New swimming option! Two former quarries — just 2,5 kilometers or 4 minutes from the house — have been made into one large, turquoise-blue lake that looks like it came out of a travel poster for some exotic destination! I’m delighted to announce that I now have a free pass for my guests to enjoy its sandy beach and to dive into its clear blue water. Opened several years ago by French water ski champion Will Delair, the lake is maintained as a private club, which only recently began accepting non-skiing members — like us. One side of the lake is for the one and only boat and the other for swimming. However, if you’d also like to ski or ride the waves on a wake board behind the lake’s one “fairly quiet” but powerful inboard, you can reserve a tour or two with Will. The club’s restaurant and bar look out over the lake are open every day from 11 to 11.
As grandparents we’re well equiped for babys and little ones. Since the wonderful English guide Sawdays picked up on the fact that families are welcome at La Forge we suddenly have, not only our children and grandchildren on visit, but our guest’s as well. The self catering cottage is perfect for a small family and the house often rented for inter-generational vacations with grandparents, children, teens and babies. Spread the word. As the garden and fields are fenced in everyone had space for the little ones to run around and other to just relax.
Of course all ages love to visit our chickens and try to find the rabbit that hides in the garden.
The menus change with the seasons and the producers are all local…the chef too ! Xavier teaches young adults at a professional lycée for future chefs. Even if you don’t plan to become a professional a class with Xavier is a great way to learn some techniques and recipes you can do at home. It will look and taste like just like those of a pro.
The “moule frites” and music weren’t a 4th of july. special. but it sounded like it with a French group that played US 70’s music to the delight of all the French…who, for the most part didn’t even realize it was the 4th of July. The near by village of Sadirac inaugurated a “Piste Gourmande” with food stands and music along the bike path…next month it will be Creon’s turn with local musicians and yummy food trucks and tents….and the villages put up picnic tables for all.
*”You mean you made everything in this tiny kitchen!”…said one of my American guests as she helped me clear off the table. A small but fully packed kitchen doesn’t hinder us from cooking up some great meals. However, for our cooking classes we head over to our farm (a mile down the road) and use the large renovated kitchen in Bruno’s “Miller’s Cottage”.
**Our talented baker friend, Carlos Alves, who has a wonderful traditional French boulangerie et patisserie (l’Art du Pain) in the town of Saint Gaudens near the Spanish border…after bringing back to life several other old boulangeries in the south of France and creating one in Brazil.
He arrived here at La Forge laden with breads, brioche and “croustades”… needless to say our guests were as delighted as we to have a “bread tasting” for breakfast this morning.
***My pastry marble that always seems to fill up with more than pastry dough and a rolling pin ! The magnetic spice holders were found at a local supermarket.
Bruno and I spent a delightful morning with Bordeaux’s best Boulanger, Jan Demaitre and his wife Niki Vermassen.
After seeing a little note in Helen Wood’s blog http://notjustfortheholidays.blogspot.fr I called the listed number and was ever so surprised to find that I was talking to Jan, Bordeaux first and best organic bread baker. When ever I went into the city I’d stop by his wonderful boulangerie but I’d never met him.
We spent the morning talking about bread: flour, salt, water and a bit of Jan’s 35 year old starter, levain, sometimes called “wild yeast”. After making and kneading our own bread we left with Jans early morning bread hot from the oven and a jar of “levain” that we’re going to continue to look after and feed (it’s sort of like taking home a baby kitten). I’m already looking forward to making english crumpets with the levain as well…that sounds like a good “entente cordial”.
I’m looking forward to add their association, La Femme du Boulanger, to the propositions for my guests. Their idea of sharing a bit of their professional “savoir faire” in the intimacy of their home is exactly what I try to find for you when you visit us in France. Let me know if you would like to sign up. By the way, Jan and Niki both speak very good english.
Look up “La Femme du Boulanger Asso 1901” on Facebook !!
After visiting with Dominique Chaigne to talk about her excellent website http://www.coeurdecampagne.fr (in french) where she helps promote our region of Entre Deux Mers she suggested joining one of the visits she had put together for a group of local french visitors. Between two March showers I joined a friendly and well informed guide, Marie Catherine, to rediscover the banks of the Dordogne river, 10 minutes only from home. A place I know well in the summer as I organise boat trips and walks for my guests there…but rarely walk its banks this time of year. It was interesting to hear someone else talk about places where I usually do the talking…I knew about the Roman roadway that went through Entre Deux Mers but I learned that it’s noted on an ancient Roman road map dating from 300AD called the “Map of Peutinger”, now in the Austrian National Archives that you can see only a bit of in my photo…. but I found the whole long role on Youtube !