June 25, 2010




sea and sand



Saint Félicien



 sun (and siestas!)




. Pin It

June 23, 2010

La Fête du Fromage - Chèvre Fermier


Behind the soft grey, unassuming exterior of this local Chèvre Fermier lurks a truly divine cheese - one that I couldn't help but fall in love with.  
It has a fine, velvety texture and a flavor that is both sweet and salty, with hints of herbs and earth that are balanced by a mild, milky freshness.  The best thing is that it is produced in the "neighborhood," about an hour's drive from our house, so I know I can easily get more when I need to.
Which I'm sure will be soon.

This is the second cheese that I've fallen for from La Razègue, a small goat farm near the gorgeous village of Roquebrun in the Haut Languedoc.  The other one is Le Razégou, a very fresh and oozing little morsel that melts in your mouth and practically slides off your plate if you let it sit for too long.
I'm not sure if they produce any other cheeses, but I can't wait to find out.  I think they have truly perfected the art of fromage de chèvre.

Not surprisingly it paired perfectly with some red wine from the co-op just down the road in Cessenon-sur-Orb.

. Pin It

June 20, 2010

Sunday Lunch in the Haut Languedoc

The unseasonable cold and impressive gusts of wind blowing through the Haut Languedoc meant that lunch on the terrace was impossible.
No matter.
Our friends prepared a gorgeous summery feast today that made us forget all about the weather.  Homemade aïoli, local smoked trout, earthy lentil salad, wine from a co-op in a neighboring village and a cheese course from heaven.
What a perfect day.

Pin It

June 17, 2010

La Fête du Fromage - le Coeur de Chèvre

I'm sure you're expecting me to say some thing like I ♥ this cheese!

Unfortunately, I can't say that I did.

Yes, I liked le Coeur de Chèvre, but I just didn't fall head over heels for it.
It seems like I keep running into a certain style of fromage de chèvre that has these super spicy flavors with bitter undertones, and I'm just not smitten with the combination.  I like strong, I like spicy and I like tangy, but throwing that hint of bitter into the mix doesn't work for me.
If you ask my husband, however, he'll tell you that it was fabulous.  Et voilà.

While I was tasting I made the following notes:
spicy and meaty flavored, with bitter herbs
full bodied and a lingering flavor
not shy!
fragile and soft, but not oozing
slightly milky, fresh aroma

Le Coeur de Chèvre is an artisanal, unpasteurized cheese from the gorgeous Quercy region of southwestern France.  It has a natural, edible rind and and a  lush, creamy texture. 
Taste with a light, fruity red wine such as Beaujolais or a white from the Rhône.

My final word on this cheese - if you see it, buy it.  You just might ♥ it!

Pin It

June 16, 2010

Apéro Hour

I'm afraid that the apéro hour extended into apéro two hours this evening, thus la Fête du Fromage post didn't get finished.  Please have a look for it tomorrow.

. Pin It

June 14, 2010

Olonzac Market Day

We got incredibly lucky when we found our petit village in France.

Our original house search was over near Pézenas, a charming town with loads of history and a rollicking Saturday market, just the kind of place we were looking to move to.  At that time we had never even heard of the Minervois.
After several, costly house hunting trips to and from the States, each time the house prices rising at an alarming rate, we made a final, desperate trip over to find our place in France before it became unaffordable.

Driving toward the remote dot on the map where we were to meet our realtor, totally jet lagged and running late because those little dots on the map seem much closer together distance-wise than the actually are, we became enchanted by the garrigue covered hills and the orderly rows of vines that seemed to cover every inch of available land.
She showed us a small house that was bright, light and not needing complete renovation like so many others we had seen.  The village even had a bar and an épicerie, two services in rural France that make life a little more comfortable.
We made an offer that afternoon.  It was accepted later that evening and we spent the next ten days celebrating our purchase and enjoying a relaxing vacation instead of house hunting.

We spent a good part of those ten days exploring the area that we would one day call home.  There were restaurants to try and wine to taste and furniture stores to find.  And we quickly made an important discovery;  the lively little market town of Olonzac was just five minutes down the road..

The buzzing metropolis of Olonzac - I say that very tongue in cheek, but admittedly anything around here with three boulangeries, several doctors, two pharmacies, a handful of cafés and a couple of banks is considered buzzing - puts on a great show every Tuesday morning.
The sprawling, L-shaped market takes over the center of town.  Half of it is dry goods - clothes, shoes, soap, CD's, hats, kitchenware, jewelry, books, pet toys and even pastel colored bras and panties, while the other half, on a tiny street that winds up through the center of the circulade, is everything food related.

I like to taste as I shop.  Samples of olives, saucisson, fruit, cheese and even a little glass of local wine are all available from persuasive vendors.  And by 11am, a morsel of local fromage de brebis or saucisson au Roquefort is impossible to resist.
Most of our weekly food shopping is done at the market.  There are several vendors who I trust to offer the best fruit and vegetables of the season, the freshest pork and sausages, farm fresh eggs or exquisitely made local cheeses.  Shopping definitely takes more time at le marché, but I think it is worth every minute.

For a town with (what I consider) a tiny population of about 1600 people, Olonzac, the "Capital of the Minervois," is a fantastic neighbor.

Pin It

June 9, 2010

La Fête du Fromage - Fantine

Another week, another fabulous French cheese.

My addiction to fromage has hit epic proportions since being on my own for the last few weeks. 
A hunk of baguette, a sliced tomato and a bit of cheese has become my perfect meal.  Even for breakfast.  And if I'm feeling really adventurous I'll add a handful of arugula or a portion of carottes râpées to my plate.
I've reacquainted myself with some old friends such as Rocamadour and Ossau-Iraty, and brought home a mouthwatering, nutty wedge of 18 month old Comté one day.  (I must confess that I cheated on French fromage a couple of times with Italian formaggio, but my dear French fromage knows it will always be my true love)

My newest acquaintance is Fantine, a fromage férmier from the Cantal region in south-central France.

Fantine's aroma is full of rich, earthy mushrooms and its medium-strong flavor is bursting with flowers, butter and yeast.  The creamy, pressed pâte is silky smooth giving this unpasteurized cow's milk cheese a very luxurious mouth feel.
If you're a fan of cheeses like Laguiole or Salers, then you will love Fantine.  Enjoy with a glass of Touraine.

When I bought it at the market, I worried a bit about the cracks and holes along the rind.  But the flavor was wonderful, so possibly it was just poor handling by the seller?

. Pin It

June 6, 2010


The month of June is pretty near perfect, if you ask me. 

Cherries and apricots and melons arrive at the markets, the mind-numbing summer swelter has yet to hit its stride and on the 21st all of France stops to listen at the Fête de la Musique

Lavender is starting to bloom and the aroma is divine!

Mastering Cheese by Max McCalman finally landed on my doorstep and I'm slowly savoring every word.

The first crop of figs are ripe for the picking.

Blue, blue skies above.

Poppies - they're fading fast, but still brightening up the fields.

Mild-mannered spring garlic is in season.

Al fresco dining has officially begun.

. Pin It

June 2, 2010

La Fête du Fromage - Magnum

"Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything." - Eugene Delacroix

If cheesemaking is an art, and I absolutely believe it is, then the cheesemakers at La Ferme de Roquecave are true artists.  The owners of this little farm in the Haut Languedoc focus on producing a small array of organic fromages de chèvre, and they do them beautifully.

My latest purchase from their stand at the Olonzac market is this wrinkly, ash covered goat's cheese called Magnum.
I was curious where that name came from, but the farmer's daughter was doing the selling that day and had absolutely no idea.  Maybe they just like interesting names?  Perhaps it's an inside joke? 
They also have a cheese called Fouettard Claquemolle, undoubtedly one of the most bizarre names I've ever come across.
Maybe they sat around one day drawing names out of a hat?
It doesn't really matter, as all of their cheeses, La Lauze and Chèvre de Roquecave included, are so delicious that their names are inconsequential.

This is a intensely goaty goat's cheese, so it definitely wouldn't appeal to everyone.  It packs a tangy, lemony punch and its medium strong flavor lingers on your tongue.  It is chalky and chewy, and the soft, finely textured, creamy pâte simply melts in your mouth.
Magnum is a sublime, very sophisticated cheese that I think comes pretty close to perfection.

Since the farm is just up the road from us I decided to taste it with a local red from the Minervois.  It was a match made in heaven!

Pin It