Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chef's lunch for Chefs

Ok some of you will probably gag but we French eat most everything and today I got to eat one of my favorites .  I visited an old friend ( from the 70') and being a Chef too he prepared a lunch that few people (mostly Chefs) would like. My friend Arnaud is a retired Chef and simply living the right way when it comes to food. He only uses fresh ingredients and cooks the local way with traditional methods and techniques. I really like that and would like to go back to it when I do return to live here the majority of the time.
For the aperitif we drank a glass of chilled Jurançon which is the local sweet wine and no fancy hors d'oeuvres here, just a few peanuts, after all we would not fill up on snack food now would we ? This was the best wine in its category "Passerillé en Novembre" meaning the late harvest with the December harvest being the best but also the most expensive since there is much less of it.

We started with the traditional pate made of pork liver and pork jowl with time tested seasonings, crusty bread (yeah we are in France and when we say crusty, it is just that) and cornichons. Then it was time for the local version of cured ham "jambon Bearnais" with good butter, yummmmmmmmmmm ! this is just  a great combo of flavor, tradition and culture all in one. Then for another much different bit came the "bulots"which are some version of sea snails, very fresh and cooked in the shell served with scratch mayonnaise.
 I am not too fond of anything slithering but being a good guest, I did try it. A bit chewy but flavorful and very fresh. So far it would have been enough for me but we do not want to upset the host now do we ?

Next came the "gras doubles" which in America are called tripes, yes you read it right, that would be the insides of a cow or veal. These are slowly braised for about 12 hours with tomatoes,onions,carrots,white wine and basic aromatics . Just served with boiled potatoes and that crusty bread,it is what I would call French comfort food for a dreary and cold day.I love it,I love I love it. Then came the local cheese made with sheep's milk and the "greuil" which is the local version of fresh cheese made after the first batch of curd has been removed. For wine, a bottle of good Beaujolais nouveau which matched everything then back to the Jurançon with the traditional King's Cake for dessert.

It was all about our own corner of the world. We really did not care what was happening anywhere else. The French have a way to elevate the simplest thing in everyday's life to precious moments and forever memories. I know, I know what you all are thinking but once you are here you'll change your mind.

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