Today I have really dined. Upon recounting my meals to a friend, he responded, "After all you are the Goose, aren't you?"
I have taken the name, The Goose in Toulouse, to mean many things: to acknowledge the bird who has provided such a staple and delicious product to the region and to compare these journeys to a children's story or a fairy tale. But, my friend is right: I too am the goose, in the sense that France often stuffs me to the brim, and that I share this pleasure with those with whom I journey.
Today was no exception: from breakfast to dinner, France has been a champ!
I have told you of the splendid magical house in the mountains (La Maison du Sylvie) in previous posts. In the springtime the house is perhaps at its prime: The mountains glow in the distance with the remains of winter snow, and the world shines with every shade of green.
A vegetable well-prepared is never forgotten. In my memory, the taste of Sylvie and Gil's wild salad with home made vinegar will forever stand out as a taste of freshness and earthiness. This time, Sylvie garnished the salad with some small field flowers.
Their foods are always simple but crafted with such care: perfectly cut potatoes roasted so that each surface was uniformly crispy and a guinea fowl stew with slow-cooked, sweet onions. With the wine flowing freely and abundantly, their food beckons seconds and thirds until everyone must wilt with satisfaction upon the backs of their chairs, breathing deeply, marveling at the landscape, and radiating with pleasure.
And it is after a few moments like this, that the little decorative plates for the cheese course emerge, and there in the center of the table, is placed a plate of the most delicious cheeses of the Pyrenees. My favorite goat cheeses (the two round ones) made with such fresh, spring milk, and two wedges of a hearty cow's milk cheese from the mountains that boarder Spain.
And just when you think you cannot manage another bite, you are presented with a fresh, tangy berry sauce that refreshes after a satisying meal. The dessert is a croustade, a typical desert from the Ariege made with lots of butter, apples, and in this one prunes.
And after such a meal, there is only one thing you would like to do: lounge in the grass, take in the sun, and strum a guitar.
Well, after such a lunch I returned back to Saint Girons. Just when I couldn't imagine eating any more, dinner was announced ready. A glass of Saint Emilion in hand, my appetite was quickly regained at the sight of this plate:
Cassolettes de fruits de mer- Scallops and shrimp pan-seared in butter. Simple enough. But as the French do, the dish was accompanied by the most perfect sauce. The cream and spice nicely bathing each savory morsel of seafood. But the real charm to this dish was the unsuspecting dollop of creamy vegetables in the middle. This was so delicious I ran to the kitchen to inquire what this vegetable was, and low and behold it was a cream of baby leeks (pictured below).
And just when the flavors in your mouth are so so happy you could not imagine that gustatory pleasure could possibly increase, you are served with a magret de canard stuffed with foie gras entier, pan-seared so that the fat gets nice and crispy, and then drizzled with a port jus.