Why it’s such a pleasure to come back to France?
Is it the musical tones of the language, the cheese [heavenly], the cafe culture, the pâtisseries [devine], the high quality meat/fish products, the olives, the wine, the beer, the friendly locals, the wonderful housesits, the food markets, the history, the culture, the architecture, the lack of tourists, the countryside walks?
Food from the local pâtisserie or market eaten in a cafe [takeaways allowed in cafe] setting, park, or just sitting outside in the backyard and it’s just a slice of heaven to be savoured and enjoyed. Even in this small village of Fruges, middle of the night hunger can be satisfied with a “hole in the wall” access to a baguette or two. A bit like a money machine! Very novel we thought! Every time we visit our local patisserie [photograph below] we are greeted warmly, and with much patience, as I try my very limited French plus lots of hand movements to demonstrate what we want to buy.
The Nord-Pas-de-Calais there is known to be over 60 different kinds of cheese from the mild Heart in Arras or rollot from Créquy to the powerful ‘Vieux Lille’, ‘Maroilles’ and Boulette d’Avesnes! There are more traditional real ale breweries in the Nord-Pas de Calais than in any other region of France, 15 ‘brasseurs’ produce dark and light ales with their own distinctive flavours.
Here is one Brasseur to give you an idea “3brasseurs-coquelles”.
With the above knowledge, the squire and I are going to be rather busy sampling many of these wonderful cheeses and beers. As many of you will know that he is rather fond of consuming a cheese and onion sandwich [baguette/croissant] for lunch, or any occasion when I come to think about it.
Yes, it’s winter here. Catching up on things, dog walking, cooking, eating and just relaxing is our plan for our first couple of weeks. I am enjoying cooking and trying new products. Even managed a flamiche-leek-pie which is a traditional dish in the area and Belgium. Then there’s the classic pork stew, amazingly with very little fat [local supermarket Carrefour] and still full of flavour. Did I mention the vegetables? Yes, there are a few [leeks, carrots, swedes, chicorée, cauliflower, potatoes] to be found at this time of year. Perfect for making big pots of soup with crusty bread, then maybe a cheeseboard.
At this point I’m thinking, thank goodness for the long dog walks to use up some of those calories. Though, who the heck counts calories when in “Cheeseland”.
Dinner time – l’heure du dîner
Bon Appetit xx