Playing in French Gardens

Leaving Paris, John and I reflected on how none of the Wwoofing farms we had experienced really gave us the food experience we were looking for. I suppose I wanted something where all food was grown on site and every meal was just a bonanza of fresh garden ingredients. Well, we came at the wrong time of year for that, and now that it was the time for harvest, we were heading to a goat farm. Alas, we would have to plan our timing better for the next country.

So arriving to Therese and Wladek’s in Lamure-sur-Azurges, would you believe that we finally stumbled upon the garden experience we’d been seeking? They aren't affiliated with Wwoofing, yet here was this huge backyard garden, just begging to be picked through and loved.
Hello, darling. View from the kitchen window...
Our lodgings for the week
And so we got our wish.

And we also were granted the wish that is ever-present upon our hearts: an abundant supply of cheese.

It’s like living with angels when you’re staying with someone who deals in cheese production.

Before we even unpacked Therese had gifted us with this amazing heart of a raw cow & goat cheese blend, which we quickly consumed to try to make it part of our own hearts. Therese pointed out something interesting, as John and I had noted the same thing many times in our travels: sometimes the French are quite resistant to culinary change. Like when she planned to mix cow and goat milk in a cheese, the idea was met with much with incredulity by many.
raw french cheese
Look closely and you can see the layers. And fear not, the mold is encouraged  to grow on the cheese for flavor. (FYI, as a general rule, only worry about black mold on cheese)
In the same way that cheese is always eaten after dinner or peanut butter is immediately regarded as an evil American scheme (that is, until the Chowgypsy forces you to taste it for the first damn time), you simply don’t mix milks in a cheese. But victory! This cheese is a masterpiece, and reaches success among all the cheese’s vendors.  The creamy, rich cow milk is a perfect balance to the tangy barnyard flavor of raw goat milk.

So, how did we find these amazing people if not through Wwoofing? John's parents, of course. And I suspect that Sukie was the active force behind this connection--that woman knows how to make friends. Therese and Wladek are friends of freinds, and although they've yet to meet David & Sukie, the affection is strong enough to get us yet another beautiful French farm to explore. Therese, I’ll mention, is not fully French, she has the musical accent of a native South African, but has lived in France for most of her life and includes French and Polish in her accomplished language repertoire. Her husband, Wladek, is a French-born Polish man.
farm france
Can you smell the cheese?
They began making cheese from scratch about 22 years ago and have been up to their ears in the stuff ever since at La Ferme de l'Anneau d'Or (The Golden Ring Farm), albeit with much-increased success and several other partners to help run the farm of 120 goats and 25 cows. It’s a tough schedule, starting at 6am and ending often not until 12 hours later, but with a two hour break for lunch and a siesta. With all this work stuff going on, our lovely hosts don’t have much time to enjoy their garden or make meals from it, so John and I were happily appointed as temporary chefs. I love you, symbiosis.

Our best meal so far has been meatloaf (provided by a very unlucky sterile bull from their farm), a side of green bean casserole using their goat cheese in a bechamel, and my chocolate bark for dessert.
Oh gross, is that ketchup on there?
Hey, it's American meatloaf. Back off.
Take a good look at these babies (and note how the
purple ones turn green as you cook them--magic!)
Made with a roux from 2 jars of fresh, raw cow milk from the farm, a few wheels of fresh goat cheese, and
baguette bread crumbs
Excuse me, but you're kind of a fool if you don't make this. Just melt a chocolate bar using the double-boiler method, pour it into a mold lined with wax paper (I didn't have a mold so I used a plate), and throw on whatever you want. I used mixed nuts, chopped dates, and French sea salt, because salt belongs on chocolate bark.
We took our expertly crafted dinner over to a friend's house and John nearly had to be tranquilized to abate his hunger
We’ve also experimented with preserving green beans and cucumber relish with the garden surplus. If they're a success, I'll post the recipe...but we must wait for the pickling to finish...
A bounty worth working for
More to come soon on ways to entertain yourself in the middle of nowhere, France!
Beans at the ready

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  1. looks good! i have not been eating much cheese, except for the occasional "queso" at Mexican Joints but I must say, temptation rears its moldy head here...Bon apetit!

  2. this queso thing is a problem...tell me where you are and I can tell you where to go/what to buy :)

  3. Well, I can vouch for that meal. Delicious! Kate tried to make that chocolate but was not so successful. I told her not to add butter!




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