Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Great fresh and local food

I've realized coming back home that we are really not eating right. The way that we eat and purchase food doesn't encourage us to eat healthy. I was hoping while on vacation that we'd be able to tuck in some great dinners out at little bistros, or brasseries or maybe even a lunch meal at a really nice michelin starred restaurant ( just to try it out), but alas because of the children's schedule, it was not going to work. At best, we ate out once, in Nice and it was nice but rushed. The rest of the time, we were fortunate to have home cooked traditional French meals and simple meals at our flat. We took turns cooking and even the simple pasta that Ja made was delicious and perfect for the setting. With Delphine and Wilfried, we had raclette ( wow - really really good!), it's kind of a cheese fondue but not as rich. We had chocolate fondue, which you'll see was one of Courtney's favorites. We had a french style picnic, we had beef bourguignon, another amazing roasted beef dish - which was so tender that Courtney and the other kids gobbled up. The rest of the time, we ate the most amazing vegetables. I wish now that I had taken pictures of what was in front of us. On the last day, I dashed up to the market with Courtney and showed her the 9 varieties of potatoes. 9. I told her that we had 3 kinds...red, brown and yellow. Amazing. On the other days, we had fantastic bread and baguettes with amazing butter. Yes, I let myself go and had butter everyday! We did have some cheese, but not as much as I'd expect...I think it was because it was just the two of us and there was just so much more to try. I think my favorite might be the fresh seafood that we had. Fished the morning and sold a couple of hours later. It was so fresh. I have no idea what fish we had, but it was delicious. I also decided to try and cook up some coquille st. jacques and they were amazing...as expected. I can understand why some people fish as I'm beginning to realized that seafood, good seafood, on the whole is expensive. Just to give you an idea, I think for the 8 coquilles and 2 fish steaks, it was around 35 euros. At about 1.8 to get to C$, a bit much, but we did get 2 meals out of it for the 3 of us. On the way into Nice, along the sea, we noticed that people were fishing just off the shore. Some had 3 fishing poles in the water, anchored into the sandy beach. Some had dozens. I can see how that might work out...fresh free fish...why wouldn't you spend the time waiting on a sunny day near azure waters for the fish to bite. But, I'm getting off topic here. So, the seafood was probaby the best, followed by the produces and fruits, and then the breads. I'm a carb. lover and will always have a soft spot for white bread, so I was in heaven.

Here is Courtney, discovering Chocolate fondue with fruit. I've told her that fondue is only a french thing...I wonder how till she figures out otherwise.





But, back to the way we should eat.

In France, we ate fresh, local and bought groceries for our immediate meals every 2 days or even daily. It was a way of eating, to go to the market or the the fishmonger and see what the daily's best was. You bought what you needed with no thought really of leftovers. You ate for the moment, for what you needed, for what you craved and very very little was packaged. Usually, when I travel, I love to hit the grocery stores, to see what neat packaged goodies I can bring back home. Maybe, I'm older, a different person ( probably all those things), but even when I was in the grocery store, I didn't browse, I picked up what I needed. Oh, I was tempted to stall, the check out things that looked different, interesting and would no doubt promise an adventure in cooking at home. But, all the freshness made me realize that that is why there is packaging. To make something that is less desirable ( or should be) than fresh whole food be tasty, tempting, and eaten.

So, as the smell of spring becomes more and more undeniable, I will try to eat fresher this summer. With the bounty of goodness coming into season and entire markets for me to explore, I'm going to try and create a little bit of France in the ho hundrum of suburbia. First stop, Toronto's St. Lawrence market. I know...I can't believe I haven't even been there yet - since moving back to Ontario.

Oh, and if you think Jeremy was left out in all this...no worries, he got to try some amazing pears, again not sure what they were, but they weren't like any we'd had here - their stems were painted red to distinguish them from a boring bartless or bosc. Some nice fish fillets too - what a way to try fish for the first time. And...despite the potential of egg allergie...he had snippets of baguette. He loved the bread sticks!...et quelle prix!

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