Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas in Sarlat (Window Shopping)

Winter festivals are always quiet affairs in Medieval towns - apparently.  Though it's definitely Christmas.

Window shopping is always a treat. As with every year, the Chocolatiers take first prize.

Chocolate, Orange and Cinnamom make their way into everything. Perfect.

Warm flavours as the dusk falls. Another frost tonight.

Each year the Ville adopts a theme. This Christmas has a Chinese flavour with Dragons and lanterns.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Frost and Truffles

The first frost always heralds the fast approching Truffle season here in the Perigord.

Last night the thermometre dipped to zero for the first time and soon many of the weekly food markets will offer  the prized Tuber Melanosporum in varying amounts. Yours for anything up to 900 euro a kilo - though you need not spend anything like that - thrift is the name of the game here. That truffle sitting in amongst the eggs will impart its earthiness right through the shell to the yolk in around 24 hours, such is the pervasiveness of its trufly perfume.

But to welcome the start of the truffle season is to say au revoir to many other champignons as frost and winter weather draw their time to a close.

This mushroom season's final hurrah seems to be large quantities of Pieds de Mouton and Trompettes de Mort together with the last Cepes, for which you'll always pay a bit more as their rarity value increases!

I bought about a kilo of the black trumpets this morning for seven euros the lot. I reckon that's a steal.

Dinner tonight, a fine chicken from the Landes, mushroom pilaf and a buttery, chickeny jus, laced with tarragon.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

At Sarlat Market

Saturday is market day in Saralat, the nigh on perfect jewel in the Perigourdine crown. If your ever there, be sure  to look up above the eye line and admire the perfectly preserved medieval architecture.

Cheer up love.

Et voila!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Le Jardin early October

Russet tones of panicum 'Squaw', tails of pennisetum 'Karley rose', clumps of skyward reaching calamagrostis 'Karl foerster' - I never fail to love early October.

I have no idea which helenium this is. The yellow is stunning however and has gone on for months. It copes with it dryish too - bravo whatever you are. Panicum 'Northwind' is a star. Verbena bonariensis a thug. There's is nothing that self seeds so profusely in my garden, to the point of distraction as it's an ongoing battle weeding out the seedlings which race away to flower in September and early October.  

Sedum 'Matrona' with its red stems is undeniably beautiful, but in all honesty though I find good old 'Autumn joy' just as attractive at this time of year.

Another contender for the most prolific self seeder award - along with fennel - is the magnificent gaura lindheirmeri. The original white form does the best for me, 'Siskiyou pink' seems to have shyed away, reverted to white or whatever. Anyway, nay matter, the blanc is positively frothing and busting the 1.5 metre mark.

Perovskia and aster 'Fricatii' are slowing down.  Fricart's aster was in bloom way back in July so is good for four months or so.

The grass has 'greened' up again down by the river and is so much better for that! Amongst the green of the ferns below, somehow, in the deepest shade a fig has seeded itself. Vigorously growing away, who says fig needs full sun. Seems perfectly happy though unlikely to fruit where it is. Fig, by the way, is another addition to the prolific self seeders list. I frequently pull them from crevices and unusual corners.

Sun god is shaded by the ever reddening leaves of virginia creeper.

Sedums, sempervivums and jovibarba.

And Delopsperma.

The Pampass has 'pamped' again. I'm so glad they've made a recovery after being 'hammered' in the Grand Froid of two years ago. I reckon they'll be in full swing in another year or so. That's miscanthus sinensis  'Juli' to the right.

It's a big beast stretching 7 feet high and as much wide.

Miscanthus s. 'Malepartus' isn't quite as impressive as I imagined it would be. It's only year two, so next year maybe.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Tobacco Road

In the fields that flank the Route du Sorcier between Les Eyzies and Le Bugue, the tobacco harvest is well underway.  I doubt that Nicotiana has many years left as  a crop - for obvious reasons - but once it was big business here, possibly the biggest. Such was its importance to this area, there is even a museum in Bergerac dedicated to the 'weed', but note, as in common with all public places in France, no smoking allowed inside!

Peinture (Musée du tabac de Bergerac)

I found this photo (courtesy of Panoramio) of one of the many paintings inside the museum. Dating back to the 19th century and it's plain to see;  ahh to smoke, what a spiffy chap it makes.

 I dare say that scenes such as above, tobacco hung to dry, was a much more prevalent part of the landscape.

 Tobacco's not so rare with me. Nicotiana sylvestris, which I grow on a 'corner' down by the river, comes alive as daylight slips into dusk. Being moth pollinated it's evening scented too.

Self seeded into a crack in the terrace below, the pink of what has to be a seedling from nicotiana mutablis is nigh on perfect. It first appeared last year and so I left it. It has volunteered again this year, so again,  I'll leave it.