The French do not tolerate food waste

The fact that it is the French setting the precedent and a Frenchman, Arash Derambarsh, a municipal councilor who has persuaded French MP’s to adopt the regulation of forcing French Supermarkets to donate unwanted food to charity, does not surprise us here at ‘le Calabash’

We are witness each and every day to the fact that French have inborn respect for the value of food and do not tolerate food waste at all.

It is a shocking statistic that we waste close to 1.3bn tonnes of food annually, and this in the Western World. It is even more shocking to know that there are people loving on the doorstep of this waste, who do not know where their next meal will arrive from.  In Europe alone we look at the staggering figure of 89mtonnes of food waste a year, 67% of it by consumers, 15% by Restaurants and 11% by Shops.

This is not the case in France, where it is 42% by consumers, 17% by restaurants and 41% by shops; this tells the story in its self.

We have single mothers with several children, pensioners, and public workers on low salaries, refugees and those living on the streets or in shelters who need to be fed and helped as they are in positions not chosen by them.

The French Amendment as part of the wider law will bar supermarkets from throwing away food approaching best-before dates and deliberately poisoning products with bleach to stop them being retrieved by people foraging through bins.

The rest of the world should take note of this; especially those in power who I am sure do not know the meaning of being hungry is. The corporate world has a lot to answer for and should be accountable for their actions in many instances. Price fixing, bulling of farmers and food producers and irresponsible advertising are just a few of the many that come to mind.

Food is the basis of life; it is an elementary factor of our existence. Perhaps it is naïve to be concerned about other human beings, but I know what it is like to be hungry. As a young kid I worked as a kitchen hand and lived in my car as my wages were so low that I could not afford three meals a day.

Check out : Arash Derambarsh http://m.fayard.fr/manifeste-contre-le-gaspillage-darash-derambarsh

Congratulations to Zevenwacht Wine Estate!

A huge congratulations to my friends at Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Cape Town! Their 2015 Chardonnay was recently included on the prestigious wine list at La Promenade in the Loire Valley, France. The South African wine is the first non-French wine ever to be included on the Michelin star restaurant’s list. Read the rest of the details in the press release below.

I became acquainted with Zevenwacht Wine Estate on our African Culinary and Wildlife Adventure through Le Calabash. The estate is host to accommodations and Le Calabash’s teaching kitchen during the culinary portion of the tour. It’s a tour that I highly recommend from personal experience.

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Michelin Star Restaurant La Promenade of France offers the 2015 Chardonnay from Zevenwacht Wine Estate of South Africa on Prestigious Wine List

Zevenwacht Wine Estate of Stellenbosch, South Africa announces that Michelin star restaurant La Promenade Maison Dallais in the Le Petit-Pressigny, France now offers their 2015 Chardonnay as part of the restaurant’s wine list. This is the first non-French produced wine ever included on the 30-year old Loire Valley restaurant’s wine list.

“The Zevenwacht Chardonnay is a refreshing change to the Chardonnays we have on our wine list – it is subtly woodsy, crisp, and delicately fruity,” says Xavier Fortin, sommelier at La Promenade. “It’s an excellent choice to go with our ‘Racan’ Chicken dish as well as a great choice with a white fish dish. The wine would even pair well with a chocolate or pear dish from La Promenade’s dessert menu.”

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“We at Zevenwacht are ecstatic with this result. Being the only non-French wine on the list makes it so much more of an achievement,” says Denise Johnson, Director of Zevenwacht Wine Estate.

The wine is produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes that were hand harvested in January of 2015, a month earlier than normal. The grapes come from two different vineyards on the historic Zevenwacht Wine Estate in the Polkadraai Hills of Stellenbosch, South Africa. The winemaker planted both vineyards in 2005 on southwest facing slopes between 200-320 meters above sea level. The elevated slopes lend a natural acidity to the wine, which results in a pleasant pungency and longevity. The open canopies of the vineyards help produce a wine that is rich and full-bodied, and the decomposed granite soil adds a flinty minerality. The Chardonnay was finished in oak barrels at a blend of 20% first fill, 60% second fill, and 20% third fill in French oak barrels.

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Le Calabash Petit Conservatoire de la Cuisine, located in Yzeures-sur-Creuse, France, partners with both La Promenade and Zevenwacht on its culinary tourism programs. La Promenade hosts the farewell dinner for Le Calabash’s French Culinary Adventure. Le Calabash also offers an African Culinary and Wildlife Adventure in South Africa and utilizes Zevenwacht for both accommodations and the site of Le Calabash’s teaching kitchen.

Chef Sidney Bond of Le Calabash is excited to see La Promenade and Zevenwacht work together. “Both the chef and the sommelier at La Promenade are highly respected in the Loire Valley, and the fact that they have chosen this wine is really important to us at Le Calabash as we just opened our cookery school at Zevenwacht Wine Estate. There is a lot of interest in Cape Town’s wines and food now. As a friend and fellow South African, I am proud of Jacques Viljoen, the cellar master and wine maker, and of Zevenwacht Wine Estate.”

Bryan Richards is a craft beer, food, and travel writer. When he’s not following his taste buds around the globe, he enjoys exploring the local craft beer scene in Charlotte, experimenting in the kitchen with his wife, and spending time with his one-year old son. His writing has appeared in Craft Beer, TripIt, and Charlotte Parent. The Wandering Gourmand provides a behind the scenes look at his craft beer and food explorations.

Foie Gras, a symbol of French gastronomy

Foie gras is certainly a great symbol of French gastronomy, it is one of the populations favorite luxurious dishes and it belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France. The King of France, Louis XVI, once proclaimed Foie Gras as “The Dish of Kings.” Concretely, Foie gras is the liver of a duck or a goose that has been fattened. As a commodity, it isn’t eaten every day but for special occasions.

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Most French people savor Foie gras especially for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Here at le Calabash we cook with a fair amount of Foie Gras. Sidney has two popular dishes that he enjoys sharing :

  • Foie Gras with Edith’s Chutney, Brioche Toast paired with a Sauternes Wine.
  • Duck Confit with a Cep Risotto topped with pan seared Foie gras, a Balsamic glaze paired with a Touraine Sauvignon Blanc.

A French Culinary Adventure

On a French Culinary Adventure with le Calabash you will embark on a second to none Culinary Adventure, including hands on cooking classes with Alison and Sidney, two professional award-winning chefs.
You will go behind the scenes, meet the local producers and discover their secrets and stories, including cheese, wine and the local markets. You will also discover many of the Loire Valley’s most renowned sites, such as the Châteaux de la Loire and the historical city of Tours.

Book now on our website www.lecalabash.com

Experience the new French Culinary Adventure, by Bryan Richards

As Chef Sidney Bond of Le Calabash often says when talking about current affairs, “It’s a mad world that we live in.” With terrorist events stretching from Brussels to California to Bangladesh, I couldn’t agree with him more. Yet, as I sat in Le Calabash’s authentic French country kitchen getting ready to enjoy A French Culinary Adventure’s welcome dinner, a Taste of the Loire Valley, I couldn’t feel further away from that madness.

Le Calabash continues to improve their world renowned culinary programs. Take a look at what’s in store on their new French Culinary Adventure itinerary!

On the first day of the tour, my group gathered in the “old stable,” the 380-year-old converted barn that now houses Le Calabash’s modern country teaching kitchen.

Chefs Alison and Sidney Bond greeted us with a sparkling wine cocktail of Clermont de Loire with a local cassis as we went through the customary introductions. Nerves were high as strangers stated their names and hometowns. My particular group consisted of students hailing from the United States, Dubai, England, and South Africa.

We then descended into the dining room of the “Old Stable,” where the long wooden table, with enough seating for us plus our hosts, was covered with classic French country dishes ready to introduce us to what Le Calabash had in store over the coming week. With the assistance of locally produced wine, our group became better acquainted as we discussed the dishes and our backgrounds.

Much like everyone in our group, each dish and ingredient came with its own story. The mushrooms were foraged from woods not far from Le Calabash’s hamlet, the St Maure goat cheese was locally produced under the same methods for centuries, and a selection of charcuterie like rillettes and pâtés came from local producers.

Le Calabash continues to improve their world renowned culinary programs. Take a look at what’s in store on their new French Culinary Adventure itinerary!

The next morning, we continued the culinary journey with our first lesson in the kitchen.

One of the changes to the 2016 itinerary is a deeper focus on cooking with seasonal ingredients that can be replicated in our own homes. The lesson begins with a tutorial on butchering and cooking poultry. The French approach cooking poultry as an art, from selecting the proper breed to the final preparation. The outcome of the lesson is Le Calabash’s Gold Medal dish, Chicken Supreme with an Herb Farcé, Confit Leg, Pomme Fondant, and a Jus Roti.

Le Calabash continues to improve their world renowned culinary programs. Take a look at what’s in store on their new French Culinary Adventure itinerary!

Having attended several similar culinary vacations in the past, I liked how Le Calabash’s lessons covered both proper techniques and specific meal preparation. The takeaway was more than a dish to impress your friends back home, but lessons on how to improve general kitchen skills. For example, you don’t just learn how to cook a bourgignon style turbot with baby onions and a red wine sauce served over wilted spinach, you also learn how to identify whether or not the fish from your market is indeed fresh.

Le Calabash continues to improve their world renowned culinary programs. Take a look at what’s in store on their new French Culinary Adventure itinerary!

The challenges in the kitchen seem to grow each day, culminating with Alison’s take on the classic le Vacherin. Creating the multi-layered dessert is a team effort and aids in the self-confidence building process and cultural exchange. You’ll find yourselves celebrating successes or laughing if the dish doesn’t turn out quite right like mine did (I don’t do desserts).

Le Calabash continues to improve their world renowned culinary programs. Take a look at what’s in store on their new French Culinary Adventure itinerary!

There is also plenty of adventure outside of the kitchen.

While the main focus of a French Culinary Adventure is inside the kitchen, a good portion of the learning takes place in the surrounding region. The Loire Valley is considered the breadbasket of France – a country rich in culinary traditions.

The Loire Valley is home to the finest goat cheeses in the world, France’s second largest truffle region, the country’s largest supplier of fresh water fish, La Géline de Touraine chickens, and the largest wine region of France.  Much of that bounty can be seen on the trip to the Tours Farmers Market, one of the finest in France. Other culinary related excursions include a trip to a goat cheese farm and a vineyard in Chinon.

Outside of the culinary related field trips mentioned above, the tour visits a few historic sites. After the market visit in Tours, Sidney then leads the group on a tour of some of the city’s historic sites including the Basilique de St-Martin, a stop on the great pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, and the Cathédrale St-Gatien, where Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne’s two children are buried.

In addition, you’ll have a chance to visit the Château of Villandry, a world heritage site. The Château is steeped in French history. It’s where King Philip II of France and King Richard I of England brokered a peace deal. It’s also where Napoleon’s brother Jérôme lived during the French Revolution. Today it stands as a beautiful artifact from the past with luscious green gardens that beg exploration.

There is also some downtime scheduled to either relax on the grounds of Château Valcreuse, your accommodations for the trip, or to bike into the nearby village of La Roche Posay. The château offers plenty to do from strolls along the river to a game of boules in the garden or a dip in the sparkling pool, and La Roche Posay boasts a world-renowned spa and plenty of quaint shops to browse.

Le Calabash continues to improve their world renowned culinary programs. Take a look at what’s in store on their new French Culinary Adventure itinerary!

The trip wraps up with a certificate presentation and sparkling champagne at Le Calabash.

It’s always a teary-eyed event as students say farewell to new friends and celebrate all they accomplished over the previous week from learning new skills in the kitchen to understanding and experiencing a new way of life. A way of life that is foreign to so many of us in our fast-paced lifestyles but necessary to experience and incorporate into our routines for our well-being.

After the ceremony, the group celebrates one last dinner together at Michelin stared La Promenade Restaurant. As you linger over every last bite of exquisite French cuisine, you’ll look around the room at friendships formed over diverse backgrounds and long for the slow country lifestyle and fine eating to continue forever.

Le Calabash continues to improve their world renowned culinary programs. Take a look at what’s in store on their new French Culinary Adventure itinerary!

Yes, we may live in a mad world, but the experience of learning through camaraderie and food breaks down those barriers. The immersion into the French way of life and the experience of working with others across diverse cultures teaches you that the world isn’t quite so mad after all. You all of a sudden find comfort in traveling and food. At least this is how I felt when I completed my French Culinary Adventure.

Bryan Richards is a food, travel, and craft beer writer. He has a passion for exploring regional food and drink and enjoys encouraging readers to discover new places and tastes in a way that inspires curiosity and motivation.  For more info, please visit The Wandering Gourmand.

Alison’s Apple Tarte Tatin

Come on a second to none gourmet trip : A French Culinary Adventure at le Calabash and enjoy hands-on cookery classes with award-winning chefs, Alison and Sidney.

This famous Tart takes its name from the Tatin sisters Stéphanie and Caroline—who, in the 1880s, owned a hotel near the train station in the small French town of Lamotte-Beuvron. The sisters were busy in the kitchen and nearly burned some apples they were cooking with butter and sugar in a pan on the stovetop. To save them, they hastily threw some of their delicate flaky pastry top of the apples. The tart dough cooked evenly and the apples caramelized, forming a glaze. And when the dessert was turned right side up, it was a glistening tart to behold.

Ingredients

  • 8 Apples
  • 170g caster sugar
  • Puff pastry
  • 50g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method

  1. Heat the caster sugar in a heavy based saucepan and cook very gently until the caramel is golden.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the cubed butter stirring well until it is completely incorporated.
  3. Pour a layer of caramel on the base of a tatin pan.
  4. Peel and core the apples and cut them into six and place them evenly on top of the caramel close together.
  5. Sprinkle the apples with sugar and knobs of butter, about 30g of each.
  6. Drape a circle of pastry over the top of the apples, then tuck in well to completely encase the apples. Leave to rest in a cool place for 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Dust the pastry with a little icing sugar and bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 1 minute to let the caramel cool and set slightly. Turn the tart upside down so that it ends up apple side upwards on the plate.
  9. Serve with a rich vanilla bean ice cream.

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www.lecalabash.com

Rungis International Market


Alison and I visit Rungis several times a year and each and every visit we leave filled with inspiration.

Rungis is a dream to any culinary adventurer, a world class fish market, poultry hall, cheese monger market, tripe market, 9 fruit and vegetable pavilions and meat market, just to mention a few.

The market boasts equipment, wine, spice, charcuterie, chef clothing and several fine food specialists for the chefs to visit. There are fine dining restaurants, bistros, boulangeries, bars and cafés on site. The market covers 232 hectares, so large an entire train station and highway exit has been built to serve it.

The Fish, Poultry and Meat market are second to none, when it comes to sheer quality and choice.

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What has always inspired me is the deep knowledge the vendors have of what they sell and the willingness to share and help you in finding what you are looking for.

Walking through the poultry market excites me as much now as it did when I visited the old poultry market there in the mid-70s as a young trainee chef, for nowhere on the planet is there a finer and larger selection of chicken, duck and game birds. Speaking to one of the Poultry vendors on our last visit, he informed us that at present he is airfreighting around 2 tons of produce a day to Japan alone.

When I was Executive chef of Hilton and Le Méridien hotels in London, as well as team captain of The British Craft Guild Culinary Team, I made it a point to take my young chefs on a visit to Paris and an intensive tour of the whole of Rungis.

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This would normally find us leaving London at midday and arriving in Paris and the market at midnight and starting off at the Fish market which opens at midnight and finally ending with a walk through the 9 fruit and vegetable halls at 6.30am, before having breakfast at the bistro attached to the poultry market, sitting down having a Croque Madame and a glass of wine with all the vendors and staff who worked all night. I always refer to them as ‘Real People’ as there is not veneer, what you see is what you get, straightforwardness, no time for fools, hardworking and respect for those who know what they want when it comes to good ingredients, and a knowledge of how the produce should be prepared, for you can be assured, they know! On more than one occasion have I been witness to Chefs making a fool of themselves when underestimating the vendor’s in-depth knowledge of cookery.

It was here that I would always take the opportunity to take careful note of the enthusiasm and interest taken by my young chefs as we passed through each of the halls and pavilions.

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Inevitably the interest and enthusiasm was a sure way of identifying their place in my brigade and the part they would play in it.

Passion and Ingredients are the two key elements needed for success in any reputable kitchen, and where better than Rungis could I identify them.

A young or aspiring chef’s hunger to grasp the knowledge and ability to identify good ingredients is a sure sign of the presence of Passion and inevitably a good indication of a young chef who is serious about his chosen career.

It was and still is the place where I take this opportunity.

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