What a pleasure it was to visit our friends at the autumn brocante fair in Bordeaux. Eric and Virginie Bernard, art curators, also have a store selling lovely vintage furniture. Place des Quinconces is a beautiful square overlooking the Garonne river, where you can enjoy, twice a year, a charming antique and brocante market. There’s so much to see and discover, depending on your mood and passion. I was mainly looking for anything linked to the kitchen, and fell madly in love with an old 1950’s butcher table and a rustic dining table in a grey blue tone. I also found a set of festive plates (the ones pictured in the recipes below – twelve euros for twelve plates in perfect condition. Now that’s a steal).
We decided to have lunch together at Eric and Virginie’s stand, after all, it looks like an apartment from the 70’s. I enjoyed seeing all the brocanteurs and antique dealers taking a break, eating alone or with their families and friends. It was such an original sight, seeing each merchant in their ‘lost in time’ environment, from 17th century château style to 70’s groove. One thing everyone had in common was the food. The renowned Dieu sisters, all seven of them, are responsible for most of the meals. This family restaurant ‘on wheels’ has been around for sixty years, serving good old traditional French food. I had a delicious duck confit and a glass of red, my husband Oddur had andouillette sausage with Savoyarde potatoes. The kids had roast chicken, French fries and crème brûlée for dessert.
Virginie introduced us to her neighbour and friend, Bernard Vandevoorde, antiquaire specializing in 17-18th century art and furniture. He is also a fine gourmet, jazz lover and ex-restaurateur for thirty years in the Pyrénées region and Bordeaux. He swept me off my feet with his food stories, especially his technique for roasting lamb in his fireplace. It was only a matter of time until I asked him to share more recipes, especially some of his favourites for the cold days to come. One of them was the garbure des Pyrénées, a rustic vegetable and meat soup. The other dish was the eggs in cocotte à la Bordelaise, a recipe Bernard loves to make when he comes home late hungry for comfort food.
Let me elaborate more on the ‘garbure‘ des Pyrénées. The beauty of this soup is in its simplicity. Coarsely chopped vegetables, white lingots beans, a large chunk of pork knuckle (perhaps also a pig’s tail) and water is all you need to make this traditional soup filled with so many deep rich flavours. The longer you cook it, the better it is, and you can look forward to an even tastier soup the next day. There are so many versions, with duck or sausages. I remember, as a child, the souvenir of eating a similar soup in a little auberge off the roads in Gascony. How intrigued I was when the men poured wine and soak bread into their soup. It’s called ‘faire Chabrol‘ or how to really enjoy your meal. Why don’t you try it!
The eggs en cocotte is a delightful dish, again, so easy to make, you’d wonder why you ever thought cooking French food was so complicated. It takes such little time to make this basic Bordelaise sauce, and let me assure you the smell is captivating. Cooking with wine is not only delicious, but the evaporation of the alcohol is purely enjoyable. The special touch I loved was Bernard’s recommendation to serve both meals with mouilletes (grilled bread) rubbed with garlic.
Merci Bernard pour ces délicieuses recettes! Je me suis régalée!
Bernard’s garbure des Pyrénées (serves 6-8)
4 onions (cut in 4)
5 garlic cloves (cut in half)
6 carrots (cut into sticks)
5 leeks (coarsely chopped)
1 medium-sized Savoy cabbage (chopped in 8 parts)
6 small to medium potatoes (whole)
300 g/ 2/3 pounds white beans (haricots blancs lingots – soaked in water overnight)
1 kg/ 2 pounds pork knuckle/jarret de porc (soaked in water overnight)
1 pig’s tail (optional)
4 tbsp duck fat (you can use butter or olive oil as an alternative)
In a very large pot, melt the duck fat (or olive oil/butter), add all the vegetables (except the potatoes and drained beans) and fry for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the meat (knuckle and pig’s tail), cover with water until all the ingredients are covered. Bring to a soft boil, cover and lower heat. Cook for 3-4 hours. After 3 hours, add the potatoes (whole) and beans. Cook for another hour, or until the beans and potatoes are cooked and tender. Serve as a generous soup, filled with vegetables and meat. Serve immediately with grilled bread. To add extra flavor, rub a garlic clove on the bread.
Eggs in cocotte à la Bordelaise
1 garlic clove (minced finely)
3 small shallots (chopped very finely)
250 ml/ 1 cup red Bordeaux wine
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 garlic glove (for rubbing)
Salt & black pepper for seasoning
Preheat oven to 210°C/ 400 F
For the sauce:
In a saucepan, melt the butter, add minced garlic and shallots, fry for 3-4 minutes, until slightly golden and soft. Add the wine, 1/2 tsp sugar and leave to reduce by half on a medium to low heat (this should take approx. 6-8 minutes).
Rub the inside of the ramekin/ cocotte/ oven-proof pot with the garlic clove and crack the eggs into the recipient. Pour piping hot Bordelaise sauce onto the eggs, season with salt and pepper, and place in oven for 5-7 minutes, until the eggs are poached (you want your eggs slightly runny).
Serve immediately with grilled bread. To add extra flavor, rub the remaining garlic clove on the bread.