Tag Archives: french food

Culinary Vacations in France – The Open Market

Our weekly Wednesday market is a foodies dream come true! The 2nd largest in our region, with 180 vendors displaying products from near and afar.

Most notable is the abundance of local products, from fruits and vegetables grown right next door to displays of cheeses, charcuteries and the freshest seafood you can get. They arrive straight from the seaside early in the morning and the fish are all clear eyed with bright red gills. Piles of fresh perrywinkles, whelks, muscles and venus clams are all lined up next to the live (still jumping) shrimps.

Christine comes straight from Guérande with her beautiful selection of rock salt, fine salt, fleur de sel and other spices including fresh vanilla pods and salicorne.

You can also find beautiful baskets, kitchen utensils, live chickens and ducks, antique knick knacks, and all sorts of other goods.

The longest line is at the horse meat vendor, but I never go there. Not that I don’t have time to wait but although I am very open minded and sometimes I could eat a cow, I will never eat a horse!

Of course, I have selected my favorite vendors and have become pretty efficient in finding and choosing what I need for the days-weeks cooking.  I usually go with menus sketched out in my head, but with a very open mind and let my inspiration go with all the exciting food to be found.

And then there’s the Sunday market, smaller and in a pretty little square in front of the town theater. The main attraction is the fresh oysters and clams but there is always the usual abundance of produce, poultry, dairy products and flowers… all local!

It’s so fun when I get back to my kitchen and spread out all the ingredients on the table and start preparing delicious dishes, old and new!

Roasted-Marinated Bell Peppers

Roasted-Marinated Red Bell Peppers

Roasted-Marinated Red Bell Peppers

Ingredients

Red bell peppers

Salt

(I use Fleur de Sel but regular salt is fine)

Garlic cloves

Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven broiler to 400F and arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven.
  2. Put a sheet of foil in the bottom as the liquid from the peppers will drop down.
  3. When oven is hot place the peppers directly on the rack and roast, turning once so they blacken a bit on both sides, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, place in a plastic bag and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  5. Peel the skins off and slice open to get out all the seeds, liquid and cut out the membranes.
  6. Then cut in strips lengthwise about 1/3 “ wide.
  7. Place strips neatly in a rectangular or square shaped container layer by layer.
  8. Sprinkle each layer with salt, garlic and cover with olive oil.
  9. Refrigerate.
  10. I suggest you prepare a day or more in advance and you can keep this well refrigerated for at least a week.
https://www.lavieduchateau.com/roasted-marinated-bell-peppers/

Grey Shrimps of the Opal Coast

Grey shrimps are fished on the beaches of the Opal Coast, along the northern Atlantic coast of France.

They are fished as the tide goes out with a special net called “haveneau”.

When we buy these beautiful blue-grey crustaceans at the open market they are still jumping lively in their baskets.

But once cooked, their color changes dramatically to an often vibrant pinkish-orange color.

Here’s why…

‘The outer shell is made of a protein, crustacynin (like all the other crustaceans), which holds in a tight embrace the underlying pigment called astaxanthin.

Because these proteins are not heat stable, they unravel in boiling water. Releasing and voila! allowing the astaxianthin’s true red color shine through.

Guérande Salt

On the southernmost part of Brittany, in a region dotted with celtic stones, and covered with heather, lays a flat land rich in clay along the Atlantic Ocean…Guérande, an immense labyrinth of salt beds.

Salt harvesting began in the region as early as the Neolithic, but it was in the Gallo-Roman era that the extraction by evaporation method was developed.

In the 9th Century, the monks ran the salt production and created the clay salt beds exactly as they are today.

Irrigated at each high tide, in the innermost parts, the water evaporates and the salt crystals are harvested daily from June to mid-September.

During the intense evaporation in the afternoon, fine crystals form on the surface, very white and pure, with a delicate perfume of violette, this is the “Fleur de sel” (flower of salt)

Symbol of french gastronomy, Guérande salt, and especially the Fleur de sel, graces the best tables in the world.

We are lucky to have my friend Christine that makes the weekly trip to our local market, selling her nice little bags of Fleur de sel, and very large bags of corse salt that I use for the delicious Salt Crusted Sea Bass, one of the recipes taught on my french cookery courses.