Friday, March 27, 2009

L'or Noir

If you ever find yourself in Aubenas, you have to go to my favorite tea house, L'or Noir (black gold). It has the strategic location of being directly across the church & is excellent for people watching.

The tea house also serves as a shop - full of every conceivable tea & coffee accessories & knick knacks that you can imagine. It is a treasure trove & I can spend hours browsing.

L'or Noir

1 rue 4 Septembre

07200 Aubenas

04 75 93 38 05

The newly renovated Le Fournil

One of Aubena's gastronomic restaurant, Le Fournil re-opened in February after undergoing major renovations. So when I was deciding where to go for lunch, X suggested I go check it out.

I could barely recognise the place. Like La Villa Tartary, there seem to be a trend for restaurants here to go for modern contemporary deco which in my opinion, a little incongruous in a rural country setting. Having said that, it is a nice change from the family style restaurants & makes me feel like I'm back in the city again.

Upon arrival, we were led to a dimly lit dining room ......

but we opted for a table in the bright courtyard instead.
It might not have made a difference at night &
since it was a nice day, seems a shame to sit in the dark, don't you think ?

This was an apple mousse offered with our pre meal drinks
a rather unusual choice for apero

The delicious amuse bouche
potato & mushroom puree

I forgot to take a picture of my starter which wasn't spectacular, just a chicken liver salad.
But here's my main dish, salmon over a bed of herbed boiled potatoes

Dessert was trio of ice cream - pear, earl grey (that had us raving & even asking the chef for the recipe which he kindly wrote down for us) & so because of that, I don't remember what was the third flavour

Are you one of those that judge a restaurant by their bathrooms ?
Well I am

Overall, the food was good but not very original. It could be because we had the "boring" lunch menu. The menu goes up to 80 euros (which is rather steep for here) & I'm sure with that menu, you'll find a lot more interesting options.

However the service was excellent. Our server, a native Ardechoise spoke excellent English, having been around the world & back.

Do you think I'll have time to go back again before I leave this Sunday ?

Le Fournil
34 rue du 4 Septembre
07200 Aubenas
04 75 93 58 68

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Unwanted visitors

Yikes ! I just vacuumed the first scorpion this year. Time to check our shoes before putting them on.

If you remember this entry, well since then, I haven't made much progress in terms of getting rid of unwanted visitors. My weapon of choice is still the good old trusty vacuum cleaner.

Hmmm I wonder if there are any scorpions in Singapore ?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Farewell drinks

We had a little gathering last Friday for neighbours & friends. Farewell drinks. We were originally due to leave on Sunday but as luck would have it, The Girl came down with chicken pox so we had to push our departure date back a week.

Here's a peek at what we served our guests :

Frittata with spinach & mushrooms
Cake with chorizo, pistachio & sundried tomatoes

Soba noodles

Prawns in olive oil & sprinkled with Japanese seasoning

Smoked Salmon

Wonton Cups
(a lot more successful than my last attempt)

Strawberry Punch

Friday, March 20, 2009

You know you are living in the countryside

St Michel de Boulogne

You know you are living in the countryside when

1. Getting rid of the rubbish means starting a bonfire
Other than in the summer when there are regulations against starting a fire outdoors, everybody pretty much dump their rubbish in a pile at the back of their garden & burn them. I've lost count the number of times we've done this

2. Your car is never very clean
Aside from the fact that we have a toddler, no matter how often we clean the car, it will NEVER look clean. Dirt & dust from the countryside or worse still, mud splatters esp after the rain - urgh. This is in contrast to Singapore where all the cars look like they just rolled out of the showroom. My brother lives across a service station & even at midnight, there were cars waiting to get a car wash.

3. You order your pregnancy kit online if you don't want everyone to know about it
No, I'm not pregnant. That was when I was pregnant with The Girl. I couldn't go to the local pharmacy because the sister of a friend of the family works there & also not to local pharmacy #2 in case I run into my MIL. It's difficult trying to keep a low profile here cos everybody knows everybody. Which brings me to the next point.

4. Complete strangers come up to you asking about your private life
The countryside grapevine is very powerful. No sooner have you bought a new house, diagnosed with a disease, filed for divorce or changed new curtains, somebody is bound to ask you about it & it may not necessarily even be somebody you know.

5. Instead of paying attention to pedestrians, you have to watch out for animals
It's not uncommon to see herds of sheep & goats but it's driving at night that you need to be careful. I've seen families of wild boars by the side of the road & just last week, I came across a deer - first sighting in the 5 years I've been here. I would be mortified if I ran over one, not to say what damage it's going to do to the car.

6. You're terrified of driving in the city
I don't blink an eye driving on narrow windy country roads but ask me to drive in the city & I'm terrified. The number of cars frighten me. I can drive for miles here without crossing a handful of cars.

7. The people living in your commune fills up less than 1 page of the yellow pages
& the number of households in our village, 15 (that includes those that are only here for the summer)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A home cooked German meal

It's that time of the year when we hose down our outdoor tables (lotus, I'm thinking of you) & chairs & prepare for eating in the garden, terrace, backyard or just simply anywhere in the sun.

We were invited to chez Gaby once again but this time, to sample some German cooking. Something I was really looking forward to.

For snacks,
Little hot dogs dipped in a lovely sweet German mustard
I need to find the name of that mustard

I love eating outdoors

These are German dumplings called klosse
There are many versions the most common are with potatoes
but these are made with bread, a specialty of Bavaria

They may not look particularly appetising cos they are boiled
but they go really well with meat

Danke schön, Gaby

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Beginnings

My blog turned 1 & I posted my 300th entry.

My first post was about spring so a year later, I'm doing the same. There are so many things I love about spring.

When the first asparagus & strawberries start to appear

When wild flowers start to pop up everywhere

Of course, the biggest sign of spring is when my allergies kick in. I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm allergic to most of the vegetation around here. As long as I don't forget to take my meds, for the most parts, I'm fine.

Another big thing for us & another reason why posting has been sparse is because we are preparing to move back to Singapore. After 18 years of being away, I'm finally going back.

I'm going to miss this place that I've come to love & enjoy living. I know my city friends will be surprised to hear this but country living agrees with me. Actually if you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know what I mean. But X's family is here. We will still keep our house & intend to visit every summer.

Moving to Singapore will prove to be very challenging on many levels - I'll be returning to work, The Girl has to adjust to new environment, school & being looked after by a nanny & X will have a career change.

But it's spring & new beginnings are always exciting.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Aglio Olio with Seafood

I'm sure you all know my soft spot for seafood pasta.

All thanks to a fellow anchovy lover Sri, this has become my latest favorite pasta to make. So easy to throw together & so delicious. Seafood, around here, doesn't come cheap but when there is a promo ie. sales & even then, only on very selected items, I'll stock up.

I'll never be a meat & potatoes kind of girl, seafood is more my thing.

Aglio Olio with Seafood

3-4 Tbsp olive oil
6 anchovy fillets (more if you like them), diced
red pepper flakes or cut chillies
5 cloves of garlic, diced
choice of seafood, cooked & then marinate with lemon juice, olive oil & coarse salt

1. Heat olive oil in pan. Then add anchovies, chillies & garlic. Fry till anchovies are disintegrated

2. Next add in the seafood & mix well

3. Toss in the noddles & mix well

4. Sprinkle the parsley before serving

Monday, March 9, 2009

Caipirinhas & the party is on

This edition of my series on drinks, is brought to you courtesy of Gaby who lugged back several bottles of cachaça (sugar cane rum) from her last trip to Germany. If you've not heard of it, caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil. It's available everywhere & you can even have them made right on the beach.

It's what a summer drink is all about - refreshing & delicious. Well even though we're huddling in our turtle necks & sweaters, there's no reason not to enjoy a caiprinha or 2 or 3.

This is how Gaby make her yummy caipirinhas

1. First start by cutting up one whole lime into small pieces & put that into a glass

2. Add 1 Tbsp of sugar
3. Using a muddler, crush the limes till you get all the juice out
4. Next filled the glass with crushed ice (ice cube is not going to cut it, it has to be crushed ice. In fact she owns an ice crusher - they must be drinking a lot of caipirinhas, well I'm just saying)
5. Then pour in the cachaça till it fills the glass

6. Stir well mixing the lime juice with the cachaça

7. Serve & enjoy

That's Loïc using a muddler to crush the limes

That's Gaby very generously filling the glasses up with cachaça

Top it with a very festive straw
& you have it, caiprinha

Gaby also prepared nachos, guacamole & salsa
I brought bolinhos de bacalhau, of course

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Market Day

Saturday morning is market day at Aubenas. Folks from all around flock there to do their groceries. In the summer, with the onslaught of the tourists, you need to be there really early else it's impossible to find parking & shopping is no fun cos you end up jostling with the crowd.

I love going to the markets esp fresh food markets & in France, it is always a delight. There are of course stalls selling clothes, knick knacks, toys, shoes etc but what I love is the selection of fresh produce from the local farmers. So during the off season, whenever I have time, I like to just go & browse.

Even though it's a market, everything is generally well presented. (Moo I need to get your this cow print table cloth)

I love these dried sausages
Remove the skin, slice them & eat them for apero
Here's a selection of sausages
with duck, wild boar, mushrooms or black pepper

What's a market without flowers
I almost never leave with buying a bouquet home

My favorites are the ones stuffed with anchovies
but sadly there weren't any

They smell so good
Everytime I'm there, I tell myself one of these days
I have to buy one