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mercredi 29 juin 2011

Bio in Biarritz: Céline talks tomatoes

I am so excited to welcome Paris Paysanne's first ever guest blogger, Céline Vallauri. Céline has lived all over France (and the world!) and has recently settled in Biarritz, where she works at the town's open-air market. I was lucky enough to visit Céline and her charming Aussie partner in Biarritz a few weeks ago and see how immersed she is in the local food scene there. The region has so much to offer as far as native fruits and veggies and we're lucky to have Céline share her local knowledge with us!

In this first installment of Bio in Biarritz Céline introduces us to the many tomato varieties of Soutwestern France.

Discovering the market of Les Halles de Biarritz

My uncle used to have a stand at the market Forville in Cannes, and as a child I particularly liked to go there and see him sell his vegetables and fruits. The market's atmosphere was quite exceptional, it was a warm, nice and lively place!

Each product one finds at the market is usually produced in the region where the market takes place, that's why a market in Lille will be quite different to the one i'm about to write about.

I moved to Biarritz beginning of January 2011, and finding work in a touristy and seasonal town like Biarritz isn't easy! Unless you work in real estate or you're a hairdresser…

When I read about a vacant position in a stand at the market of Les Halles de Biarritz, I seized the occasion and went straight to the market in order to convince my employers-to-be.

The next day I was given a trial, and I was hauling my first stack of apples at 6h30 in the morning. I must say that being a seller at the market is far from anything I had ever done before.

However, it is one of the most interesting jobs I have done so far.

I'm learning every day about different varieties of fruits and vegetables, the season each of them grow in, and the best ways of preparing and preserving them.

One of my favourite products is the tomato! Because it exists hundreds of varieties, all of them as interesting and tasty as the other. Because it is a generous vegetable, its grains are abundant and its juice and smell make one salivate!

I want to present the different varieties we have at the moment on the market, they're all from the South West of France, in open ground, and that we get directly from the producer. This is why they wouldn't be found all year round, and that their trade is important, for it sustains local agriculture.

First I'd like to introduce the producer in question, Jean-Luc Garbage. His farm is in Saint-Martin d'Armagnac (Gers) and he has one of the most respected work methods. He has done this job for over 20 years, and it is a true passion for this man, he is a committed farmer!

He has specialised in the production of mini-vegetables as well as ancient varieties according to traditional methods. In fact, he produces all sorts of salads and edible plants, as well as eggplants, capsicums, broccoli and cabbage, melons and wild strawberries… and those fascinating tomatoes!

He produces accordingly to each season, his work methods are traditional and natural, which makes his products all the more authentic and unique.

The ancient varieties of tomatoes are becoming quite prized since a few years, even though they have long existed. Their flavour and originality put them straight away in the centre stage!

Here are the varieties that we sell at the moment :

La Noir de Crimée

The best of the black tomatoes, splendid colours, from dark purple to dark green.

Mild taste, not at all acid.

la Jaune Ananas/Pineapple

Gorgeous tomato, from yellow to red, multicoloured. Excellent taste and flavour, not much acidity.

la Coeur de Boeuf/Ox heart

Plump and tasty.

la Summer

Splendid tomato, bright orange colour, tasty and sweet.


One of the tastiest tomato, perfect for cooking sauces, traditionally used for sun-dried tomatoes.


Emerald green, juicy flesh, flavoured and sweet.

l'Orange Queen

Very mild flavoured.

la Beauté Blanche/ White Beauty/White Wonder

White-cream coloured, very mild because it's a sweet tomato. Very plump and little acid.

la Carotina

Juicy flesh, flavoured and fruity. Very good taste, rich in vitamin A.

la Vintage

Very attractive tomato, golden stripped on a reddish/pinkish colour. Firm and flavoured.

To finish this article, I'd like to share a recipe I particularly like to make using ancient varieties of tomatoes, when they're too ripe to be sold. It's Gaspacho, a perfect refreshing cocktail of vitamins!

You'll need a good kilogram of tomatoes, 2 capsicums, 1 cucumber, spring onions, garlic, 1 lime and 1 lemon, a few chillies, salt, pepper, vinegar and of course, extra-virgin olive oil and basil!

Cut everything in cubes, in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 glass of water. Add olive oil to your liking. Finally blend everything until it gets the consistency of a soup.

Leave it to rest a few hours before the meal.

Bon appétit!

Sources : http://jour-de-fete.org/?tag=jean-luc-garbage


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mardi 21 juin 2011

Rainy Day Baking: Peach Crumble

I share many of the same feelings towards baking as Hannah Hart from My Drunk Kitchen ("I'm bored of baking"), but for some reason yesterday (blame it on the rain?) I found myself looking for an indoor project that could take up some time and would result in a final product that would make my fiancé look at me lovingly with the eyes of a well-fed Frenchman.

So I decided to save the peaches in our fruit bowl from certain death by kitty (he picks them out of the bowl with his tiny kitty teeth and then rolls them around all night) and make a crumble in my sober kitchen. I have been known to whip up some AMAZING creations in my drunk kitchen (sweet and sour shrimp was a personal best), but if I was going to go through the trouble of baking, I actually wanted to remember how I did it and maybe even write it down for you later, so no booze for blogger Emily.

So it is freezing and grey in Paris, which is how I found myself rainy day baking with Summer fruits on this late June day. While peaches are best in July, French fgrown versions of this fuzzy fruit have been in the coop for weeks and therefore I give them the Seasonal stamp of approval.

Having assembled my seasonal fruits and organic dry goods, I looked for recipes that would not require me to buy anything (it was cold out and I work from home, so not going to get dressed unless it's for an all-day or absolutely essential event, not just picking up flour).

I found a recipe at the Café Fernando site and modified it slightly to reflect my laziness and (totally sober) flights of fancy in the cuisine.

Here it is, I hope you have fun with this.

Side note, this alone is a great accomplishment for a day. If you make this Peach Crumble, I think you shouldn't have to do anything else all day, you've earned it.

Side, side note- this recipe calls for brown sugar, so either make friends with a stocked up anglophone fast or offer suggestions for supplements in the comments section. I think you could maybe add a small amount of syrup or mybe just use more regular sugar.

Parisian Rainy Summer Peach Crumble


1 1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup unrefined sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of rolled oats
a pinch of salt
dashes of cinnamon & nutmeg
5 oz. butter

6-8 peaches (they can be a little on the unripe side)
lemon juice (half a lemon will do)
a vanilla pod (I'm lucky and scored some vanilla pods from a friend- you could add some vanilla extract if you don't want to buy expensive vanilla pods, which are not locally grown for most of my readers, I imagine)

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350° F or 177° C depending on your part of the world.

Step 2: Put your dry ingredients (only half of the unrefined sugar-save the rest for later) in a food processer. When I made a crumble with my friend Terresa we did this part by hand (Terresa really hates processed foods, even food processed foods!) Terresa is an awesome hands on baker, but I took the hands off approach for this step- getting bored of baking already?

Alright, get your dry ingredients in your processer and pulse them with a non-blade food processer mixer attachement thing (the plastic one) until ingredients are mixed together.

Then add your butter in little bits and pulse throughout. You want your dry ingredients to moisten and ball up a bit, but you don't want dough- just crumble. Taste it. It should be good and sandy. Like sand would taste at Candyland beach. You can do it.

Step 3: Throw a little over a cup of water in a pot and bring it to a bowl. Add the rest of the sugar and let it dissolve while you add your lemon juice and vanilla (either the extracted seeds and remaining shells of the pods or your extract). When the sugar is fully dissolved you're ready for...
Step 4: Cut an "X" on the bottom of your peaches and set them in the syrup mix, lower heat, cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Step 5: Remove your peaches with a slotted spoon and put them in icy water to stop the cooking. Keep your syrup you'll need it later.

Step 6: Peel the skin of the peaches and extract the stone, cut them into medium size slices and throw them back in your syrup. Let them site there for another 10 minutes.

Step 7: Use your slotted spoon to fish the slices out and transfer them to your baking pan. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of the syrup mixture over the peaces and mix them around a bit.

Step 8: Add the Candyland sand to the top and scatter little bits of butter on top so it all gets good and golden.

Step 9: Bake for 30-40 minutes and let cool for a good while because it will be hot!

Enjoy! This is really good, I promise. I don't have any pictures of the finished product because we ate it so quickly. True story.

And also, baking isn't so bad after all. I survived this and am looking for more things to turn into crumbles!

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