"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china."

Charles Dickens

February 9, 2011

Matin des Pyrénées: France in a Jar

Tucked away in a box of jams, brought from New Hampshire (yes, I tend to hoard jams and gourmet products, but also make them, too––I'm a sucker for a great label and a good import!), I found a jar of "Matin des Pyrénées" Clementine Marmalade. [I also found another of "Rose Petal Jam," from this same brand, that I'm saving for an upcoming "cottage warming" tea with friends.] I believe the literal translation, is "Morning in the Pyrénées," a chain of mountains between France and Spain.

A cup of hot chocolate and a slice of divine chocolate cake at L.A. Burdick.
I'm certain that I got these jars on one of many trips with friends to the fabulous Walpole Grocery right down from L.A. Burdick in Walpole, New Hampshire. Both venues are operated by the same group and feature gourmet offerings, and fine dining and coffee––and the best chocolate––in one small New England village location. A far cry from how rural New Hampshire was when I was growing up, but something I'd come to love and embrace in later years.

Fresh berries in February at Walpole Grocery in Walpole, NH.
Walpole Grocery is a tiny little store with the most amazing produce––year round––cheeses, meats, and specialty gourmet products that can be hard to find when living in the country. It wasn't the kind of place I'd shop every week but several times a year we'd all crave Walpole runs and happily make the scenic hour-plus drive for lunch, shopping and a requisite stop at Stan's [also known as "Stans Dented Cans"] in nearby Westmoreland. And then easily be back for school pick-ups or the dinner hour. I miss those jaunts! [Of course on my last trip to New Hampshire, last February in fact, I went three times in one week!]


My husband loves marmalade and the other day we decided to open this jar to have with English muffins. What had we been waiting for, any way? The ingredients are just clementine juice and rinds, sugar and pectin. It tastes like sunshine in a jar and the label, and entire experience, reminds me of the month I spent in des Hautes Alpes in southeastern France––just above Provence and between the large market towns of Gap and Sisteron––with my great-aunt Pat and her family.

Serres is in des Hautes Alpes, just north of the Provence region of France.

Aunt Pat was my grandmother's twin sister and had moved to France to become a sculptress in the 1930s where she married a Frenchman. During the war she fled to the United States, barely getting across the French border ahead of the Nazis, with her young daughter in tow, and pregnant with her second. After the war she returned to France and purchased a very old multi-story medieval building in the little village of Serres. She lived at the very top of it, while renting the apartments below or reserving them for family. [As far as I know, her daughter, my cousin Anne, still owns it.] From my bedroom window you could practically reach out and touch the house across the street, while the town clock rang hourly, also in view.

Flickr photo showing a typical Serres street scene.
Upon the hill behind Serres were a series of small, terraced gardens owned by people in the town. The entire town is built facing south to maximize the Mediterranean climate. We would often have tea in her little garden (or an herbal tisane) and drink in the warm, dry sun of April in France. It was such a tonic. Our breakfasts usually consisted of some good bread, or croissants, with cheese and jam, or a bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts and apples chopped into it. Of course there was the requisite bowl of chocolat or café au lait. French food is beautiful in its simplicity and yet complex in flavor and sensory experience.

So I just wanted to share the power of something opened, on a cold winter day, with more snow, in February. Call it Kitchen-Cupboard Travel! It is fun to conjure up such experiences again from my Kentucky kitchen––I am grateful to have had them and it makes being fixed, more or less, in one place at midlife more manageable.

You come back when you're ready!

Catherine

NOTE: Wally's, in Los Angeles, is the only place, on-line, that I could find these products. I'm sure they can also be found at many gourmet shops across the nation. I'm working on using up our jam stores and will be making more this summer––so not likely to be buying any in the near future.

11 comments:

  1. What a lovely trip to take in my head on such a dreadful, snowy day. Thanks for the pictures, both in my mind's eye and on your blog.

    Joberta

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  2. Mmmm, it all looks wonderful. My mind (and blog) was in France today too:) Au revoir!

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  3. Catherine: My grandparents lived in an old farm house, in Rockingham, just across the street from the Vermont Country Store, so we always stopped at Burdicks for a hot chocolate and mouse on our way to or from. And ... every time we go home, a visit is still on our "must do" list. We've even been known to eat their hot chocolate mix right out of the bag with a spoon (Shameful!)and everyone who visits us here in Atlanta knows that a bag from Burdicks is the required admission ticket from the north to the south side of the Mason Dixon line.

    I adore your blog!Destiny

    P.S. The first time I went to Burdicks, when they were in that teeny, tiny, building Ken Burns was sitting there. It was a wonderful treat to engage him in conversation for just a minute. He is brilliant!

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  4. I was struggling with Google, trying to find Matin des Pyrénées jams when I stumbled across your delightful and entertaining blog. I must mark this as one of my "favorites". So rarely do I find blogs that not only entertain me but inform me. Thank you for a rare pleasure!

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  5. I guess we all have France, chocolate and good food on our minds today--not to mention, better weather!

    And Michael, thank you for visiting. I appreciate your kind words. I hope my link was a help to you. I also recommend the jam highly with good bread and cheese! And your favorite wine, of course. [Any recommendations?]

    Bon Appétit!

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  6. Les bons amis et la bonne nourriture vont bien avec seulement du meilleur vin.

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  7. Michel, OUI! C'est bon et très vrai, mon ami!

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  8. Nous devons discuter le vin et la France bientôt. Je vais à Paris de nouveau bientôt. Je n'ai pas été là est plusieurs années et j'attends avec intérêt avril à Paris. Croissants, bon fromage, bon vin, bon chocolat, et escargot.

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  9. Michel, tous Français est magnifique!

    And that's about all I can say right now without consulting a translator!

    And I should add, too, that next time you go to Paris, take me with you!

    Your country mouse friend,

    Catherine

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  10. Je vous porterai à Paris si vous me ferez les bourrages faits maison fins et me les enverrez. Vous devez également pouvoir suivre moi et Geoffrey quand nous buvons du vin et mangeons l'escargot.

    Oui, we will go to Paris. Won't your excellent husband be jealous?

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  11. OK, it's a deal. Send me your address and I'll send you some preserves! [And my husband will only be jealous if Geoffrey comes along, too, and feeds me escargots.]

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