Monday, September 28, 2009

Oyster Farming Village & Steak, South-West France

I got to France for the last weekend in August, and went on a road trip to the beach for a mate's birthday celebration. A big load friends that go waaay back got together for a couple of days of sun, sea, camping, booze, oysters, steak and booze. It was iconic.

One morning, feeling hungover, we cycled in the fresh morning sun to an oyster farming village, made up of lots of tiny wooden houses, with sand-filled alleyways serving as streets. After exploring the nooks, and chatting to locals, we settled at a seaside restaurant that serves only oysters and wine. My 25 or so oysters went down such a treat. After them and a few glasses of crisp white, my hangover was much more manageable, and the beating sun was calling me to the white sand beach for a nap.

One evening, we cycled through the pine woodland of the Landes national park, to go to the outdoor steak-and-chips restaurant that is a regular beach stop-off for a few of us. 20 round a long table, we were served a selection of different barbecued steaks that had been cut off the carcass just before going on the grill.

Thick, juicy, full of flavour, tender and very rare - everyone loved it! It's so refreshing to be with a big bunch of people, including a lot of Brits, with no-one being fussy about eating beef or the level of cookedness. We just ordered steak and chips for everyone, and let Fred (owner and chef at Chez Fred) do what he does so well.

After putting away my own body weight in meat, chips, ice-cream, wine and cognac, the cycle home in the dark, through woodland, on a narrow path, with no proper lights was a challenge. I wobbled around, couldn't manage to cycle in a straight line, squealed a few times and might have had a tiny tantrum, but I was glad of the ride (and sober) by the time we got back to the campsite.

The food and setting for those couple of days were heavenly, but the best thing was catching up with so many good friends. :)

September in France

...was lovely, as usual. But France Telecom (or France Teleco*ks as I like to call them) managed to mess up both my phone line and internet connection for the whole month I was there - quite an achievement, I know, but inconvenient when you work freelance entirely online. That's why I've been very quiet on the blog and twitter recently.

Anyway, I consoled myself with the endless supply of those juicy garden tomatoes, along with courgettes and aubergines from the garden. Creamy, homegrown aubergines are far more enjoyable than shop-bought ones, both in terms of the unctuous texture and a more fragrant flavour. Courgettes are nuttier. I enjoyed lots of both, roasted, fried and barbecued, often with garlic (raw or cooked with the veg), sometimes with lemon juice, usually with garden herbs.

As for the tomatoes, see my previous post. I just gorged on them as anticipated, and it was fabulous.