“Cherry Times” a June Tale and a Goat’s Cheese Soufflé recipe

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Goat’s Cheese Soufflé with cherries

I don’t know what it is about June, forget about July and I may as well scrap August altogether, taking the risk of being quite unpopular with people around me, I must say that I don’t deal with summer – or whatever they call it here- very well. The idea of contemplating these three long months, feels like bracing myself for a quiet and deadly storm, “Waiting around to die” from Townes Van Zandt keep on a ringing when I should be happy, when I should be whistling to the dog and the cats in the kitchen ” Le temps des cerises”, Cherry Times… Cheery times! Now I get to think about it, it’s a beautiful, seasonal and yet a pretty heart wrenching song too. I mustn’t have been the only one so, the summer takes as much as it gives I guess, and June gives so generously!

– “Come on Captain sail on that ship of yours through them dark troubled waters, you hear?”

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“One more payment and it’s mine” Summery Brittany

But you see, I wasn’t always like that. June meant the end of school, the truce between students and teachers, we had two long months of swimming in the warm waters of the Golfe, just five minutes away or I could spend it in the old salt marshes, Birdwatching, inspecting old wrecks or just listening to the nightingale singing from the brambles. We stopped going on holidays when I was 9 years old; the reason? The early 80’s weren’t the best time to have built a house, interest rates were quite high, 12% I think. Even if we weren’t short of anything, we had clothes on and there was always food. The budget was tight though but we lived in a pretty place and if we needed to have a little break, there was always my Grand Mother in the West, Fouesnant, where my heart was anchored… Somewhere in the bay of Concarneau.

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The “Closed City” of Concarneau…

When we were respectively 17 and 16, I invited my friend Sergio to spend a few days out West, my Gran, Marie, was always very welcoming and good to me. My Dad dropped us, with a very clear piece of advice:

– ” be good to your Grandmother, don’t fuck it up and enjoy yourselves, ok?”

– ” yes, don’t worry, we’re grown ups now” I said while looking at Sergio and suddenly regretting my statement. Maybe I was being too harsh.

The memories I have from those few days will stay with me forever, nothing special happened, it was just simple and wonderful, we behaved fairly well and had a great time, the sea and the marshes of Mousterlin were just a few minutes down the road, we even went to the Glenan Islands, on St Nicolas for the day, aboard the “Little Egret”, a 40 minute crossing from Beg Meil, the pier where I had many times jumped from, where I had learned how to swim… The water was always so clear there, emerald green, a bit like Sergio’s complexion as we were halfway through our mini but rocky cruise, magically followed by Storm Petrels dipping their webbed feet in the ocean…

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Beg Meil

Sergio pointed out, that the recurring aspect of this little holiday were the cherries. There was a huge Cherry tree by the Veranda, among the pink and blue Hydrangeas Marie was so proud of; it gave so profusely this time of year, we ate so much of them that our bellies were a bit sore… Sergio was right, we had plenty of cherries, plus the fun involved by climbing up the tree to get our loot made things even more exciting!

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Cherries “chéries”
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Hydrangeas of Fouesnant

But that wasn’t all, we also had Cheery jam for breakfast…

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Cherry Jam, lovely with cheese!

For dessert we had Cherry tart…

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Cherry Tart

-” you forgot something Sergio!” I said to him with a smirk while we were docking back to Beg Meil’s pier.

– “we didn’t have a Cherry Beer yet!” he said reading my mind.

We loved “Cherry” beers, or the “Kriek” as we called it, or rather as it was called, ultimately meaning “Cherry”; we had moved on from “Monacos” (lager, grenadine and lemonade), Shandies and we were now on the “Kriek” buzz, less sweet but delicious, leaving the parched drinker with a wonderful taste of macerated red fruits on the palate.

“- I know a place! I used to go with my Pépé Roger” I said a bit excited.

We came back by Mousterlin’s strand, admiring the Turnstones and Sanderlings before going through the marshes for extra drama. I knew a birdwatching hide, well hidden and we watched a Kingfisher busy diving while drinking a bottle of “Chouchen”, a legendary Breton mead made of fermented honey and water, this stuff is made of dreams and long forgotten legends…

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Turnstone in Mousterlin
Choice 18
Sanderlings, Turnstones, Dunlins and Gulls

A little tipsy and giggling, we made our way to the watering hole my Grand Dad loved so much, it was like being in someone’s kitchen. We ordered our beers and Sergio was in a sailor buzz, so he ordered a “Ricard” for himself. The young lady came back with a jug of water and just said:

“- Ah! He already drank it” with a smile across the face.

Two lads on a nearby table who were well on their way, asked us where we were from, and Sergio went on a yarn, explaining that we were sailors, we were just on a few hours “perm” before sailing back to somewhere, possibly very far away, he was being very mythical, and I must say, it suited the place. He also impressed me with his impro as I was normally the one coming up with crazy stories… One lad who seemed to have one eye closed and who clearly was a sailor or rather a fisherman asked Sergio in a lightly tired but friendly slur:

“- and what is the name of your ship?”

“- it’s the Sirius” Sergio said, knowing how much he liked Tintin and the treasure of Red Rackham, I thought that we were done for. The young fisherman with his eye still closed pointed his index finger towards Sergio and said.

“- Zzat’s the big black and white one anchored in Concarneau?

Sergio turned back to be more comfortable, did a pistol like gesture to the guy with a succession of weird magpie like sounds from his mouth.

“- That’s the one! Chack…Chack!”

“- Yeah, I know it! Well good luck!”

We finished our beers, our delicious Cherry beers and cycled back home in an uncontrollable waterfall of giggles zigzagging on the now empty road and dirt track of the marshes, disturbing the quiet and calming sounds of the crickets at dusk, knowing that this fine and memorable week in June was coming to an end.

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Cherry Beer

That little story inspired for a recipe of goat’s cheese soufflé with macerated cherries and fresh roasted beetroot pesto, toasted nuts and porridge, I hope you’ll like it!

For the beetroot and cherry pesto you’ll need:

  • 1 nice organic beetroot
  • 1 tbsp of organic macerated cherries
  • 2 organic garlic scapes
  • a splash of organic raw cream
  • salt and pepper

How to?

Peel and shop the beetroot with a bit of salt and olive oil, and roast in a hot oven for 25 minutes…

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beetroot pieces, ready to roast

In a recipient, place the beetroot pieces and a tbsp of macerated cherries; I like to use garlic scapes for extra flavour, a bit more gentle than the bulb. Chop two of them finally and blend the lot…

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Garlic scapes
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Roasted beetroot and macerated cherry pesto

Set aside in the fridge until before serving. To add a bit of drama, I decided to dry toast some mixed nuts and organic Irish porridge oats, it goes really well sprinkled on the final dish.

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Toasted mixed nuts and porridge

 

For the soufflé you’ll need:

  • 2 organic eggs
  • 30 g of salted butter
  • 30 g of organic pasta flour
  • 25 cl of organic raw milk
  • 100 g of goat’s cheese ( St Tola, co. Clare)
  • A bit of fresh nutmeg

How to?

First, mix the butter and the flour together on a low heat and add the milk while you keep stirring; add the two yolks, stir well thick enough and don’y forget to keep the whites in a bowl. You will need to beat them very thickly and fold them into the mix before pouring in the ramekins…

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Making a Béchamel like sauce

Before adding the whites, grate a bit of nutmeg and crumble the cheese into the Béchamel like mix…

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Whole nutmeg

Fold the whites gently into the mix. With your finger, butter and then flour each of the ramekins. Heat up the oven at 180 c and put in the oven for 25 minutes, until the soufflés have risen nicely. Don’t fill the ramekin too high, so it can rise comfortably…

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Soufflés, ready for the oven

The moment of truth, a beautiful soufflé, serve quite quickly as they will go down a bit, still, don’t worry too much about that, they will be delicious!

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Goat’s cheese soufflé out of the oven

For the “mise en place”, and like I said earlier, I got inspired by that little story. Serve the soufflés with the “pesto”, mint, fresh cherries and the toasted nuts and porridge. The macerated cherries came with a good bit of juice so I reduced some of it and placed at the bottom of the dish…

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Goat’s cheese soufflé with roasted beetroot and macerated cherry “pesto”

Some might even call it ” Plain Sailing”… As this picture of me at the helm of a 107 years old boat last Sunday suggests, tall tales sometimes come true! Is there such a thing really?

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Plain Sailing on a June afternoon on Lough Ree
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Goat’s Cheese Soufflé with cherries

Keep Well and Eat Happy

Slán Tamall

Franck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sole Searching

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Lemon Sole “Grenobloise” style

After nearly two years, 20 months to be precise, my father popped in for a couple of days. I am not a great traveler I must admit and due to unexpected setbacks this year (bloody car), going to Brittany for a week wouldn’t be financially very wise. So Brittany came to me, smiling as usual, more zen than me and debonair, with each time whiter hair; I am now the same age he was when he first visited me in Sligo, all these years ago. Sobering thoughts, well, at least something was these last few days!

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The Fouace And The Trust

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Fouaces and salads

As the annual Dawn Chorus approaches, I remembered a lovely story from years gone by, a story of ornithology, environmental convictions and a rare bread that has now been almost lost. Once the pride of Vannes and its county ( or Department as we call them), I wanted to recreate this recipe from memory. Not an easy task… The action takes place in 1988 I think, I was 14 or 15, wishing to be 16 or 17, like we all once did. I was – since the age of 11- passionate about wildlife and especially ornithology, the study of birds ( please don’t start, I have heard all the jokes about it!)… One day, I got my first telescope, two years after my first pair of binoculars that lasted me nearly 20 years… Life was sweet!

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The United Colours of Cork

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Marlborough Street, Cork City

This is a funny one I know; I have been leaving in Ireland for over 23 years now and the only time I have made it to Cork City were mere pit stops, waiting for a bus to Dublin somewhere in 1996 where I think I went for a stroll and a pint by the river Lee, another time to catch a shuttle to Ringaskiddy, essentially to board a ferry to Brittany. I remember waiting for a train there once too, probably in 2000, after spending a holiday with my Dad and my sister in Glengariff. I almost made it two years ago during a work trip to West Cork but the time was against us. Cork is a big County, the West part of it alone is as far as it is beautiful, far from its Capital that is, a county and a City synonymous with an  avant-garde understanding of food, a little Irish “Marseilles”, with a cacophony of accents, colours… A cosmopolitan city – the way harbour metropolises can often be- with such variety of shades; with ingredients like that, it was only going to turn out into something amazing. When it comes to food, it didn’t disappoint and it is of no surprises if it is considered by many as the “Food Capital of Ireland”, despite some proverbial Towers of Babel having a go at the title ( I call them “Baby-bel”) it can rest tranquille and assured of a bright food culture future…

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Pear Charlotte and Raspberry Coulis

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Pear Charlotte and Raspberry Coulis

I have had that recipe in my head for a while now, I mean we are talking obsession here, a tale Herman Melville would have been able to narrate much better than me; I needed to put this baby to bed, finally park it somewhere or simply just do it… “Go on lad jump!”. You see, I have never made a Charlotte before, a dessert that I particularly fancy for special occasions, it was my birthday cake, nearly always, a synonym of celebrations. We used to order it at the Patisserie, leaving it to the expert hands of the “artisan” tradesman. We went to collect it, it came with a little container of raspberry coulis that I thought would never be enough for the four of us, especially knowing how fond my father was of the red juicy sauce… This week, as I turned a new leaf and saw myself becoming wiser and older again (yeah right) it was now or never, “it’s my birthday and the Spring is here”, I felt lucky!

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Harvey’s Borscht Ballad

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Borscht and Gort na mona goat’s cheese with buckwheat honey

I could start this little story – listening to the news I have now decided to turn off- with the words of Bob Dylan “Hard Rain”, how appropriate as another year is about to roll over this week for me, “The same old story” Billie would whisper, so hell with that I say, and decided to pay a little tribute to an old friend of mine, and how we ended up, my Mother, sister, Harvey his brother and I in a Russian restaurant on my last birthday in my “cosy-cushy” hometown of Vannes…

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“March of all Weathers” Roasties

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Roasties with eggs and Goat’s cheese

St Patrick’s Day came and went, like every year. A day I used to look forward to, especially when I still lived in Brittany, filling my dreams to be with Celtic romanticism, a  session of music in the “Glasgow Pub” on Verdun Avenue, around a pint of Coreff beer from Morlaix… We did craft beers before it was cool. But the Irish National Day is now an event I tend to shy away from, not in a bad way, it is simply a case of “been there, done that and got the kiss-me-I am- Irish T-shirt”. From Sligo, under the “Free our political prisoners” banner, to Galway and the colourful and pride of the the city of tribes “Macnas”, street performers and their inimitable drum rhythms, to the Dublin parade followed by a few quiet pints before night sets… Yes, done all that, and the memory I have kept from them all apart from my Armorican “joie de vivre”, is that it seems to be always “bleeding cold!” …

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