Le dîner chez nous.

That's the bottle of wine, a wild boar saucisson, and the melty Mont d'or.  You can just see a bit of the Roquefort I used for the sauce as well.
That’s the bottle of wine, a wild boar saucisson, and the melty Mont d’or. You can just see a bit of the Roquefort I used for the sauce as well.

That’s French for dinner at home, in case you were wondering.  Which is what we do most nights- we don’t eat out that often- but last night’s dinner at home was special.  Eating well is part of the story of our time in France, a very important part of the story, and so I just want to write this little bit down so I can remember it.  And so, you get to know about it too.

We’ve been hanging on to this one particular bottle of wine for two months now, waiting for the right moment to open it.  Our time here is getting short, so we kind of decided it was now or never and made our own special occasion.  This bottle of wine is special for several reasons:  our Norwegian friends bought it for us while they were here, and spent WAY more money on it than we usually do.  And, this particular bottle was a grand cru, the best wine made from the best grapes of Burgundy.  It was a 2006 Echezeaux, from the Caves Réunies du Couvent des Cordoliers du 13eme Siecle, in case that means anything to you.  It does now to me.

We didn’t do much- who needs to, when you have a wine this good?  I simply warmed a round of Mont d’or cheese, sliced some baguette, cooked some of those skinny little French green beans, and sauteed a couple of steaks (the local charolais, of course) in a pan.  I did cave to the Pilot’s wishes and make a blue cheese sauce (and it turned out delicious!), but that was it.  As far as I’m concerned, we could have stopped at the Mont d’or and baguette.

I’ve often thought that the world of wine can seem a little pretentious.  I’m not a wine snob, and I really don’t know that much about it- I drink what I like, and think you can find a perfectly good wine for a reasonable cost.  But then, a wine like this comes along to show that you do get what you pay for.  There are no words to describe how delicious this was.

The French certainly do know how to live…

I feel the same way about this that I do about the Mont d’or cheese:  if you are a wine lover, then do yourself a favor, at least once, and try a Burgundy grand cru.  You won’t regret it.

Market at St. Honoré les Bains.

These lovely, hand-made saucissons were on display this morning at my favorite cheese stand.  Also for sale here is the world's tastiest butter.
These lovely, hand-made saucissons were on display this morning at my favorite cheese stand. Also for sale here is the world’s tastiest butter.

The market at St. Honoré is hands-down my favorite market around.  And I’ve tried lots of them, so I should know.

Today was market day in our town, Moulins-Engilbert.  Our town is the center for Charolais cows and all that concerns them, and the market here is very interesting and quite nice as well.  But really, I prefer for my markets to be all about food.  All the clothing and stuff just get in the way of what I’m really there for.

And that is cheese.

And other foods too, yes.  But cheese… I’m starting to dream of all things fromage these days, and beginning to worry as well, as our return to the US becomes imminent.  What will I do with no access to époisses affiné?  Or mont d’or?  I’m not really sure.

So today, I took a few pictures of my favorite cheese stand as well as a few other vendors, in order to help with withdrawals or when I start missing cheese too much.  At least I can revisit these photographs and smile fondly…IMG_2668

But there are other things to remember about this market as well.  After all, it was here that I picked up my turkey extraordinaire for this year’s Thanksgiving feast.  And there’s also the cheerful lady who sells wonderful fresh vegetables.  Oh, and the lady who brings her truck in with a few selected fresh chickens or guinea fowl, and fresh eggs.  I got a chicken from her one week, and it was pretty fantastic.  No, the market at St.  Honoré doesn’t have any of the extras like wool socks or tablecloths, but I think that it’s the simplicity of it that makes me like it so much.  I can walk right up to my favorite stands without having to wade through loads of traffic or being pestered to buy cough drops to help vaccinate circus animals (and how can you say no to that?)  Nope.  Just food, and the best of it, at that.  Of course, I still haven’t managed to take any photos- it’s just too intense for me when I’m here and I am on a MISSION, which is probably the reason my children no longer want to come with me to this one.  Lucky for me, though, some of my favorite vendors were at our town’s market today, and I was able to get a few good shots in spite of the near freezing weather and nasty mix of rain and snow.  Mostly of cheese…

Then once we get this stuff from this lovely market home?  Well, my 9 year old has decided he really likes to cook.  He has proclaimed himself in charge of chopping ALL vegetables, which slows things down a bit but is so worth it!  He’s become quite good at caramelizing onions, and loves to deglaze a pan for a sauce.  Eggs are truly his forte as well as his favorite thing both to make and to eat, but he excels at spaghetti carbonara as well.  It’s such fun to see him applying his typical intensity to getting the mushroom sauce just right.

And thus my homegrown French immersion course has expanded to include cooking classes as well!  This is working out quite well for me, I’d say.

To further your cheese education (and I’m all about a good education!):  http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/epoisses-affine/

And this one:  http://www.pongcheese.co.uk/shop/vacherin-mont-dor.html  If you are a cheese lover, then you truly haven’t lived till you’ve put a Mont d’or, in its little wooden box, into the oven for 15 minutes and then dipped some nice crusty baguette into it.

Look at these lovely little goat cheeses!
Look at these lovely little goat cheeses!
The saucisson man will definitely put the hard sell on you, but he's so nice about it!  My husband and son adore saucissons, my daughter despises them.  I am somewhere in the middle.
The saucisson man will definitely put the hard sell on you, but he’s so nice about it! My husband and son adore saucissons, my daughter despises them. I am somewhere in the middle.