The bottle to the right led to a fascinating conversation about what what we were doing in 1988 when the grapes for this wine were grown, including our favorite songs then. Songs by the French group “Telephone” ranked high for everyone but me (who was in Grade 10 in Victoria, Canada – a continent away – with a certain penchant for the romantic ballads of Air Supply).
This weekend the cherries on my sister-in-law’s two cherry trees – one black and one sour – were ripe for picking. The weekend was also the date of our annual pantagruelesque picnic on Les Chaumes, and one of my jobs was to bring dessert. Put these two events together, and what do you get? A delicious homemade clafoutis.
Steph lent me her favorite recipe, and besides being as easy as falling off a log (if you click on my “favorite recipies” tag, you will note this is a common denominator!) it consists of ingredients you can find just as easily in North America or Britain as in France.
So…êtes-vous prêts de Clafoutis aussi?
For 6-8 people
– 500 grams of black or sour cherries (freshly picked is best)
– 4 eggs
– 125 grams of white sugar
– a pinch of salt
– 80 grams of white flour
– 1/4 of a litre of milk
– 60 grams of butter
– 1 small package or one soup spoon of vanilla sugar (optional)
– Melt 30 grams of the butter in microwave or small casserole. Set aside.
– Mix eggs together in medium sized bowl with fork. Add the salt, sugar and mix well.
– Pour in flour and mix again until there are no “lumps’ left.
– Add the 30 grams of melted butter and the milk. Mix again until smooth.
– Wash and remove the pits from the cherries (I do this, although Franck’s gradmother was firmly rooted in the “do not remove the pits’ camp – just be careful of your fillings!) and spread evenly on a well-buttered 9 x 13 baking dish (glass or porcelein preferable).
– Pour the liquid mixture over the cherries and then dot with the rest of the butter.
– Put in a 220 degree Celsius oven for around 35-45 minutes, keeping an eye on it that it doesn’t start to burn.
– When you remove it from oven, sprinkle with package of vanilla sugar if available. Serve at room temperature.
Since our arrival in Burgundy we have been blessed with consistently sultry, gorgeous evenings that seem to go on forever.
We have tried to get up to Les Chaumes as often as we can to enjoy one of our favorite family summer treats – savouring an after-dinner ice cream as we watch the setting sun over the vineyards.
The other night was so beautiful that Charlotte and Camille and I decided to stroll back down the hill to La Maison des Chaumes while Franck and Clem drove down in the car (don’t tell this to the local gendarmes, but an essential part of the thrill of these Chaumes expeditions is that we throw all the kids in the trunk and drive them up there with them rolling around in the back, shrieking with laughter).
Anyway, on our way down we listened to the birds singing and the crickets chirping and Charlotte said, “I can’t explain it, but I feel like part of me belongs here.”
There were moments – many, many of them – during our five years here in France when things were really difficult, and I was barely holding it together. I asked myself again and again if we were making an epic mistake in uprooting the girls from their lives in Canada. But every time I tried to remind myself what a gift Franck and I both felt it was for the girls to be given the opportunity to appropriate their father’s French language and culture for themselves.
And now I can say that even though it wasn’t always easy, it was definitely worth it.
Imagine how distressed we were when we arrived in Burgundy only to learn that our favorite boulanger in the galaxy (the one from Comblanchien) had gone on vacation.
I’m happy to report, however, that he is now back at work where he should be (!) and his pain, brioche, pain aux chocolats, are still completely out of this world. And don’t even get me started on his tarte aux mirabelles.