29 October 2009

A Day in the Life

A brief glimpse into our life...one day at a time:

Every morning, we all eat breakfast together.  The spread includes a fresh fruit salad, yogurt, cereal, homemade bread with jam, and coffee and tea.  

After breakfast, if the stock is low, we make another batch of bread.  We're still working on our recipe -- to the right are the makings of a recent version.  It tastes great but isn't rising like we'd hope...suggestions from bread makers out there?

After breakfast, it's time for work:

We are currently taking on a big project in the kitchen -- stripping, sanding, priming, and painting all the cabinetry.  

And yes, it is still perfect weather in the south of France so for a change of scenery, sometimes we take the work onto the patio to soak up the rays while we still can.   (Helen, do you like our pants?)

After all that back breaking labor, it's time for lunch!  The past few days, it has been warm enough to eat out on the terrace.  Nothing like a nice glass of white wine to cleanse the palate from a morning of paint fumes.  

After we are done working for the day, we usually head out for a little adventuring.  Biking along the Canal du Midi has been particularly spectacular recently.  We are always in good company along the canal with boaters, fishermen, and ducks (and the occasional donkey) enjoying the good life along with us.  

We usually share kitchen duties in the house, so every few days, we cook dinner.  The other night, we wanted to prepare something that would both impress our hosts and be a fun challenge.  We looked to Julia Child and settled on Coq au Vin.

Erika fearlessly volunteered to take on the job of dealing with the whole chicken that we found in the fridge.  After a quick you-tube butchering tutorial (quite unnecessary, acutally!), she broke down that bird into pieces and we made a delicious meal.

Nights in Ventenac always seem to sneak up on us, but when they arrive, they are absolutely stunning.  

27 October 2009

Wine of the Night

Our first wine recommendation is Le Zaparel.  We were lucky enough to be able to taste it thanks to a new friend and dinner guest for the evening ("salut!" if you are reading) He brought this beautiful red wine from an organic winery called Domaine Saint Julien in the Minervois. The label states that it is a wine "for your pleasure and well-being" and we whole-heartedly agree -- it was definitely made with love and full of character. 

The bottles we had tonight (yes, plural) were from 2001. The wine had a subtle (but not too subtle), full-bodied, slightly cherry flavor. 

We don't know if these people are exporting their wine yet but we hope to visit them later in the week to see for ourselves.

Erika says this is the very best red wine she has ever tasted and Hannah isn't sure she can disagree!  We have definitely set the bar high for our wine reviews...

Rating: 9 out of 10!

Fromage du Jour

Bienvenue to our new series of cheese recommendations (soon to be followed by a similar post on wine!).  

First up is Petit Saint-Paulin.  

This cheese is soft and buttery (but firm enough for slicing into) with a smooth, mild flavor.  It is perfect alongside a light wine after a meal.  It always has a thin rind -- slightly darker than the cheese itself.  Authentically produced St. Paulin has an edible shell but beware of imitator St. Paulins with a plastic, inedible rind...sacre bleu!

Saint-Paulin was originally made by Trappist monks in Brittany.  The one we tried comes from a little town called Craon.   

Erika and Hannah rate this cheese:

7.25 out of 10!

25 October 2009

Minerve M'enerve!

Saturdays and Sundays are our "days off."  Yesterday, we decided to go on a grand adventure to the little village of Minerve, voted one of the twenty prettiest villages in France (l'un des plus belles villages en France").  David warned us that the trip to Minerve was a little bit of an uphill struggle..."but only slightly uphill."  Sundara just remarked that it was "a wee bonny town."  So how could we resist?

The ride to and from Minerve was actually breathtaking.  This is the perfect time to be in the Minervois region.  Most days, are crystal clear with blue skies and dramatically contrasting greens, reds, and oranges in the landscape. 

The ride was definitely an uphill struggle...we were cursing the idea of ever trying to go to Minerve...how much better than Ventenac can it really be????  And then we pedaled  around the last hill and saw the little place.  Definitely one of the twenty loveliest villages in France!

Minerve is an incredibly old village -- originally inhabited by Cathars -- built into a secluded valley.  The dramatic rocky surroundings almost camouflage the village itself because all the buildings are constructed into the rock, out of the rock.  

Minerve is also nestled between several "sweet sweet" vineyards.  We tried the grapes and they are super bon.  

The southern gate.  Much of the old ramparts protecting the town still exist, this bit is from the 13th century.  

No medieval village is complete without a reconstructed catapult for sieges and the like!

Happy Fall from wine country!