Dear Tom, it’s better to shop in France…

I’ve never enjoyed shopping. For clothes, that is. My girls love to shop. I don’t know if you have Anthropology stores in England but all my worst shopping experiences involve following my daughters into what I refer to as the black hole of Anthropology.

Once you get sucked in, you never come out… Hell on parents.

But France is different. Here the girls completely immersed themselves in food markets. I was all for that! Markets markets everywhere! We stopped at one supermarche, but only because we needed a few staples. Otherwise we farmer’s market hopped – Libourne (twice), Perigeuex, Domme, Sarlat (twice), La Roque Gageac.

On Sunday my other daughter and her husband joined us at Chateau St. Jacques Calon. (Their rental car was also unavailable but they were upgraded to a BMW – automatic – with a sweet Nav system!) Thanks to Stephane, we were prepared. We’d shopped at the market in Liborne that morning – buying the most delicious breads, cheeses, fresh fruits and pastries we could find. We already had wine, of course!

We served them a wonderful welcome lunch on the terrace.

But I’ve forgotten to mention the breakfasts at Chateau St. Jacques Calon. Every morning Stephane prepared breakfast for us, served us on the terrace alongside the pool. Of course the weather was perfection! Since we’ve returned from France, Oscar has insisted upon coffee, orange juice, fresh bread, croissants, my homemade jam, cheeses and thin sliced meats for breakfast. He loved our French breakfasts! He’s decided this is the way a real person eats breakfast. I could not agree more.

On our last full day at My French Heaven Stephane planned a foodie day with us. This meant a fun second trip with the entire group to the wonderful market in Liborne where we bought everything needed for the most incredible meal.

Here’s a video of the market in Libourne:

I wish I could quit saying heaven but it really was heaven. Stephane welcomed us into his home in Libourne where he served breads and cheeses, nuts, fruits, olives, and treated us to a delicious roast chicken lunch. Wow, just wow. Again I’m an idiot and I have no photos. It was the best day, an amazing day!

We also toured the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey. You’ve already seen one photo of our entire group. Here is one of Stephane- although he warned me not to take photos of him.

Entering the ruins of the abbey.

Entering the ruins of the abbey.

My daughter and son-in-law inspecting the ruins.

My daughter and son-in-law inspecting the ruins.

I’ve tried to reproduce his version of roast chicken. I almost have it. But there was something magical in his, some essence of French Heaven I’m lacking. But Stephane would be proud of me. He explained how to pick out the right chicken at the market– what makes a good chicken. I didn’t think I’d be able to duplicate such a fresh chicken but then I found a local producer here in Napa. Amazing! And her chickens were only a dollar more than the plain old industry chickens. No, I did not have to cut off their heads or pluck them. They were already wrapped up and ready to cook.

Stephane also taught us how to choose vendors, what to look for when buying eggs, fruit, cheeses, breads, foie gras… Where we could find the best pastries. Yum! We kept his advice in mind everywhere we went. We did a lot of cooking. Well, I did a lot of cooking. Everyone else did a lot of shopping and eating.

Boy, did we eat a whole lot of foie gras – something I’ve never ever before been willing to eat. I loved the foie gras. In France foie gras tastes nothing like chopped liver. Here it’s too liver-ish for my taste. Plus, (like Beau Plus Villages), in the Dorgogne region the geese are free range geese- they graze on grass, corn, walnuts and other rich stuff. No force-feeding there!

My favorite foie gras, purchased in the village of Domme.

My favorite foie gras, purchased in the village of Domme.

My other daughter on the walls of Domme, overlooking the Dordogne Valley.

My other daughter on the walls of Domme, overlooking the Dordogne Valley.

Oh! And I fell in love with comte cheese. Can’t find it here. Dang! At least not the real thing!

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10 thoughts on “Dear Tom, it’s better to shop in France…

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    And the last I actually checked (may not still be true) the States refused to let in real Camembert and Brie because the milk used to make them was not pasteurized. FRENCH Brie and Camembert are incredible. The stuff made with pasteurized milk here, not as good.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Oh, I know, Alicia! I’ve been trying to find real Brie and Camembert but I cannot. One can find raw extremely aged cheese here, but neither of the above.

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  2. fangswandsfairy(alt)

    Bourdain did a show once where a French guy who opened a gourmet Fried Chix restaurant in LA went back to cook in the restaurant where he started out. He pointed out the fundamental differences with French chickens and US Chickens (not so much breast). I think it was Tony in Burgundy? Made us really hungry!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. juliabarrett Post author

      They are not big on breast meat in France, Steph. And a real chicken is actually pretty dark. I mean the meat is darker than what we expect here. Yeah… hungry!

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