As a last little morsel from Provence, check out Francis Aubert deftly trimming and making beautiful french cut lamb chops – exposing the bone just a bit but without discarding any meat.
During our European adventure, all meals, snacks and everything in between involved milk, butter, cream, cheese – oh and espresso and chocolate! Kathy struggled to stay within her limit of five café crèmes (espresso with milk) a day. Over indulgence was an understatement, but well worth every unadulterated fat calorie consumed!
Lolo (mon petit ami – trying to learn French) says what he misses most about Europe is the dairy, and I understand why. While in Toulouse, he took me to a Carrefour, an international hypermarket chain, second to Walmart. There it was in full sight – two 20 feet long aisles of sheer heaven: crèmes, puddings, and yogurts. And this didn’t include any of the cheeses!
Upon our return from Europe, Lolo and I yearned for some European dairy – yogurt in particular. The fresh taste from the tart and tang keeps you wanting more. We knew yogurt experimentation was top on our list.
Why was the yogurt so different? One, the pasteurization process in Europe vs. the U.S. differs, which results in a different product entirely in taste, consistency, texture. And two, yogurt is just way sweet… fructose, sucrose, glucose.
On my weekly pilgrimage to one of three local farmers markets, I found organic raw unpasteurized milk. Need I say more? I left the stand with a quart of raw whole milk in hand as thoughts of incubation danced in my head.
As soon as I got home, I did some research on yogurt making and referenced my new yogurt book that I picked up while in Toulouse. It looked easy enough: Heat then cool milk, followed by adding a starter. Best part of the equation, we control what goes in and what doesn’t.
The New York Times today has an article about yogurt: what is it; its health benefits; how it’s made; how to use.
Let’s give it a shot!
Sterilize all utensils and cooking equipment in boiling water. Heat milk in a double boiler to *160ºF, allows for better control of heat - I tried to be healthier, milk ratio used - 75% whole and 25% skimmed. If heating pot directly over stove, monitor closely, stir frequently, milk can easily scorch.
Once temperature of 160ºF is reached, remove from heat. Cool milk to 110ºF, add starter and stir well. Immediately fill glass jars with yogurt mixture. Place in yogurt maker for 8-10 hours. Most importantly, do NOT move the yogurt maker, or else it will not set properly. The longer the yogurt cultures, the more tart it becomes.
Remove yogurt and place immediately in refrigerator to chill and set. Once thoroughly chilled, you have a heathy and nutritious treat anytime of the day. Enjoy~
Fruits are always a staple at home, I added a small bit to each individual jar to jazz up to make for a real treat. The options are endless.
I quickly sautéed each with a bit of sugar to breakdown and soften fruit. Added to bottom of jar before spooning in yogurt.
*Notes: Most reads on making raw milk yogurt recommends to not heat milk above 110ºF. I was a bit wary and decided to heat the milk to 160ºF for 20s.
Restaurant La Bartavelle, Goult - We were fortunate enough to get a last minute table (i.e. one week in advance) at this Goult charmer. The small restaurant located down a narrow alley street seats only 25 people, with one service a night. They sat our party of six in an almost private dining area towards the front that had the feel of a rustic home – complete with antique Michelin guides, coffee table cookbooks, and a shuttered door opening to potted plants and the outside street. A decently priced 41 euro prix fix provided reinvented classic French cuisine done simply, perfect, and beautifully.
Markets - Outdoor markets are plentiful and rotate locations each and every day between the surrounding villages. The most coveted item we discovered was a reduced wine infused with truffles, délice de vin barolo a la truffe, from a stand Les Aromes Mediterraneens, selling various tapenades, reductions, and oil. The reduction accompanied salads, meats, and soft cheeses perfectly, the wine still strong but not overpowering and earthy truffles balancing the flavor. We tried looking for the item again, last minute, in a few of the gourmet shops but could only find reduced balsamic with truffles – just not the same.
Roussillon - The grand red cliffs and ocre quarries are worth the see, despite the tourist crowd. Shoes and feet will for sure be stained yellow for the rest of the day, but the vivid shades of yellow, red and brown, in contrast with an immaculate blue Provence sky, seem ethereal.
After leaving Provence, we went to Toulouse to catch our return flight. Proximity of the airport to the city center, however, provided time for some last minute indulgent shopping. Immediately we were drawn into a gourmet cook and kitchenware shop where my husband slyly slipped two items – made in France Opinel No. 112 paring knives – into the pile of wares we took to the front register.
Being the more conservative one-knife-for-all type (hooray for the cleaver), I was a bit skeptical of adding yet another knife to the collection. Finally using the Opinel knife, however, I found myself reaching for it more often than not. It’s convenient. The 4″ sharp stainless steel blade works like a champ for paring and peeling, as well as easy trimming. The sturdy wooden handle gives the knife a nice, clean yet rustic aesthetic – and doesn’t wear or fade with washing. The knives were priced at just under a very affordable 9 euros in France.
As an added note, a few days ago Saveur featured the Opinel Table Knives Set as it’s One Good Find. So darn cute, if a set of knives could be described as such. It’s on the list for the next trip to France….
The idea of Provence conjures up either the image of an idyllic lost in lavender fields oasis possessing overwhelming rustic beauty, or an unfortunate ravaged tourist spot packed with goads of aimless camera hounds crowding its narrow antique streets.
Fortunately, we experienced more of the former and less of the latter during our stay in the hilltop village of Goult. The middle of September proved to be an ideal time to visit Provence, as tourists were starting to fade, or at least take the shape of the more mature, slowed and retired crowd.
Goult had all the makings of a quaint, picturesque, yet still working class village. Yes, the cafes and outdoor restaurant seating were generally full, and the beer loving crowd descended upon Cafe de la Poste like lazy gulls each evening that the cafe opened (we learned that opening days and times in France are never regular).
But the bakery, with its baskets of fresh bready goodness and rows of flakey buttery pastries, opened early in the mornings (though on odd days) at times a hung-over crowd would have never made. The lovely bakery owner greeted long-time customers by name and only gave a quiet smirk when we asked for the “champagne” loaf (campagne or country bread).
Luckily, our French native on hand, Lolo, quickly cleared up how to properly order meat at the boucherie – by choosing from the posted list and then, for us less educated, kindly asking the butcher to point to the cut on the cow map. Voila! Meat fetched from the refrigerated locker behind, to be cut on the spot in front.
And even though we never found the candlestick maker (or never looked, really), Provence’s subtle and hidden charm more than sufficed to make for a simply perfect stay.