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

We reflect on Ingredients after visiting Lyon and The Bocuse d’Or

As always, Alison and I made our way to Lyon and what we believe to be the pinnacle of culinary competitions on the international stage, The Bocuse d’Or which is held every second year here in France at the Sirha Food Expedition.

This year it was the USA that walked away with this prestigious trophy for the first time in the history of the competition and well deserved it was. France came away with the Gold and are Pastry Champions of the world.

Over the two days we spent in Lyon we made the effort of eating at restaurants around the city and visiting Les Halles Food Market and the Sunday market in the city centre. Les Halles was as always, a fantastic experience and we were in awe at how the locals were enjoying the fresh oysters with a glass of Champagne for breakfast and doing their food shopping taking their time to choose ingredients and chat to the vendors. It was so evident that this was a weekly ritual and that the importance of Fresh, Local and Seasonal Ingredients was paramount to their decision of what to buy.

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For many years now, the title of best chefs, cuisine and restaurants, belongs to no country as there are great chefs in every country and judging by the rather dubious awards and

listings that are thrown out at us each year by so many self-serving corporate brands,journals, newspapers and guides it is difficult to keep track of who reigns supreme from year to year.

We both are privileged to being able to travel extensively each year and wherever we visit we try to visit the local food markets or supermarkets where locals buy their ingredients. Labelling is always top of our list at scrutinizing what the ingredients are and where the produce originates.

This is where we believe the world can learn from the French as we have ourselves have learnt and observed over the nearly fourteen years we have spent here. It is all about Seasonal, Fresh and most importantly Local ingredients which the French strive to use in their kitchen.

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As a family with young children that had just moved to France from the UK the first thing that struck us was that in the schools that our children attended they had chefs that were following these rules and the fact that our children were enjoying asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce at school when it was Asparagus season was just wonderful.

This is a way of life here in France and it all starts at the infant age that children are educated in the home, at school and are even taken on yearly tours of the local food market where vendors take the time to talk and engage with the children. Three meals a day with very little or no snacking is the norm here.

Great restaurants, wonderful and glossy food magazines, celebrity chefs and star studded Food TV shows are all fine, but not if half our population is denied or unable to afford fresh and healthy ingredients since it is just simply unaffordable for them and they find that the only way they can feed themselves and their families is by buying ingredients and meals from multinational supermarket chains and fast food outlets.

Being able to afford healthy food should be a constitutional right not a privilege and all governments should put this at the top of their agendas.

More finance and effort from all those parties who promote Luxury, Fine Dining and Awards should start surfacing as it is becoming more and more difficult for people around the globe to be able to feed themselves with good and honest food. It is children who are mostly at risk and those in power should ensure that the corporate world is held responsible and that profit does not come before healthy meals and the access of nutritious and affordable ingredients to all!

Farmers Markets have become a fad and it is disheartening to see that ingredients can cost up to if not more, than twice the price as the ingredients sold in Multi National Supermarket.

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http://www.lecalabash.fr

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

One of the world’s most sought after classics, the Macaron.

Today is Macaron day here at le Calabash and Alison shares with you her passion for creating and preparing one of the world’s most sought after classics, the Macaron, on which she has put her own stamp.
The Macaron cookie was born in Italy, introduced by the chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533 at the time of her marriage to the Duc d’Orleans who became king of France in 1547 as Henry II. The macaron spreaded thanks to the Renaissance with Catherine de Médicis and many cities made this their speciality: Nancy with the famous “macaron sisters”, Reims, Amiens with honey and apricot jam, Cormery, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Montmorillon, etc.
Abroad, macarons were also found in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Japan and even Argentina or Chili.
The first Macarons were simple cookies, made of almond powder, sugar and egg whites. Many towns throughout France have their own prized tale surrounding this delicacy. In Nancy, the granddaughter of Catherine de Medici was supposedly saved from starvation by eating Macarons. In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the macaron of Chef Adam regaled Louis XIV and Marie-Therese at their wedding celebration in 1660.
There are two types of macarons: the traditional or the Parisian. The traditional macaron has a cracked, grainy ad crunchy shell on the outside, and the inside melts in your mouth. Le Parisian macaron is round, smooth and in garnished with jam, compote, spices or liquor. Later came the idea to garnish them with ganache or with a cream filling and to transform them into different flavours.
Only at the beginning of the 20th century did the Macaron become a “double-decker” affair. Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Louis Ernest Laduree (Laduree pastry and salon de the, rue Royale in Paris) had the idea to fill them with a “chocolate panache” and to stick them together.
Since then, French Macaron cookies have been nationally acclaimed in France and remain the best-selling cookie in pastry retail stores.
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An African Culinary, Wildlife and Fly-in Safari Adventure with le Calabash

On this incredible trip, you will embark on a Culinary and Wildlife experience second to none with two award-winning chefs, Alison and Sidney.

Discover the breath-taking beauty of Cape Town, visit some of the finest wine estates in Stellenbosch, Franschoek and enjoy traditional Cape Malay Cuisine. Experience hands on cooking classes in our new kitchen on the award winning ‘Zevenwacht Wine Estate’ near Cape Town. Home to soaring Table Mountain, golden beaches and bountiful vineyards, Cape Town is sure to capture your heart.

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We fly into the wonder of Namibia where we stay at prime wildlife locations at some of the world’s finest game reserves where we will enjoy game drives and have the opportunity to see many of Africa’s incredible animals including, The Big Five. You will track cheetah on foot, cook under the African stars with local chefs and meet local tribes. You will be staying in luxurious lodge accommodation.

If you are eager for an even deeper and exhilarating experience, come on our extended trip and enjoy the additional Fly-In Safari that focuses on the Namib Desert, one of the oldest deserts in the world. This scenic flight in Namibia guarantees to be one of the highlights of your trip ! No part of the desert is more stunning than Sossusvlei, with its monumentally high dunes, their sinuous crests and warm colours changing as the day waxes and wanes. You will be mesmerised by the incredible views.