Monday, 23 November 2009

Foire au gras and pruning the olive tree

The foire au gras this weekend in Roujan is the beginning of the Christmas season.  People here don’t send cards, give as many presents or shop as determinedly as those in other countries, but food, as always, is important.  The foire au gras (which translates into English as ‘fat fair’, but this doesn’t sound so good), is a chance to buy foie gras, cured duck breast, whole ducks, wine, cured sausages …. all the delicious foods that are part of Christmas meals in this area, and all directly from the producers.

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The fair is held in the village hall and sports hall, a very modern setting for a traditional event.  Outside there were cheese, shellfish and vegetables stalls and amusements for children.  Inside there were rows of craft stalls and, most importantly, the wine and food producers’ stands.

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We bought a duck and some foie gras from M. Gaubert of Camp Grand in the Aveyron, who was eager to talk about his produce and give advice about cooking and serving it.  We also tasted for the first time (and bought) some excellent wines from Domaine Bonian at nearby Pouzolles.  Some say that this is an expensive way to buy these products, but I would much prefer to pay a little extra and buy from the producers, talk to them and taste, rather than buying anonymously in a supermarket.

Some people, too, I know, have reservations about foie gras production, but I think that when it is properly produced it is not cruel, unlike the mass-produced battery-farmed chicken, eggs and pork which are eaten by so many.

Pruning the olive tree

A couple of weeks ago we harvested the olives from the older and slightly larger of our two olive trees.   This tree was one we bought without thinking too much about it, soon after we bought the garden, as we wanted to plant one as soon as possible.  It has always been rather straggly and was in need of a good prune, which I did this morning.  The aim when pruning olive trees is to have space in the centre with the branches spreading outwards and this is what I’ve tried to do.

DSC00125 Before pruning . . . DSC00127

. . . and after.

Pruning like this may mean a smaller crop next year, but it should make a better shaped tree for the future.

DSC00135 I’ve taken the fresher, newer leaves to dry because I want to try olive leaf tea.  The other branches will make a good start for the fire the next time we light the barbecue.

Today’s harvest

DSC00129 Tiny parsnips and carrots (some of which were given to us by our neighbours in exchange for some parsnips, which they’d never tried before), the last of the aubergines and, hiding behind the bowl, some radishes.  We’re also picking salad leaves almost every day now.



DSC00133 And what is this doing here?  Anemones aren’t supposed to flower until the spring, but this one seems to have been fooled by the warm weather we’ve been having lately.


Michelle said...

Your little olive tree looks great after its trim. I've never heard of olive leaf tea before but it sounds very interesting. I trim my little potted olive tree regularly to keep it small, next time I won't put the leaves in the compost, I'll dry them and try some tea. Thanks for the great idea!

mo said...

My, you've been busy! The picture of the cheese stall particularly has my mouth watering!

sleepyduck said...

I agree that it's better to buy from local producers whenever possible :-) Olive leaf tea sounds... er... interesting... I look forward to hearing what it tastes like.

Jan said...

Catalan Gardener wrote a post or two about olive leaf tea, I dont know if you've read it? Your parsnips are looking good, it's noit a common vegetable here either.

Jan said...

I've just been searching for Catalan Garden myself with no success, apart from this
The two of them maintain quite a few blogs and the garden furniture etc has completely taken over from the old gardening blog.

chaiselongue said...

Thanks for that link, Jan, it's really useful.

Heiko said...

Olive leaf tree? Hmm, not so sure about that one, but we are in the middle of some major pruning and we could make enough of it to keep a herd of elephants in supply for a year I reckon. Is it supposed to have any beneficial effects?

Jane said...

I'd love to know how old your olive is. My two are both just a year old (in my garden, that is) but I want to shape them for an attractive look, as well as fruit, so I'm curious if the two are compatible and when I can or should start. Neither is much more than 3-1/2 feet yet.

Those cheeses make me long for France!

Heiko said...

I've just come across a web-site selling olive leaf tea: They are asking $7.99 for 70g! Do you think there is a business to be made from this, and if so why hasn't anyone else in Italy / France thought of this with tons going to waste every year?