Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Grace Under Pressure?



Which one of these guys would you expect real help from after a catastrophe? Vote carefully.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Le Marché du Samedi (The Saturday Market)

La Bastide* de Revel

In every season, one of my favorite things about being in this part of southwest France is the Saturday market in the center of Revel.  When I first stayed in Soreze for three days some ten years ago, I was introduced to this market. There I bought supplies to make a meal for the friends I was staying with and fell in love with the ambience of the Revel market.  Whenever I am in Soreze, I look forward to doing the bulk of my grocery shopping at the market each Saturday morning.

*Bastides -"new towns" of the Middle Ages (thirteenth and fourteenth century), located in the southwest of France characterized by a very specific architecture : a central square surrounded by arcades where the streets converge.

I try to make most of my purchase sous la halle (under the market hall, built in 1342) as that is where the local producers and farmers sell their goods. There are a growing number of "Bio" (pronounced bee-oh) farmers who sell here, and bakers, cheese, confiture, wine and sausage makers  who use organically grown flours, milk, fruit, and pork in what they make.

The vendor above on the left, who grows and bakes with organic grain, is one of my first stops for a small apple, pear or fig tart. I've settled on the vendor, above right, that bakes with levain nature for my whole wheat walnut or sesame bread.  You can buy a whole or half loaf, which I find a common sense option for people who are living tout seul (alone), so they can have their fresh bread, too.

There are several good, local chèvre producers that I cycle through, depending on the length of the line, and several hen wives (as Ms Moon might say) who specialize in farm fresh brown eggs for ~2€ ($2.60) a dozen.  The eggs might all look pretty much the same, but I must say I was thrown off balance when my favorite hen wife quit coming to market this year and I had to decide on another one.

In the outer ring, sous les parasols (under the umbrellas), there are many more vendors with big rounds of cheese, barrels of olives and a large selection of fruits and vegetables, some also from this region and some from Spain, Morrocco or even the USA.

There are always seasonal specialties.  This week it was cepes mushrooms from the forests of the Montagne Noir (Black Mountains), the range of wild and unspoiled countryside dotted with lakes and small medieval villages, which lies just above the Lauragais in which we live.

I purchased one of the smaller cepes, though as you can see from its comparison here to the chunk of pumpkin that I bought, this one mushroom was enough to make a bit of sauce (slice mushroom, sauté in butter, add a bit of crème fraîche and white pepper to taste) to go with the rôti de porc that I roasted for Sunday dinner.

Not sure if one enterprising farmer was anticipating a Thanksgiving dinner for local expats, but I sighted a pair of Dindon Royal (Royal Turkey), 40€ (~$50) for "the couple", no doubt a more gamey, less pumped up choice than a Butterball.

When I am through shopping, I ritually join the locals in parking my panier (indispensible rolling shopping bag), having a cup of coffee and eating my little tart at one of the cafes under the gallery that surrounds the market square.

Another satisfying haul from the Saturday market to be enjoyed all week and beyond.

Baisers de l'angle sud-ouest de la France!
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