Happy New Year to each of you ! Merci to all of you who have followed the activities here at La Forge this past year. I haven’t been very good at keeping you up on what’s been going on…maybe it’s just that we’re too busy with our everyday lives to sit down and record all of those special moments that we’d love to share with you.
For all of those who have been here once or twice of many time we’d love to see you again this year…and for all of those who have only had a taste of What’s Cooking in France please come for a visit and experience it for yourselves !
Still today, even more than a Christmas tree, many French families set up a crèche. More or less elaborate, most often with small ceramic “santons” depicting the usual Mary, Joseph and baby jesus…who is always hidden away and taken out to the delight of the little children on christmas eve. The best part of the traditional “crèche provencale” is that it includes not only shepherds guarding their flocks but all the different tradesmen and characters from life the villages of Provence in the early 1800 when the first “santons” where made in Marseille.
Every year now I take out my collection of antique religious books and use them as the decor to suggest the landscape and grotto for my crèche that grows with added “santons” each year. Over the years our grandchildren gave us a santons representing two grandparents sitting on a little bench and a blacksmith at his forge and a friend gave us a wonderful “paysan” and his wife pulling guiding their horse and a cart of hay….
There are of course the three wise men and their camel that arrive on the 6th of January when everyone share the “galette des rois”: depending on what area you live in, it is either a sugar sprinkeled brioche or an “pate feuilleté” filled with almond paste and pastry cream…and always a small favor hidden inside that proclames the finder ROI or REINE for the day…and that goes on all throughout the month of January.
A wonderful day trip from La Forge or an overnight escapade Michel Guérard’s restaurants, hotels and spa at Eugenie les Bain should be on your schedule while you’re visiting us. His famous “cuisine minceur”…or “slim cuisine” is just as tasty and beautiful as it was when he was the first French chef to really become interested and creative with healthy gourmet fare. He has both a 3 star gastronomical restaurant and a just as wonderful country auberge. We went for the weekend for Bruno’s birthday and tried both restaurants as well as a room at the Couvent des Herbs. Everything is perfection…and can’t say more than that to encourage you to visit yourselves.
St Lucie’s Day…what better way to invite friends and other B&B colleagues to taste my grandmothers swedish cookies and cakes and to show off Janine’s beautiful antique linens. The linens where all shown “in situe”: bed linens in the Chambre Terrasse, bath linens in the Gironde tile bathroom and the table linens in the dining room…of course. It was a good way to share the beginning of my Swedish family’s holiday traditions. Normally all the Christmas baking should be finished by Dec 13th but I think this is the first year that it’s every happened at La Forge ! There was no young St Lucie with a crown of candles on her head as we’d always done in my childhood, but there were lots of candles everywhere and the smell of holiday spices and pine wreaths. Perhaps next year you can plan to be here on December 13th to enjoy this with us.
It might seem strange to see me writing about a French hamburger, but to understand why, you’ll just have to come to Bordeaux to taste one of the specialties at VACHER BURGER (vacher translates as a “cow heard”). When Eloise and I went recently, I had the Marcel (locally raised beef, homemade bar-b-q sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion and pickles) with real “french” fries, homemade mayonnaise and catsup). Eloïse tried the Léon (the same tasty beef — but she ordered hers rare — with a homemade bacon sauce, onion, raw milk cheese and arugula). Both burgers are served on the perfect bun made by the bakery just around the corner.
VACHER BURGER opened two months ago in two Bordeaux locations: 38 cours Portal (near the antique district, near several of my favorite shops — Totems et Tabous and Vert-Tige — and across the street from one of the city’s chic new pastry shops, Antoine) and 15 rue Pilliers de Tutelle in the center of town. VACHER BURGER’s owner and creator is an enthusiastic graphic artist and architect who’s been wanting to open a real “hamburger joint” like this for a long time.
Both Eloïse and I were delighted with the taste of the beef and the bun and with the quality of the homemade sauces — and the atmosphere. We can’t wait to introduce these “real burgers” to our French friends, many of whom only know hamburgers put together under the golden arch. French or American, it’s the taste that counts!
When you come to Bordeaux you’ll have all the good wine and cheese you want — but I’ll also send you to discover the Bordeaux “hamburger joint”.
When I first started my website, I titled a theme week “Biking and Cooking” because a brand-new 85Km bicycle path had just opened from Bordeaux to the heart of Entre Deux Mers. What I didn’t realize was that I had opened my door to the amazing community of motor bikes! However, it was only this past week that they arrived: a delightful American couple who’d been biking though France and Spain for 6 weeks, followed by three young English couples who’d biked over from London for the weekend on their vintage bikes.
Over pancakes and eggs for the English and a traditional French breakfast for the Americans, I heard about their biking adventures. Even though Carol and Art had to bike through Spanish sleet on their way up here, I was a little envious of their ability to pack up everything into three little bags and just take off. What freedom! Fortunately for them, this weekend was perfect for wandering the little backroads….and although I’ve often thought of bikers as fast and crazy drivers, this week’s four couples reminded me that biking can offer quite a different story. Also, the fact that all the women looked very chic in their helmets and biking outfits reminded me that we often have a lot of preconceptions – and misconceptions — about “les motards” !