Thursday, 8 November 2012

autumn in sturget

This is our first autumn in Sturget.  Well, in France in fact.  As it is the Vacances de Toussaint (the first term break following All Saints Day), we decided to head to Sturget, my father-in-law's holiday property near Bordeaux.  The weather during the 5 hour's drive (5 hours for JB, would have been 6 if I were driving) was dreary, a preview of what awaited us in St Gervais (the name of the village) for the next few days.  We had a 15 minute respite when the sun shone through the glass roof of our new car...err new company car that is. Gone were the blooming giant sunflowers we are used to seeing and upon arrival in the Bordeaux region, the vineyards were all a little more somber than in the summertime. 

Despite the rain and the cold, we are happy to be here.  The changing colours are for us a wonderful re-introduction to seasons (for the girls of course, its all totally new - they have been talking about autumn in school though, bringing autumn fruits for show and tell etc).  We are equipped with rubber boots, rain coats, warm bedding and radiators. We are making fires in the chimney, roasting chestnuts over the open fire and hearty soups are on the menu in the evenings.

Its also the season to plant.  After much debate and discussion, it was decided that a prune tree would be best seeing as it bears fruit during the time of year we are most likely to be here.  So an excursion was made and a tree was acquired.  With much ceremony, we planted our tree.

In the summer, I love how the quince trees in the garden hang heavy with an abundance of fruits.  Totally organic, they often have internal inhabitants (of the wormy kind), so we don't get to appreciate them much.  And they are quite inedible raw; it is tart and has an astringent flavour, often dry and gritty as well.  They are difficult to peel and cut, but once cooked, is seriously yummy.  I made a quince crumble the other day with the pickings that my father-in-law saved for me.  Cooked in a sugar syrup with some sliced fresh ginger and mandarin skin thrown in, it took about an hour for the quince to become tender.  I then topped it with the usual butter-sugar-flour crumble topping (with some chocolate chips scattered over) and baked it in the oven. The kitchen smelled like heaven.    In fact, the fragrance of quince is so strong that it was used as a deodoriser.  The Romans used it as a perfume.  Leave them to ripen in a room, and the smell that pervades is just like, wow nature attack.  I didn't even have time to take a picture of the crumble, it got eaten that fast. 

Here in Sturget, our activities are often weather-dictated.  But our friends remain steadfast, come rain or shine.  Even when we see them once in a year (now that we are in France, perhaps a little more often).  

I am getting rather chilly sitting still for such a long time, so am off to make some hot soup for lunch!  Hoping you have better weather where you are!

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