Today we went to Vichy to a Brocante or second hand/antique market. We got some Macaroons, they were delicious. Then we went to Issoire for a Christmas market, but it wasn't on!
We looked in the church, then drove to Champeix, a pretty nearby town.
When we were driving home we went through a town called Pouzat. There was a market there. We stopped for a look. They had horse and carriage rides, trampolines, pretty stalls and Candy Floss. So we got our Christmas market in the end ... just not where we thought it was!
We woke up early and took the bus to Vichy. When we got there we went to the Petit Pot - which is a cafe. We got 5 delicious croissants, then we picked up a rental car. In the car we went to Varennes, half an hour away, for their Marche de Noel or Christmas Market. The market was in a big hall/shed. Santa wasn't there yet, but there were lots of stalls and we got some hot chestnuts.
All around the town there were Christmas decorations, outside all the shops were real Christmas trees and all the rounds abouts had huge displays.
We can see Chantelle Abbey from our window. It is home to about half a dozen nuns who run a business to help support themselves. If you are looking for a unique Christmas present they could have the answer at their online shop.
Well I have no motor to tinker with, no boat to clean, no speed enhancing things to invent and fit to Hector. I have spoken to the marina a couple of times and I understand that she is missing me as mush as I am missing her!
The other 'ladies' in my life need much less maintenance, so with the spare time on my mind, I have turned to God... just joking!...(although I did read a great book on philosophy recently, which would make an interesting post).
But yes I have a French cook book and I have started dabbling with French cuisine. I do like their slow cooking. It creates such tender juicy dishes. Last week I cooked a Pot-au-feu de Josue de boeuf (for you uncouth it means Beef Cheeks - and for mum that means casserole). The cheek is one of the most used muscles in the cow (they eat all day right), so very tough. But once the French have finished with it, it becomes softer than warm butter, juicer then the juiciest thing you can think of.
And did I mention rich. I write this as I peer over my rounding (yes I use the verb - it's still growing), stomach, and wonder if I'll get my six pack back, which only just emerged in the last few months - first time in 20 years. It's hard to find a recipe that isn't loaded with butter and cream or cheese. Then there's the chocolate, the French recipe for Beef Cheeks calls for dark chocolate. It had to be the 70% stuff and lots off it!
Well cooking is not all bad. Tonight I am cooking Choucroute garnie. This is a French Pork Belly dish with a bouillon jus. A little game...without looking up anything, the first person to add a comment on how bouillon jus is made will win a free "Sam McCully French Cooking" book.
Well, I'm no longer a cooking virgin and I've moved beyond my fathers boiled mince dish...both significant milestones in a young mans life. I'm beginning to develop some interesting insights into this cooking game. So keep an eye on Hectors website for updates. In the meantime, I have added a couple of photos to wet your appetite.
Cheers for now and remember...you are what you eat...and you become what you dream...
A Haiku is a style of Japanese poetry. It is unrhymed and must have 17 syllables, in a 5-7-5 three line pattern. Traditionally they focus on nature. Here are some of my Haiku.
I walk through the tree's
Watching the leaves fall downwards
Then finally settle.
A little sapling
Peeking out of the wreckage
Of a dead forest.
By Maddy, the amazing!
We drove an hour south to the town of St Anastasia, only to find that despite changing their name back in 1973, they haven't quite adopted the St Anastasia part yet. We managed to find one sign to get a photo of our Anastasia with. Very disappointing but a beautiful town all the same. We had a great lunch there, we shared the plat de jour - pate, boeuf bourguignon & tarte pomme.
The nearby skifields were shut but we found some snow.
It was incredibly cold in these last two photos and everyone refused to come and stand in the horizontal sleet for a photo, except Camille!
We moved on to Mont Dore a very grand ski resort town, for a hot chocolate and a defrost.
We all went to play tennis at the courts down the road. My favourite part was Daddy and I on one side, and Maddy and Mummy on the other. We had a long volley. Camille got the balls and gave us them, it was fun.
Charroux is one of our neighboring villages, only about 6km away. A lovely town with its cobbled streets and wonky buildings. It is famous for its mustard which has been made here since the 18th century.
Friday was a public holiday in France to commemorate the end of the First World War. We took a trip to the town Pourcain Sur Sioule to watch their ceremony. It was a cold wet day and somehow fitting.
Before we went we did some history 101, regarding the role of France in the war and massive toll it took.
Every Hotel de Ville, every memorial, every Government building is covered with French flags.
We're an ordinary family of 5 dreaming, planning and now beginning our adventure around the Mediterranean (and further afield), having an awesome time! Look out for our boat and come and say hi.