Results tagged Lot from David Lebovitz

Our Tour de France

Goat cheeses

The French often say, “There’s no need to leave France – we have everything here!” While it’s easy to brush it off as chauvinism, it’s true — for a country that could fit inside of Texas, there is a huge diversity of climates and terrains in one, single country. You can find everything in l’hexagone, from the windy shores of Brittany (where we’ve huddled around the fireplace, wearing sweaters in Augusts of yore), to the sunny south, where beaches are clogged with tourists and the few locals that choose to stay in town, to bask in the abundant sun of the Mediterranean.

The Lot

After living in France for a while, I sometimes get the feeling that the country never gets a break on the summer weather. While it can be gorgeous, we were told that the day after we left Paris, the weather turned grey and cool. And while we had some nice days during our two weeks of travel, we hit quite a bit of uncooperative weather ourselves, that always seemed to be creeping up on us.

France

Being from San Francisco, I never look at forecasts and simply plan for everything. And anything. (And you’ll see that in spite of my best efforts with photo editing software, I was unable to add in sunshine to the shots.)

gazpacho

Since we were mostly éponging (sponging) off friends, by staying with them as we traveled, I had to brush up on my morning small-talk skills. I’m hopelessly terrible at responding to enthusiastic greetings of “Good morning!!” or “Hi! How did you sleep?” first thing in the morning.

Boucherie

It doesn’t help that Romain is so talkative first thing in the morning that I often check his back, to see if I can take the batteries out. I need at least thirty minutes, minimum, to adjust to the new day – preferably without any commentary.

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French Tomato Tart

kate's tart

This week I saw the first promise of tomato season. A few brightly colored cherry specimens were brought home from the local market, as well as the more standard varieties. I was down in Gascony visiting my friend Kate Hill, and her photographer friend Tim Clinch was there preparing to lead a photography workshop. Looking for something tempting and colorful, tomatoes seemed the obvious choice as willing subjects.

cherry tomatoes erika

In addition to the profusion of flowers plucked from the lush garden by the canal du Midi, the tomatoes had their moment in front of the camera. But once the participants stopped clicking, we grabbed them and put them where they rightfully belong: In the kitchen.

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Cahors

Malbec cahors

They say that you know you’re holding a glass of wine from Cahors if you can’t see your fingers on the other side of the glass through the wine. Which is why the malbec wine from Cahors is nicknamed “black wine”.

Peer into a glass of it, and it’s easy to see (or should I say ‘not see’) why.

cahor towel walnutsnoix

I didn’t know much about the wine, or the region, before my recent visit. I just knew there were allegedly a lot of truffles, foie gras, and duck dishes cooked up in the Lot. So when I was asked by some folks who were shooting a film about the regional specialties if I wanted to tag along with them, I happily accepted.

vines in cahors

(In addition to shooting the grapes, and getting a truffle or two ready for its close up, we made a video of me, too. Which, if I don’t come off as too much of a dork, you’ll see on the site when it’s finished.)

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The Black Truffle Extravaganza

big-ass truffle

When I was in Cahors, I had dinner with a French woman who teaches English. She told me one of the biggest differences between English and French is that in English, we often use a lot of words to mean one thing. And not all of them make sense. I’ve never really thought about it all that much, but she was right; we do tend to use a lot of expressions and words where one, or a few, might suffice.

black, black truffles

“Hang a left”, “Hide the sausage”, and “Beat the rap” are a few phrases that come to mind because another day during my trip, someone was giving driving directions to a French driver, and he didn’t understand why one would “hang” a turn. (The other two phrases didn’t come up during the week, which was both good and unfortunate. And not necessarily in that order.)

But we Anglophones do have to use quite a few words to mean one thing. “That wooden tool that you use to spread crêpe batter on a griddle” is called, simply, a “râteau“.

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The Truffle Market in Lalbenque

Even though we live in a globalized world, I’m always surprised by how many people want to make or eat anything, and everything, no matter where they live. Whether or not it makes sense.

truffle basket at market red basket of truffles

Take Parisian macarons. In the last year or so, they’ve become the new cupcake and not a week goes by when I don’t get a message about someone freaking out and wondering why the top of someone’s batch of macarons cracked, or where someone can get real, honest-to-goodness French macarons in Podunk.

marche aux truffes

Like a Parisian baguette or a croissant, if you want any of those things, you should just come to Paris and have it. If you want Texas chili, you should go to Texas. If you’re craving Kentucky fried chicken, well, then you should go to Kentucky.

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Truffle Hunting

truffle hunting scene

It’s not all fun and frolic—and chocolate—around here. Aside from dealing with banks that limit access to your own money, or scratching your head when the France Telecom representative tells you that it’s going to cost you a mere €465 to keep your mobile number if you change to another one of their other phone plans (although it was a stretch to even get there; his first response was, “Yes. It is not possible”), believe it or not, there are some less-than-pastoral things about life here.

truffle hunter's hands

One of them is not Tuber melanosporum, or black truffles, which as far as I’m concerned more than makes up for anything else. (Well, I would like a new phone…)

Sure, various black truffles are found in Spain, Italy, China, Croatia, and even in the United States of America. But none that I’ve smelled compare to the famed black truffles unearthed from woods and forests of southwest France. Rien du tout.

truffes du Quercy pig

When I worked in the restaurant business, we’d often get knobbly black truffles sent to us, which were shaved over simple dishes like pasta, potatoes, and risottos; anything more complicated competes with their funky, pungent, but highly-prized aroma. People go ga-ga over truffles, but I never caught the truffle bug, which was excellent news for my wallet.

searching for black truffles

On my recent trip to Cahors, we went for a walk in the forest with a truffle hunter—and his boisterous pig, in search of black truffles. And it was there I learned how they work together to find these elusive tubers.

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Kir Menu

recommended aperitifs

Maybe we shouldn’t count out le Kir quite yet. (# 2).

Although I’ll take a pass on one spiked with violet, or à la rose.