Wednesday, March 14, 2007
We had lunch today with about 75 other older persons. (don't like to say old folks or admit that I'm 69 & getting somewhat old myself) This is part of the Troisieme Age group which is very active and arranges various outings.
Lunch was held in the Salle de Fetes at Castenet which has a large meeting room and a commercial level kitchen. We sat at three long tables of roughly 25 people each. We started off with an aperitif, a kir, and greeting old friends and being introduced to new ones.
NOTE: Bread & red wine were on the table and were replenished as needed.
The first course was 'Soupe de Campagne', country soup with vegetables, white beans & ham chunks. Very tasty and served with sourdough bread.
Next came the 'foie gras' on toast. This is duck country so the portions were generous. Being foie gras we had a nice sweet wine from Gaillac to go with it. I still haven't quite got the hang of preparing foie gras, but I'm getting better. We can buy whole foies locally for about $15.00 per pound all you have to do is devein it & cook it.
THE special dish was the 'Estofinado'! This is a local Averyronaise speciality made from dried salted morue (cod). The fish is repeatedly soaked in water to rehydrate it, then combined with mashed potatoes, herbs and hard boiled eggs.
It is traditional to pour some walnut oil over the Estofinado. This also being walnut country our local table companions were quick to make sure that we not only poured the oil over, but tried the two different kinds of walnut oil on offer. Turns out that the man across the table still presses his own oil. I learned that it takes 3 kilos of nut to get one kilo of nut meat and that one kilo of nut meat makes a small (250 CC) bottle of oil. This adds to what I learned earlier about walnut oil. (see previous post) Here is a link that gives you more information and a recipe; http://www.aveyron.com/gastro/estofina.html. Only available in French, but there are some other local recipes on the site as well. The dish is delicious and I had seconds; would of had more, but knew there was much more to come.
The plat was magret (duck breast) with a mushroom (cepes) sauce. Beautifully done and the sauces was great. Plentiful, again we were offered seconds.
Next came the cheese. A small selection, brie, cantal & Roquefort. Being a cheese addict I had a small piece of each.
Dessert was 'poirier' which sort of like a pear clafouti. Nice & moist. With the dessert came the liqueurs. Several varieties, but featuring a selection of home made Eau de Vies. Having been bitten in the past from these potent drinks I abstained.
Having eaten our fill we began to be entertained by songs, jokes & poetry from group members. The microphone was passed to whomever wanted to have a go. There were some good singer in the group and a lot of joining in on the choruses.Our problem was that much of this was in Occitan with the local accent. Impossible from us to understand; the local French is hard enough.
We had a great time including a good discussion about how bad George Bush is and a disagreement as to whether Sarco or Segouline would make a better President.
Such is life in rural France. Vive La France; I say!!