Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Still Life at Beauvoisin #1

Life is easy when the right ingredients are at hand.

Yesterday, the friends who are hosting us at Beauvoisin left to celebrate a birthday with a brief holiday within a holiday. For the next couple of days Himself and The Moi are par nous-mêmes. At least, I think this is how to say this en francais. My French from forty years ago is beyond rusty. Actually, it is an absolute embarrassment. Big time.

Even so, since our friends had already tuned me up on the art of local shopping, I sauntered off the next morning with no lack of confidence.

Sauntering, I should point out, was the operative verb. No brisk walking required. In fact, any striding of that ilk would be entirely out of place in Beauvoisin. Colleen, who like Himself and The Moi is no slouch in the go-go-go department, describes the slowed down demands of their typical day here: Each day we pick up our food for that evening’s dinner and then spend the night cooking, eating and drinking local wine

The first few days after we arrived, I tagged along with her and Kevin to markets at Nimes, Arles, and Générac, and saw what she meant. After planning the evening menu for that particular day, shopping for food and deliberating over suitable wine pairings – will this particular Gigondas go with tonight’s duck confit, or …? - , and then actually preparing the meal, there was barely enough time to fit in a mid-day nap. Arduous, is all I can say. And that was with three cooks on board who know their way around a cutting board and stove, as well as one dishwasher who mans a mean rag.

For me, one of the allures of staying here, aside from quality time with good friends, is the fact that all essential needs can be met within a five minute stroll. The sausages made by the local butcher are the best I have ever had the joy of cooking, and that is going some. They rank right up there with ones made by my brother Struan. In order to fully appreciate this compliment, what you have to know about Struan’s sausages, is that he grows, hunts or fishes for all his ingredients. These ones from the local charcuterie were that good.

A few buildings past the butcher is the local green grocer. Here, the selection of fruits and vegetables are grouped according to whether they are local, regional, or sourced from further afield. How can you go wrong? All the apricots are local. They are the same ones that I had already seen hanging off the branches in local orchards, and trust me: they are gobsmackingly full of flavour. The only downside is that they need to be eaten over something that can catch errant juices – a plate, a sink, the cobbled courtyard. Not your white slacks.

For our evening meal, using the ingredients shown above, I didn’t do anything complicated. I simply tossed together a ratatouille adding fresh basil, garlic, onion and a splash of rosé. While it was cooking down, I boiled the spuds, fried the sausages, and then deglazed the pan with some of the ratatouille juices, and then poured that over the entire assemblage.

One more thing. Normally, I would salt the water for spuds, but this time I didn’t even bother and none was needed. For me, not even butter was required, although on that score, Himself and The Moi would beg to differ.

So, there we were. Add to this a couple of glasses of Cahors Carte Noir 2009 (bought for a song), and a few fistfuls of baguette to mop up the plate, and there we were. Heaven. Total heaven.


  1. Wonderful article in your blog! Carolyn

  2. Brown, as usual you make me hungry. Toujours bon appétit!