18 August 2018

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Tasting Aubrac #5

End of the camino: long slices of homemade berry pie and fragrant coffee made us stop and linger in a small village flanked by fields and on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Above: tartines of salmon and fresh goat cheese, beef carpaccio and avocado, comte and pickled cabbage, all atop sliced punti, a local savory cake made with sorrel and prunes; dandelion root and gentiane artisanal ice cream

Below: early breakfast for two on our last morning

"3 hours (or less) from Paris" fly/drive option:

Direct flights daily (1 hour 15 minutes) + car rental at airport

17 August 2018

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Tasting Aubrac #4

Once everyone's plates of aligot were polished off it was time to bring on the meats - and almost everything else, farm style, at the same time: charcuteries, planches (for 6) of fork tender Aubrac beef smothered in shallots, crunchy retortillats - a truffade of fried potatoes, garlic, bacon and cheese, re-fried til crisp - grilled sausages, local cheeses, wine

Below: an enormous hot apple puff pastry tarte was cut into squares then each portion topped with home-made hazelnut studded caramel ice cream (not shown: espressos all round; local specialty gentiane liqueur digestifs); the setting

Tomorrow: pie in your eye

16 August 2018

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Tasting Aubrac #3

Made with fresh potatoes, butter, garlic, crème fraîche, sea salt, pepper and tons of cheese, aligot, the signature dish of Aubrac, is one of life's not-to-be-missed culinary experiences.

Above:  piping hot and stringy with cheese the aligot is finished off at our table from an isolated hilltop stone hut used by shepherds to make cheeses in winter, turned into a casual restaurant in summer

Below: table set for our group; scenic rolling pastures beyond

Tomorrow: a carnivore's dilemma

15 August 2018

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Tasting Aubrac #2

The first thing I do to get a feel for a region's foods (and its priorities: loads of olive and saucisson stalls? A culture of apéritifs) is to get up and out early and head to a local town or village market.

Note: Some are in the evening; others seasonal

Tomorrow: aligot, pride of l'Aubrac

14 August 2018

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Tasting Aubrac #1

July was the perfect time to visit this fairytale region just north of Provence. Few tourists, incredible weather, and easy-to-nab rooms made our stay here perfection and, as every region in France, Aubrac came through with its own signature specialties: aligot, red label boeuf d'Aubrac, Cantal cheeses, punti, farçous, tripous, estofinado and fouace, to name a few.

Above: village of Estaing; in the countryside; along the river

Below: breakfast awaits

Tomorrow: to market to market

13 August 2018

As summer wanes

It's barely mid August and Paris is slowly returning to its old bustling self.

And while August is when most take their annual vacances, our summer saw 3 exquisite short trips to 3 exquisite regions in June and July:

1) June, a few days chez friends as guests at their fantastic vacation home in Brittany right on the beach overlooking Île de Ré with its white villages: there were market visits, terrace bbq's, biking, boating, windsurfing, seaside restaurants and sunset apéritifs - making it difficult to return to Paris

2) Late June, a week jaunt through Burgundy, a stunning region we love and where Frédéric would spend summers at his grandparents' when he was growing up

3) In July, on the heels of France's World Cup win, it was off to meet family in the Aveyron-Aubrac, another region steeped in its own culture, cuisine, and an easy drive into Provence and Spain

And August? For me, the best time to savor Paris.

All this week:
3 hours (or less) from Paris: Tasting Aubrac