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Thursday, August 25, 2011

French Food Weekend

One of my favourite food series that has aired this year on the SBS network has been French Food Safari.  I have been a Food Safari devotee since catching a couple of the episodes of the first series which took viewers to a different country each week and explored the cuisines.  I now own the series on DVD and regularly screen some reruns when I need some international inspiration.  On the popularity of the original series which ran for three seasons, the network broadcasted Italian Food Safari last year, a culinary trip around all things foodie in Italy.  This year it was France’s turn to be on show and the host Maeve O’Meara along with co-host and super French chef Guilliame Brahimi, traversed around the country with a weekly agenda to make your mouth water.  The series finished up last week and it has left me in a French state of mind. 

Here in Melbourne there are plenty of Patisseries that will have you gawking through their window panes as they display their delicious creations.  There are also a couple of charcuterie outlets – where I am sure I would go on a never ending journey with the pates and terrines as my companions.  The Queen Victoria Market houses one of the best places to get your hands (and tastebuds!) on fresh French cheeses.  I have winced at the thought of having to choose from so much availability but at the cost of around $100 per kilo for some of the soft cheeses from the Normandy region, I would need an unlimited supply of funds and a really quick metabolism.  One thing is for sure, to get exceptional French food be prepared to pay premium prices – French food does not come cheap.  And this is perfectly alright as I don’t think there should be any compromise for good quality.  In saying this though the bill does get a little excessive when you decide that you want to share the French goodies with others, and so you have to buy a little more to ensure enough spreading of the love.  This is where the inspiration came from to build on my French recipe repertoire and create a little bit of a charcuterie from my own kitchen.

Now a typical charcuterie in France would be decorated with drying sausages dangling like ornaments from the ceiling.  They would have fresh blocks of pate and carefully compressed terrines originating from poultry and other game meat.  Confit duck would also be a main feature as nothing compares to a slow cooked duck leg that has been stewing for hours in its own fat.  So my plan was simple: take one weekend and turn it into all things French.  I also plan on conjuring up some fine dining marvels for the dinner plate.  After all, the theme was in motion so why divert.  I already had my initial burst of inspiration from French Food Safari and I scoured the internet for some recipes that I could add my own flair to.  So although it seemed very ambitious for someone that has not tried his hand at anything like this before, I must say I am very pleased with the results.  So here’s to a weekend of plenty kitchen time and a reward more than worthwhile.  A truly satisfying foodie adventure if I do say so myself.

Here is the playlist: (click on each link to take you to the recipe page)

  1. Duck Confit – Marylands slow cooked in fat until the meat falls of the bone
  2. Duck Rillettes – Meat shredded from the confit duck legs then combined with herbs and spices into a spreadable paste
  3. Chicken & Port Pate – served with Roasted Balsamic Pears
  4. Terrine – Two types -  A combination of Pork, Veal & Chicken and a Pork, Chicken & Date number, all served with a Red Pepper Relish
  5. Bouillabaisse – Fish stew, on a budget
  6. Duck a L’Orange – A classic dinner dish made simple
  7. Coq au Vin - Chicken cooked in Red Wine after overnight marination.

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