I’m back! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? This time I have a good excuse and it involves open-air marketplaces, freshly-baked baguettes, foie gras and vineyards. We were in France, as you may have guessed. And a side-trip to Piedmont (pics to follow!). Too many food adventures for one post!
While I work on some recipes to share with you, here’s a peek of what we’ve been up to. Our home base in France is a town called Prévessin-Moëns, where Stephane grew up. It’s located half-way between the Jura mountains and the French Alps and just bordering Geneva, Switzerland. The next town over is Ferney-Voltaire, named after the illustrious writer Voltaire. His chateau is surrounded by beautiful gardens and it sits atop the tiny village. Just 200 feet away is the town center where on Saturdays a weekly open-air market is held. Strolling through the market is like taking a virtual-food-tour of the entire country. Oysters fresh that morning from Brittany presented by the fisherman himself, strawberries and olives from the south, cheese from the Jura mountains, chicken from Bresse (the best chicken in the world according to my husband) and steaming bread just waiting to jump into your bag and be brought home.
Here I am slurping some oysters at 11am. I think my six-year old son describes them best: “it tastes like the sea”. Clean, soft minerals, refreshing. And yes, our six-year old likes oysters!
The market is a all-sensory experience. The scents and perfumes of the rich and exotic herbs, the earthly scent of fresh vegetables, the sweet fruits, the fresh fish….it’s all too much for this American girl to handle! I was in heaven.
And, it was packed. Markets like this are not a new-age trend. For centuries here artisans, farmers, butchers, fisherman, and the like come and sell their products to the eagerly awaiting customers. Talk about buying local. It is just ingrained in the French culture to buy what is in season and what is produced nearby, all the while supporting it’s country’s food industry.
We also went to Lyon, the city known as the capital of Gastronomy of France. Which is of course, why we went. It’s also a beautiful city, wreathed in spring blossoms, it was full of life. People were out walking, eating in the plaza’s, sitting on park benches, and riding bikes.
Lyon is situated between two famous wine regions, Beaujolais to the North, and the Côtes du Rhône to the South. The wines go very well with their typical Lyonnaise food, which is very heavy and very meat-based. The restaurants that serve this traditional food are called Bouchons and they look like this:
Typical Lyonnaise salad: lardons, croutons, egg with a mustard vinaigrette.
Let’s head over to Les Halles des Lyon, shall we? An indoor market where can you find foie gras, fois gras macaroons, every rendition of pork you can imagine, regional wine, cheese, bread, seafood…..It’s an indoor market with just about everything.
One of the best parts about being in Europe is joining in on the on-going, everyday celebration of food.
Typical Lyonnaise charcuterie. Do you see pig nose on the far left bottom? As well as the feet and everything else in between. Nose to tail, at it’s best.
This is an almond of the sea. I thought it was an oyster at first, and this was a first for me. You eat it like an oyster, however it’s firmer and meatier.
Spanish Iberico Ham. French, non. But this ham is amazing because of it’s unique flavors (the Southern Spanish pigs munch on acorns) and we couldn’t walk past without having some. Served on a warmed plate, it almost melts in your mouth.
Foie-gras made by ma belle-mere on Easter. What that’s you say? A holistic nutritionist eating foie-gras? What do I say, when in Rome? Pourquoi pas? It just goes along with my philosophy that moderation is key, knowing thy food, and enjoying the moment. It’s all good.