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February, 2012:

Fête Des Nationalites 2012

Each year the Comité des Fêtes hosts an evening soiree to celebrate the diversity of the nationalities of the residents of Gourgé.  There are 12 different nationalities – French, English, Scottish, Portuguese, Mexican, Australian, Dutch, Turkish, Spanish, German, American and Romanian.

The first soiree held was three years ago and was an introduction to all the varied cultures.

The drinks and meal were all Dutch based.

Last year was the turn of the Mexicans.  There was a slide show highlighting the  country,  culture and  famous sights.  Margaritas,  Mezcal and a traditional Mexican honey based drink – Xtabentún – were served as pre drinks.  The meal consisted of Quesadillas,  Tortillas, Mole, Frijoles and other spicy delicacies.  All enjoyed to the sounds of Samba and a little bossanova !  After the meal some individuals gave a little turn by singing a song or doing a little dance.  At this point we left but were later informed the evening didn’t really finish until 0430!

Now to 2012 – the turn of the English !

Adrian volunteered to do a presentation on the history of British beer, brewing, pubs and he made a selection of traditional beers for sampling.

The car was loaded up with beer, a projection screen, laptops, various malts, hops and various other beery paraphernalia.


We had a selection of malts on hand for the show’n’tell.

fete-03 - Barley selection

An old gentleman came up and after asking a few questions about the different malts, he recounted his story of wartime occupied France when there was no coffee available – he told us how they used to roast malted barley at home to make a powder to make a coffee substitute.

He had slightly moist eyes at the end of the tale – quite lovely.

fete-03 - Hops

Adrian brought hops from New Zealand, Slovenia and… Blighty!

All quite different and one of them was outrageously skunky.

fete-04 - the small screen glasses and books

On the small screens we had a little running gallery of beer related pictures.

Ancient pubs, drayhorses, beer engines for hand pulled pints. It was suprisingly popular.

A little selection of brewing and beer history books and an introduction to the best drinking vessel in the world. A 568ml dimpled pot! Enough to make a grown man cry.

fete-05 - samples on offer

All the tasters laid out.  In this shot… from the back… our Timothy Taylor clone, an ancient 1750’s London porter, 1840’s IPA and a contemporary recreation of an oatmeal stout clone from Samuel Smiths in Tadcaster.

fete-06 - mrs fod gives good head

The  Oatmeal stout … a big surprise for everyone that tasted it.  Adrian had also germinated some barley to show where the sugars originated from and where his photo publishing debut was inspired from !

fete-07 - IPA to die for

Adrian’s IPA.  There were a few ‘WOW’s and a few people who have no doubt never had anything that bitter in their mouths before!

fete-08 - crowds take their places for dinner

Crowds take their places for supper.  Starter – Mulligatawny soup.  Main – Hot pot, potatoes and carrots with swede.  Desert – Trifle, Victoria Sponge Cake or Banoffee Pie.  Cheese – Jacobs Crackers with  4 different cheeses including Cheddar and Wensleydale. Tea or Coffee.

A lot of elderly people in the village turned out. They didn’t stay for the singing and the dancing.  We left around 0130 as the night was winding down.

fete-09 - god save king george
Other presentations were of the Royal Family past and present with wedding memorabilia from the  most recent royal wedding. A bowler and top hat adorned one table and I had created a slide show of all things British projected onto the screen throughout the evening.  From red telephone boxes to cornish pasties, The Angel of the North to full english breakfasts, Wimbledon to Churchill and many many more.

All in all a very enjoyable evening and hopefully a little eye opener for our French friends and hosts.

Next year – the nationality will be  …. French – not sure what to expect !!








Valentines Day !

A surprise for my Valentine.

Ready for action :-

valentine chocs 01




Elephant sedation device !


valentine chocs 02

You need ALL the pots.  Lots of washing up for your Valentine.

Oh the romance !


valentine chocs 03

First step :-

Molten white chocolate randomly dobbed into the mould.


valentine chocs 04

While the white chocolate is in the fridge setting I made a ganache for the filling.

Molten chocolate, tablespoon of cream, knob of butter and the booze of your choice.

Here I went with home made creme de cassis.  Blackcurrant.


valentine chocs 05

Next up.  Melt the dark chocolate.

Steady does it.  If you over melt it, it will go grainy.  This is bad but it can be re-tempered by “setting” with cooler fresh chocolate  to reseed the finer crystals in it.

The art of the chocolatiere is not to balls it up in the first place!


valentine chocs 06

Line the mould with the molten chocolate – just enough to form a shell.  Then, tap gently to release any air bubbles and then back in the fridge to set.


valentine chocs 07

Next, inject the creamy/boozy/fruity ganache into the shells.  Back into the fridge to set for an hour and then …

smear a sealing coat of chocolate on the bottom to “close” the chocolate and encase the ganache.


valentine chocs 08

Turn ’em out!


valentine chocs 10

We’re not done yet …

We need a frou-frou matching purpley lady box!

Job done !



I never get tired of receiving a Valentines.

Ice Ice-Cream


What else are you going to make when it is -5 at mid-day!

ice ice cream 1

The recipe and method were borrowed from Mr Blumenthal.

1 litre of milk

180g of egg yolks

90g of cane sugar

4 vanilla pods

5 coffee beans


The secret ingredient …

ice ice cream 2 - the snow

Some actual snow !


Ice Ice-cream step one …

Whizz up the yolks and sugar to a fluffy thick airy egg syrup.

ice ice cream 3 beat the eggs


Ice Ice-cream step two …

Boil the milk, coffee beans, the stripped out seeds and husks of the vanilla pods and then cool in the snow to 60C.

If you have no snow, you can sit your pan in an ice bath.

ice ice cream - chilling in the snow


Ice Ice-cream step three …

Mixed the cool (60C) infused milk with the whisked up eggs.  This will partly cook the egg and you will end up with a well set custard.

Heat to 70C for five minutes to pasturise the egg …

then rapidly chill again out in the snow and leave at fridge temperature for 24 hours to allow the flavours to develop.

ice ice cream4 steep


Ice Ice-cream step four …

Put the mixture into an ice-cream maker for as long as it takes to churn it all down into fluffy light -5 pillowy, wallowing icecreamy deliciousness.

Then properly freeze at -18C for a while before tasting.

ice ice cream churned


Ice Ice-cream step five …

The tasting.

It comes out of the freezer quite hard but after 5 minutes at room temperature it is quite malleable like plasticine.

It is not sticky sweet like many icecreams and is much lower in fat.  This is all about the texture and flavour.  It melts … just vanishes on the tongue … much like a sorbet but the texture is silky smooth.

As it warms in the mouth you get a huge vanilla hit and then the back flavour is all about the coffee.  I was stunned at how dominant that was, given that there was just a few beans in it.  Amazing.

ice ice cream first tasting


I have never used this technique before and it is knockout.  Hats off to Heston … the world’s best chef and if you are half minded to buy an amazing cook book then “The Fat Duck Cook-Book” is highly recommended.


We have plenty of visitors booked for this year and I can see that I will be making lots of this.




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