Monday, November 12, 2007

Cookbook Review #3 Kate Hill's Culinary Journey In Gascony


I have been working on this post for the last week and it is one of the most exciting for me. Why? Let me tell you a quick little story. A few weeks ago, I was on Wendy’s site and decided to visit one of the blogs that she has listed on the side under her column Food. I liked the sound of Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook, so off I went. I was thrilled when I started reading Lucy’s blog because she is located in France. As you all may or may not know, France is one of my favorite spots on earth. I am not sure how I got hooked on France, but it was probably because I was starting my new venture in wines and I was enjoying French wine. This was back in the mid 1980’s. My fascination continued with French wine and then on into French cuisine. In the mid 1990’s I actually got to travel to France twice, due to Mike’s business travels. We met and became good friends with some folks who live in Saumur and that became home base for us. So in my travels of France, they were mostly in the northern part of the country.
OK, back to Lucy’s blog. I do not remember which day I was reading it, but she mentioned a person named Kate Hill and I saw the name Julia Hoyt somewhere. That name rang a bell to me as I read, and still have on my top shelf, a book I purchased back in the mid-90’s called “A Culinary Journey In Gascony” by Kate Ratliffe who lived on a canal barge called the Julia Hoyt. Oh my gosh! It cannot be the same person! So I hopped over to Kate’s sight and WOW! It is the same person who is still living on the Julia Hoyt on a canal in Gascony! I immediately pulled the book from the shelf for a revisit, besides spending hours on Kate’s blog. So let me introduce you to Kate Hill and the Julia Hoyt.


In A Culinary Journey In Gascony, Kate takes you on a six day tour on her canal barge the Julia Hoyt. The canal that she travels is “Canal Lateral a la Garonne”. This canal meanders close to the Garonne River between Bordeaux and Toulouse. During her travels on this slow moving canal, she gathers recipes and rituals from neighbors and friends who live in about nineteen villages along her route.

Her first chapters are Introduction pieces about her home on the Julia Hoyt, the river, the valley, and all the villages she visits while traveling up and down the canal. Day One, Kate takes us to the town of Castets-En-Dorthe, A Barge Town, gives us some lovely photos and takes us on the first part of her culinary journey – Aperitifs. Here she gives us the history and wonderful recipes for some of the aperitifs her and her friends enjoy. Day Two brings us to Meilhan-Sur-Garonne and Kate’s Soups. This was a wonderful chapter and the soup that caught my attention was the “Soupe Aux Poireaux Ma Facon” Leek Soup Vinaigrette.


This soup is comprised of leeks, potatoes, shallots, chives, and a surprise taste that you add at the end, vinaigrette composed of mustard, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper. This soup was so rich and creamy without a hint of milk or cream. So satisfying!!! Day Three brought us to Marmande-La-Jolie and market day. This chapter was on all the lovely veggies that Kate acquires on her trip. Day Four takes us to Le Mas D’Agenais and Lagruere. Here Kate presents us with “main courses”. I absolutely had to try “Lapin Aux Pruneaux D’Agen” Rabbit Cooked With Prunes of Agen.



I am sure the prunes that I used did not come from Agen, but once I took a bit of this stew, I was not sure I cared where the prunes came from! This rabbit stew was comprised of rabbit, salt & pepper, bacon, onions, shallots, olive oil (because I did not have duck fat!), flour, carrots, celery, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, prunes and 1 bottle of red wine – minus one glass! For a fall evening, this was one of the best dishes I have made in such a long time. So rich and full of flavor, all I added to the meal was salad, bread and another bottle of red wine! Day Five brought her travels to Damazan, Vianne and Buzet. Here we have a chapter on side dishes such a potatoes, vegetable puree’s, leeks and zucchini.

Day Six brings us to the end of this journey back to the home port of the Julia Hoyt, Ste. Colombe-En-Bruilhois and Camont, the French Farmhouse where Kate also calls home. Camont and the Julia Hoyt are located just a wee bit north of the town of Agen, which I have pointed out to you on the map, just in case you want to drop by!


This ending chapter brings you to the end of dinner, dessert. Also, Kate introduces you to Camont and the wonderful folks who are her neighbors.


You must be an “arm chair” traveler and visit with Kate. This book is a travel journal and cookbook all in one. I so enjoyed it back in the mid-90’s and am so enjoying it again! Please visit Kate on her blog “Kate Hill – A French Kitchen Adventure”. Kate also has cooking classes at her “French Cooking School at Camont” and is now planning “Truffle Weekends & Winter Workshops for 2008”. You can now read on Kate’s blog about “Camp Cassoulet” where she had a group of folks, including Lucy and David Lebovitz, join her at Camont for the weekend to make Cassoulet. Wonderful fun posts about the weekend with lots of great photos!

Cheers!

18 comments:

Holler said...

What a good idea to add the map! I like the look of that soup Deb!

Wendy said...

How exciting! :) It's a small small world indeed!
I've been reading all about Camp Cassoulet. It sounded wonderful, didn't it?
I haven't tried rabbit yet but am thoroughly taken with the picture of that gorgeous casserole.
Wonderful post.

katiez said...

I need that book! I've been so tempted to attend the Camp Cassoulet. She's only about 4 hours from us... Maybe next year....
Saumer is only about 3 hours from us.
We have a gite....
Great review!

Nora B. said...

Terrific review, Deb. And you must have a very good memory to recall that you had this book.

Which wine(s) did you pair with these delicious food?

Peter M said...

What are cool trip and the food makes you want to just stay there!

winedeb said...

Hi Holler, yep I love maps. Always checking out where I would like to go!

Hey Wendy, I wish we all could go to Camp Cassoulet together! Actually took me awhile to eat rabbit...you know, but it is very good.

Hi Katie, as I told Wendy, it would be so fun if we all could go. You should get Kate's book. It is wonderful! Where is your gite located?

Hi Nora, with the soup I had a French Chardonnay and the rabbit we had a Beaujolais-Villages. I like Michel Picard's wines. The Chard was his also. Good and priced right!

You are absolutely right Peter! Hopefully some day I will get back there!

Aimée said...

What a great post, Deb. I love France, too, and not just for the food!

Lucy said...

Ah, France. Ain't it beautiful?

Thanks for the inro to Kate's book and blog - doesn't Lucy just blow you away?

Kate Hill said...

My dear Deb,
Thanks so much for your wonderful review and congratulations for making the canal boat/Gascony/Kate connection! I returned to use my simpler maiden name Kate Hill- (2 four letter words?) for the newly-designed edition that Ten Speed Press did recently; same simple and authentic recipes, a few different pix and new old name.
BTW, I am up for doing another Camp Cassoulet between now and the end of Feb. It was too much fun! I just posted it on my cooking school site- www.frenchkitchenadventures.com
warm wishes form Gascony...

winedeb said...

Thanks Aimee, I totally agree with you!

Hi Lucy, yes Lucy (must be in the name) is a wonderful writer and I enjoy her posts. And yes, France is so lovely. I think it is her age, so graceful.

Kate, I am so thrilled that I found you, again. Keep up the good work and maybe someday I will get to head over your way!

Shayne said...

this is a great post and the rabbit looks so good. I love rabbit, grew up eating it. I have no idea where I can get some so maybe I will try this recipe with chicken. Rabbit is similar to chicken except chicken has far less flavor.

Maybe just maybe your post will create a new serge for people buying Kate's book.

Shayne said...

P.S. I too visit new food blogs like you do, I start clicking on blogs listed on other blogs. It took me to some strange places last night.

Gloria said...

I think the book is lovely Debs, and nice pictures of course.I love your wine and food's comments! Gloria

Valli said...

This cookbook sounds like one of those rare finds. Good armchair reading as well as exciting recipes to boot. It can't get any better than that! All the dishes you have prepared look exceptional. Excellent!!!

winedeb said...

Hi Valli - I wish all of us could go to the Camp Cassoulet at Kates. Wouldn't that be a hoot!

Hi Gloria, thank you for you nice comments and I am glad you enjoyed the post.

Hi Shayne! Not sure where you do your shopping but Publix Markets has frozen rabbit. That is where I got mine and it is great. Yes, you could do with chicken, but the rabbit has much more flavor!

Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita said...

Sounds like a great book. I haven't tried rabbit yet either. I keep thinking about "Thumper" haha

winedeb said...

Hey Mary Ann, it took me awhile to be able to eat Thumper, but once I got over that, yum!!!!! So much better than chicken!

Shaun said...

Deb ~ What a great find! I think rabbit is cooked too infrequently in most countries, especially since they can be pests. I have no problem eating Bambi's friends (or even Bambi for that matter). Thanks for hooking us up with Kate Hill's blog, too.