Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Sea snails and sausages

So France was awesome. Great to see my parents and their incredible new house, sleeping in late and spending evenings drinking red wine and eating our body weights in cheese. I even got to spend a glorious afternoon cruising around my parents' 3 acres on a ride-on mower. Perfecto. 
There's very little in this world of ours that will make me happier than an afternoon spent wandering around the food markets in a foreign country. There are just so many exciting smells, sights and sounds you've never encountered before. Even the things that are the same are different. Sure we've got radishes back home. But not these radishes, these are French radishes.
These were cabbage leaves, steamed and then stuffed with beef and pork. They smelled amazing. Anyone with an interest in cooking, looking for some inspiration should get themselves down to their nearest market. And invite me. 
 Not a cheddar to be seen. And that's ok.
Homard de Chausey. (or 'lobster de chaucey' to you and me)
At €1 a pop I felt like I was robbing this poor guy. The salted caramel macaron was a thing of French beauty. My fiancee tried to make macarons once. And I'm a good person so I'll leave it at that.
Ok so that's Italian, but we'll let them off because it looks so damn pretty.
My parents have been bringing me back big bags of sea salt from Brittany for a few years now and I totally swear by it. Get some good salt in your life, trust me on this.
Jams. All of the jams.
You'd think this might be an unsafe way to balance several dozen bottles of wine, but no, the French have it covered I guess. Cheap as chips this stuff, and tastes just as good too.
The French enjoy a sausage. The Bretons particularly enjoy the Andouillette Sausage. It is...interesting. We'll come back to that guy...
'Like a calzone!' - Monsieur Pastry Chef shouted at me. A mega-calzone. These things were loaded with minced pork and vegetables and mushrooms. A master tradesman at work.
It's nice to see misshaped fruit and vegetable getting pride of place at the market. They might be a bit fugly but you know they're the best tasting.
All different shapes and sizes of oysters, cheap as you like and sold by the side of the road. Ask my Dad to tell you his oyster story. don't, actually.
A wedge of goats' cheese, melted on some crusty bread and stuck on a bed of salad. Simple food, done perfectly. God bless the French.
THAT is how you cook a duck. Beautiful. And the most incredible raspberry vinaigrette. It took all my strength not to raid the kitchen in search of the recipe. 
Les boulots. Sea snails. My only issue with these was that they came pre-cooked so you ate them cold. Which gave them time to...firm up. Otherwise, you dunk something in enough aioli and it's going to taste decent enough. The missus wimped out.
Remember those sausages? So they're made of intestines. The smell has been described as that of a dirty men's bathroom. The texture is also a bit tubey for my taste.
How about something a bit nicer? There was nothing wrong with these little pastries...
We went to this incredible farm shop, full of fresh local produce. Dirty carrots are trustworthy carrots.

L'escargot, obviously.
So I'll leave you now with a duck in a jar. Why not? I miss France already.

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