Amanda on June 1st, 2007
Cherries

Cherries

Our village markets have now spread to their exuberant summer size, a mass of miscellaneous stalls winding their way round ancient churches and through cobbled alleyways. In one of my local haunts the lavender lady has reappeared after her winter hibernation. She sells dried bunches, tiny bottles of essence, fabulous soaps and handmade sachets. Her stall just emanates the fragrant south. Next to her the old man who usually sells walnuts and prunes now has a heap of glistening cherries, for June is the month of this glorious fruit. The season is short lived, an expensive trickle in late May turns into a steady stream in early June. By mid-June we are completely flooded, prices go through the floor and we are eating them every morning for breakfast and every evening after dinner. All the restaurants have a clafoutis – the traditional cherry dessert of the region – on the menu. Children take handfuls of luscious fruit for a goûter after school, and I’m to be found sitting on the terrace in the shade of a lemon tree, typing away, with a plate beside me.
Silk, satin, cotton, ra…’ I hurriedly eat another one. Read More »

French Life in Glorious June from French Life

Amanda on October 1st, 2006
Morning Mist

Morning Mist

October has stolen in with her spectacular mists and temperate breezes bringing in her wake a flurry of seasonal activity. It’s the time of the vendanges and in the Quercy that doesn’t just mean the grapes but the walnuts too. All day long you can see the tall, blue harvesters sailing over the vineyards like land-loving catamarans. At night you can still hear the distinctive drone and spot the vineyards by the lights as an indefatigable workforce press on well after dark. By nine o’clock the buzz gradually ceases and lines of lights appear bumping down the tracks. It’s dinnertime and not even the lure of a bumper harvest safely gathered will come between a Frenchman and a good dinner. The narrow lanes are crowded with tractors now too; there are squashed grapes on every hairpin bend and the odd ancient beast, spewing disconnected fragments of rusty metal abandoned in disgust by the side of the road. Read More »

Misty Mornings in the Lot from French Life

Amanda on December 16th, 2005
Walnut Tart

Walnut Tart

Quercynoise Tarte aux Noix

If you happen to be in the Quercy in late autumn, after the vendage but before the cold weather sets in, this is the recipe you will need. There are many, many versions of Tarte aux Noix, and this is my tried and regularly tested favourite!

The countryside abounds with walnut groves. Wherever you can’t put a vineyard, you can be sure you’ll find walnuts. In late October and November the markets are groaning with them in every conceivable state of preparation.

Of course there are quite a few trees in the wild now and you can always do as the locals do, take a bag and gather a kilo or two yourself. Either way this is a gorgeous way to use them.

Serves 10- 12

Ingredients Read More »

Quercy Walnut Tart Recipe from French Life

Amanda on December 14th, 2005
Carrot and Walnut Cake

Carrot and Walnut Cake

Gâteau Eleanor

This isn’t really a regional recipe, it’s my own.
However there’s a good reason for the name.
The black walnut is ubiquitous in this area and was supposedly introduced to England – and widely planted in the Quercy – by that most adventurous of Queens, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
She was born in this area in 1122 and must rank as one of the most forward thinking ladies of her time, a suffragette eight hundred years before the Pankhursts.

I named this cake in her honour.

Ingredients Read More »

Carrot and Walnut Cake Recipe from French Life