Tag Archives: biscuits

Taste of Auvergne… Saint Nectaire, Sausage, Cured Ham and Biscuits

5 Mar

When you spent the last 6 months eating healthy food (quinoa salad, alfalfa sprouts, grilled veg…), you really think that you will keep going on, whatever happens.

My good resolutions did not even last a day…. as I came back in France.

As the family gathered on the first week-end, my Mum wanted to make sure that they would be provided the best products from Auvergne. Usually, on the Friday, we set a buffet for all the members of the family arriving from Paris from 8-9 pm if they are lucky until midnight or later if the traffic jam was a real nightmare.

The buffet is more or less still the same: thinly sliced delicatessen, tasty cheeses, great green salad with a traditional vinaigrette dressing, gherkins, a warm potato pie for the happy first and as a dessert, fruits and biscuits.

A couple of bottles of red wine are opened as well. It is very simple but comforting and that’s all you are looking for when you have been driving 2-3 hours after a busy week at work.

If you spend some times in Auvergne, here is the list of addresses that deserve the journey if you are a food lover.

Sausage, Ham, St Nectaire

For the delicatessen, we usually buy them in a shop called Tinel in Issoire:

They sell fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy but they are really the best for delicatessen and their prices are very reasonable. You will get whole cured ham as well as vacuum-packed deboned pieces of ham or even sliced if you do not have a slicer.

You will also spend hours choosing the dry sausages you want. From traditional ones in U shape sold in a red net to specialties such as sausages with peppercorns, herbs, nuts or spices by the unit, your basket won’t be empty for long.

They also have a great range of nuts, olives, fruit juices worth trying…

Across the traffic circle, you will find the best Saint-Nectaire Fermier at Carrefour. They are produced by Paul Dischamp and even if you can find them in many other places, this is the place you will be sure to find them all over the year. Anyway, summer is the best time of the year to taste St Nectaire as it fully matured. My mum often buy 5-6 St Nectaire in the Summer when they taste really fruity and slice them into 2 or 4. She wraps them in cling film and freeze them to use them for special occasions when they start to loose their taste. If you do that, be sure to get the St Nectaire out of the freezer at least 24 hours before and 2-3 hours at room temperature…!

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The biscuits are a bit further. You have to go to Saint-Germain Lembron, 5-10 minutes from Issoire. The biscuit factory used to be managed by Madame Landon, a very nice tinny lady, very authentic and very talkative as well…. the factory is very small and you really have to pay attention on the road if you do not want to miss it…. It looks like a private house rather than a factory but in the summer, the queue will be a good sign for you to stop! Even if you can also find them on several markets, people love to come to the factory because of the mood. When Madame Landon used to be at the til, it could take forever to be served as she used to talk with every single client and offer biscuits to kids, pets and relatives….Things have changed since she is gone, you do not feel like coming for tea when you come to the factory but you do not have to plan to stay for 1-2 hours either…. Her son is a bit rough and ready but he keeps the business running which is not an easy task.

The shop itself did not change that much. On the right side of the shop you have several jars of sweets that kids crave for especially when the queue takes forever… The cat that used to walk in between is also gone… solidarity with Madame Landon or simple request from Hygien Control… who knows?

On your left hand side and running til the back of the room are the amazing range of biscuits. From Shortbread to Coconut biscuits, you will have some choice but keep in mind that you are not coming for fancy biscuits but truly tasty biscuits. Our favorite have always been the same and we stick to that choice since. The Sacristins and the Pyrinces. The Sacristins are the twisted biscuits made with puff pastry and sugar to get a good caramelized surface. The Pyrinces are a type of Financiers. Rich in butter, almond and sugar. Very moist and almost melting in your mouth when you bite into one of them!

You can ask for gift bag or just a “vrac” bag as on the picture below. Anyway, they will still taste perfect. Give it a try with a nice sorbet or fruit salad in the summer or with a hot cup of tea by the fireplace in the winter.

It is also a perfect gift alternative to delicatessen or cheese if you have to travel…. they smell better!

If you are lucky, maybe the wooden door leading to the kitchen will be open even slightly… in that case, you may see freshly baked biscuits getting out of the oven and a few seconds later smell a nice mix of butter and sugar. Simple but efficient, you will crave for more biscuits!

Biscuits Landon 2

Make sure to bring strong arms with you…. they will be useful on your way back home!

Biscuits Landon

Here they are: “vrac” bags with Pyrinces in it and gift bag with Sacristins (exist in smaller or larger sizes).

Last but not least as it is my favorite…. the biscuits tin can! The design is simple and plain… no fuss and plenty of biscuits in it!

Biscuits Landon 3

Here we are…. I hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy once that olfactory and gustatory experience. This is really worth the journey!

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Love the Christmas Traditions : The Candy House Making….

26 Dec

Every Two Years, the whole family on my Dad’s side is gathering in Champroux where we are lucky enough to have 3 houses just big enough to welcome us all and walking distance from each other.

As a result, the family keeps growing but we still can’t imagine to spend more than 3 meals in a row separated from each other…. when it comes to feeding and sitting 45 people from 2 to 82 years old, organization has to take over imagination and the kitchen gets really busy! 

Anyway, there is still place for Fairy Tale and Peace if you keep your distance from the kitchen!

Thanks to our cousin Sandra who spent a few years in New-York with her kids, we get the chance to have wonderful Candy Houses created by  the renewed generations of nephews and nieces….

Every year, she takes the time to gather the most decadent candies she can find in the local supermarket and gather all the kids to spend a “sweet” afternoon, creating a mouth-watering candy landscape. 

Ingredients for the Candy House:

  • light cardboard boxes such as cereals, tea, biscuits…. or the Kinder House if you can find it
  • sweets with lots of color, different flavor and a flat surface…. Tagada, M&M’s, Chamallow, Tirlibibi, Croco, Bams, Schtroumpfs, Cocobat, Koala……
  • biscuits easy to break or divide in order to build the walls of the house: Paille d’Or, Mikado, Barquette, Langues de Chat, wafers…
  • almond paste – white, green and purple to create little figurines….
  • egg whites & icing sugar to create the glue
  • small spoons or knifes to spread the glue

Method for the Candy House:

First of all, create the base of your house, it has to be simple, just the 4 walls and the roof but you can make several of them depending on how many kids are participating and their ages.

Wrap a tray with foil paper, this will be the base of your landscape. It has to be big enough to install the houses and figurines created.

To make it really special, pour the candies in bowls and get the biscuits and almond paste ready to use all over the table, the kids will love the view of their working space.

Last, get the glue ready: in a bowl, pour a good amount of icing sugar and slowly incorporate 1 tbsp of egg white after another. It will form a crumbly mix but eventually it will become a paste smooth enough to be spread with a small knife or spoon. If it is too smooth, the candies and biscuits will be too heavy and will never stick to the cardboard base.

Pour the mix in smaller cups – as many cups as you have kids participating!

1-prep candy house

When all the kids are ready, take the time to show them how to get started and also to think about what they want as a result…. also tell them that they have to deal with the amount of sweets they have on the table…. the more they eat, the less attractive the house will be…..! Anyway, always keep a few bags in a well-hidden place, when it comes to candies, enough is not part of their vocabulary.

2-workinprogress

Once the walls have been covered with biscuits and candies, they can have fun and start decorating… creating chimneys, fences, balconies, figurines such as snowmen, mice, cats, birds, snails, trees….

At some point, it’s important to be there to help the youngest who can be struggling with the glue sometimes….. it is really sticky and gets dry in the cup when it gets almost empty. Have a good refill at hand!

3-almost there

Suddenly, it will all come together and the result will be amazing. They will just have to take the time to finish the whole landscape. Spread a good amount of glue on the spot were you want to fix the houses and place each of them on top then you can install the different elements created to get around them.

4-result

Here is the result…. Just take the time to show the candy houses to the next generations….. they have to learn too…. do it ASAP…. the candy house never last long…. This year it took them 5 minutes to get the walls naked! And guess what…. it’s mainly the grand-parents who enjoyed it the most!

5-admiration