Sunday, September 27, 2009

Do the macaron(a)

Well my macaron attempts are getting better. I managed to scrape together a bit of time to make these little beauties. Pistachio and lime. They worked fairly well although after I lashed out on another silicone baking mat, half of them still stuck. How come the ones on the green mat didn't stick?
and the ones on the pink mat did?
Here is the ganache for the filling made with a LOT of white chocolate. It's lucky any got into the bowl really. It's my favourite Green and Blacks flavour with speckles of vanilla seed in it.
Boiling the cream and adding the ground pistachios and lime rind.
The terrifying moment of amalgamation, will it separate at this late stage?
So far, so good. Sandwiching the two halves together has to be a very careful operation as they are extremely fragile at this stage. You can see on the pink mat the remains of a lot of them.
Finally the finished product looking pretty professional I think. Next time I'm trying coffee with chocolate filling. Mmmmm.
By the way, Richard found a very cute matching caterpiller for you all on our shopping list.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hilarious 1

The most hilarious clip courtesy of the BBC series Walk on the wild side. Via the absolutely wonderful Antonia at Whoopee

Hilarious 2

Once you've watched this, turn the sound off and concentrate on the ticker tape announcements running underneath.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Home again, home again.

Yep, we're back from sunny France and things have been a bit flat. Ricardo has been doing his books with much swearing and I have been re-hemming curtains endlessly. I did however manage to rouse myself to make one new cushion.
However being in a small workroom with one small window looking out onto a courtyard/carpark just isn't the same as a pale lavender coloured one that smells of seagrass with a view on the same level as the swallows.
In the mean time I have become slightly obsessed with trying to make Macarons. it's well worth salivating over the pictures and descriptions of the flavours at Laduree
I made my first attempt today with a pale pink variety. Sifting...Piping...and cooking. They worked out just OK...a bit soft in the middle though.Now I've purchased a silicon baking mat and some coloured paste instead of liquid food dye. I'm raring to go on the next batch.Which will be pistachio flavoured.
Who knows, I may even get them to look like this...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saumur market

We went to the market in Saumur on Saturday with Liz and Laure. Sensational.
It's in a lovely small square planted with tall shady trees. I know it's a cliché but boy, French markets are so good.I must admit I'm a complete foodie so to see people who care so much about their produce brings me close to tears. The gorgeous cheese man with the giant gallic nose selling 'Tomme du vache fumé', the sweet little blonde girl selling fresh milk, butter, fromage frais battu and fresh cheese all from her own cows. The handsome man selling only stawberries and what strawberries. Like Chanel number 5 in chunk form the Maras des bois are a sensation that must be experienced.Liz and Laure are best friends. As they walk through the market at Saumur, laughing and joking everyone smiles and nods; those girls have good karma. They are true to French form (even though Liz is actually an Aussie) and do that very French thing of talking about the next meal even before you've finished the last one. Here they are trying out the plums from the Very-French-Dude near the fountain. You'de never even see plums this ripe in the supermarket...too soft to transport.Here they are with their favourite bloke. Ricado the magnificent. (Just don't mention roses and thorns!)Here are a few French doggies to keep you amused too...
We sat at a wonderful café and ate lunch watching the passing parade and I had that feeling that if I died now, that would be just fine, I would have had a great life.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Bouchemaine brocante

On the weekend we made a pilgrimage to a place called Bouchemaine. It's on the river Maine very near where it joins the Loire (thus this department we are in is called the Maine et Loire). Here's me looking like a prig out swinging my French shopping basket and matching my surrounds.
There was to be a 'vide grenier' which translates into 'empty your attic'. In Australia it would be a garage sale, in England a boot sale. It's one of our favourite things to do here and is a good reason to get up early on a Sunday. We knew it was going to be big and boy was it ever. Over 700 stalls and everyone from miles around had come for a bargain.
And yes we DID. A wonderously thick and huge linen sheet, a bike rack to take Jaques Anquetil home and a fabulously tacky cork picture of a palm tree. We spread the linen sheet out under a poplar tree, ate moules (well Ricardo did, I just ate the) frites and watched the amazing passing parade. It was fascinating observing what different people had bought. From the huge green soft toy crocodile that a little girl lugged along which was as big as she was, to two men wheeling a very large birdcage. It was a perfect day and everyone was happy to be out in it. There was a great air of holiday and these guys helped with their slightly off key songs played on hunting horns.
Just in case you thought their pants were's a back view.Oh and by the way. I HAVE been working too.
I've never really uphlstered anything before but Liz's friends Mirjam and Franc asked me could I re-cover some dining chairs for them. I had no idea whether they would work and I'm always incredibly nervous about delivering these things to people but with a hot glue gun and a bit of a hand from Ricardo, the first one worked out a treat so hey..... now I'm the Queen of double piping.
So at last I can sit under the Lime tree with a glass of wine and take a big deep breath.
Now for the next five chairs....

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Saumur and Aubigné

On the weekend we went to a Brocante or boot sale at Saumur, a town not far from here right on the Loire. The first year we came here we went to the same one and got great bargains . This year we didn't really need a badger umbrella standor a stuffed red squirrelWe did have a lovely lunch though and a chance to do some more market research on Ile Flottante .... this time Ricardo was the taster.
Afterwards we went to a festival of wine art and music at a nearby village called Aubigné. The area around Aubigné on the Layon river is famous for a wonderful dessert wine called Coteau du Layon. This year at their féte they had a font made specially by an Italian sculptor named Claudio Parmiggiani that dispensed the wine. Here Ricardo got to be the taster again..... In most of the photos lately you may notice that Ricardo wears a rather charming hat. It was given to him by my lovely sister for his birthday and never a more perfect present has there been. He hates taking it off to sleep and always leaves it somewhere where he can see it first thing on awakening. So you can imagine our suprise and delight when we bumped into an equally stylish stranger who happened to be wearing the same hat! It is indeed a small world.