Monthly Archives: September 2009

Frenchitude Lesson #47: Homemade Crème Fraiche

During my five years in France, I realized that Crème Fraiche that delectable French cream that goes perfectly in your quiche batter or dolloped on top of a bowl of freshly picked strawberries – is one of those precious things that, like reading your children’sphonetically spelled notes, makes life worth living.

There is Crème Fraiche in the huge majority of French refrigerators, but although I have searched high and low, I haven’t been able to locate this essential kitchen item since arriving in Victoria.

So I trolled the Internet, which I am increasingly finding is one of the best cooking tools Out There and found out how to make my own homemade Crème Fraiche.

Now, before your eyes glaze over and you jump to another post, please keep in mind that if a recipe isn’t as easy as falling off a log, I just don’t do it more than once.

And I make up a mason jar-full of Crème Fraiche pretty much every week and keep it in my fridge. Oui, it is THAT easy.

Tempted? Of course you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog, n’estce pas? 😉

Here are the required ingredients & equipment:

Ingredients:

– 1 cup of sour cream (I use full-fat, as I think you probably know by now that I believe full fat things are essential to a happy, satisfied existence, but let me know how it turns if you try low-fat sour cream – I must say though, I’m not holding my breath)

– 1 cup of cream, anywhere from 10% to 18% (I highly recommend the 18%)

Equipment:

– Bowl or Jar;

– A humble dishtowel;

– A whisk or, if you are like me and can never remember where you put the whisk after unloading the dishwasher, a fork.

(Overwhelmed yet? I thought not.)

Instructions:

– Stir together sour cream and cream in bowl or jar with whisk (or fork). Cover with dishtowel and leave out for 7-8 hours or overnight;

– Next morning give it another few stirs;

– Put jar or bowl in fridge;

– Enjoy!

Here chez Germain we enjoy Crème Fraiche on our pasta, in our quiches, and I will be using it to make a lemon tarte to take to my sister’s for dinner on Friday night. Voilà! From now on, not living in France is no excuse for denying yourself one of life’s great pleasures.

Fête du Cassis – 5&6th September, 2009

Newsflash!

For all you cassis (blackcurrant) lovers out there, there is a big cassis festival going on in our neck of the Burgundian woods this weekend – September 5th and 6th. It all happens in the gorgeous little hamlet of Conceour just above Nuits-Saint-Georges, and minutes away from Magny-les-Villers and Villers-la-Faye.

For 4 Euros and 50 centimes you can buy an emblazoned kir tasting glass and join in the fun. Visits to the cassis fields, tastings, pressings, and of course wonderful local food will round out the festivities.

For more details (though because I am no longer there to translate tourist documents, not in English) just click here.

And just in case you’ve forgotten how to make a kir – THE most Burgundian of apéritifs and a drink I love so profoundly that my French friends had the cheek to suggest that it would be easier to simply hook me up and administer it to me intravenously – here’s the Germain recipe…

Laura’s Kir:

1/3 Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant) liquor – Vedrenne is a very good brand, and in the Hautes-Côtes around where we are do check out the local producers such as the Ferme Fruirouge in Concoeur itself and the Jouannet family in Meuilley.

+

2/3 Bourgogne Aligoté – We *heart* the aligoté from Domaine Naudin-Ferrand in Magny but in a pinch any dry white wine can suffice.

Step #1: Pour the cassis and then the aligoté into a short wine glass (NEVER pour in the wine first, then add the cassis, or stir for that matter).

Step #2: Sip

Step #3: Contemplate the wisdom of the following quote from Victor Hugo, “God made only water, but man made wine.”

Status: Recovered

Apparently some people are wondering how us Germains are all adjusting to life in Canada. To be honest, I think we all still feel like we’re on summer vacation. I don’t really think the reality of our move here is going to settle down upon us until school starts and we don’t find ourselves boarding a plane (or planes, more accurately) back to Burgundy.

We’ve spent the last six weeks recovering from the move, which with a toddler underfoot and all the emotion that was involved in saying good-bye to our beloved Burgundy was frankly one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. I would agree that this is proof that our lives have been blessedly trauma-free so far (and merci dieu may it continue thus), but it still left me and ma petite famille emotionally and physically depleted.

My extended family here in Canada has been a HUGE help and made the transition ridiculously easy for us. This has left Franck and I with time to do a lot of hanging out and spending time with our bevy and with each other, reconnecting and relishing the fact that there are no boxes that need packing.

This has meant that my posting has been a little lighter and definitely more sporadic than usual over the past few weeks. However, from what I could tell it looked like many readers were likewise spending more time than usual offline in order to make wonderful summer memories of their own.

I have discovered over the past few years that the internet is a great place, but it will never replace real life and moments like this;

And like this…

And just for the record, I think I can safely say that we are now officially recovered!

Authentic France Travel Tip #45: Take Part in The Harvest

You heard it here first! I Skyped my dear amie Charlotte B. this morning and she told me that the 2009 grape harvest (known in France as “les vendanges“) is slated to start next Thursday, September 10th.

It is hard to time a vacation in Burgundy, or any of France’s other wonderful wine regions, to coincide with les vendanges because the date is almost impossible to predict until a week or two before it actually starts. It all depends on what Mother Nature has up her sleeve – the amount of rain, of sun, and of heat.

If you luck out and happen to be in Burgundy during the vendanges, however, take time to bike or walk through the vineyards and winemaking villages to soak up this effervescent atmosphere (not to mention the fumes of macerating grapes which hang, redolent, over the stone streets). Sometimes I felt drunk just wandering the streets of PernandVergelesses or Villers-la-Faye during harvest.

So breathe deep – Les vendanges is what the soul of Burgundy is all about.