and a little chopped dried chilli (the amount depending on how hot and spicy your taste). Heat the pan and fry the herbs and garlic until the garlic starts to brown then add the chicken strips turning them to brown on all sides. Keep tuning until cooked through, this will only take a few minutes. Put the chicken strips onto the centre of the salad and pour over some of the oil and fried garlic as a dressing, serve immediately.

You will also find cold soups on the menu at our B&B, again not a popular thing in the UK where soup is something to warm you up. Our holiday home is close to Spain so Gazpaccio is very popular. With all the delicious and plentiful tomatoes and vegetable from the potager or from Mirepoix market, it is a beautiful entree on a hot evening. The other classic cold soup is crème vichyssoise.  This classic dish is only associated with France because of its name and the fact that it was invented by a French chef. In fact it was first served by Louis Diat the chef at the Ritz – Carlton Hotel in New York in the summer of 1917 and is now considered an American dish. It is essentially a leek and potato soup with a significant amount of cream. It should be made well in advance and chilled for at least two hours before serving. It is important to only use the white part of the leek as the soup should be pure white in colour.

So we will continue to serve have hot salads and cold soups for dinner at our B&B in the south of France. They make delicious and healthy starters or a light lunch dish.

Tour de France 2013

The route for the Tour de France 2013 shows Stage 8, Castres to Ax 3 Domaines, coming close to our B&B in the south of France when it passes between Limoux and Quillan. Limoux is 26km from our French holiday home in the hills south of Carcassonne. Our holiday cottage is booked already but we have rooms available in our very French bed & breakfast on the tranquil village square near Chalabre.

Tour de France, Chalabre 2012

Restoration of our 18th century gite

The restoration of our holiday cottage in the south of France was undertaken by our team of artisans exceptionnels, headed up by our French architect Sophie Baby of Mirepoix. Much angst, zillions of euros, and a few tears* have resulted in a beautifully restored, very French holiday home. The same team is now working on our B&B next door to the gite on the village square, Sonnac sur l’Hers. Our maçon is missing from the photograph, now there’s a surprise, he’s been AWOL for weeks since taking all the tiles off the roof in fact. Hope he shows up soon, opening date for the B&B is fast approaching. *The towel radiator in the bathroom is not where I wanted it to be, a metre thick stone wall was in the way – seems so trivial now but last summer I wanted to kill someone.

Artisans exceptionnels

 

Eau de vie in the south of France

The mobile distillery has pitched up behind our French holiday home in Languedoc as it does every year. It’s like nothing you have seen before, a time machine that you expect to explode into orbit at any moment, the product of the mind of an eccentric professor following a supper of magic mushrooms? Perhaps I exaggerate slightly – but see for yourself.

How old do you reckon?

The fruit that failed to make the harvest is gathered from the valley floor- apples, pears, grapes and plums – water is added courtesy of a hose to the tap in the churchyard, and following a secret, scientific process deep in the bowels of the time machine, a particularly potent moonshine is produced. You know this for a fact because all the villagers are rosy cheeked and never miserable.

We have looked on in amusement each year at what we thought could only be bootleg activity; it always seems to appear in the middle of the night. However, we have learned that the tradition of turning windfall fruit into something far more satisfying is a tradition that has been passed down the generations in this part of Languedoc, but can only be passed from father to son. More and more young people are failing to take up their birthright and so the tradition will finally die out, but for now it is a very colourful addition to our winter landscape in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

 

Blog

Welcome to our blog for Chez Maison Bleue, our holiday cottage and B&B in the hills south of Carcassonne. Scroll down to explore the different categories listed on the left, click the centre of  the photos to enlarge. Hope you enjoy it, feedback welcome – be nice!  We hope to welcome you to our very French holiday home in the south of France.

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