Monday, 30 September 2019

The Mysteries of French Cream Explained


Red tops mean full fat in France.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Hopefully. It's a tricky subject and even French people seem confused when you put them on the spot.

This cream contains a seaweed based stabilising gel.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
As any anglophone expat or immigrant knows, cream is not just cream in France. In Australia there was just cream. When I moved to the UK I graduated to whipping, single and double cream. Easy enough. Whipping cream is for, you guessed it, whipping. Single is for pouring and double is for dolloping. The range of cream on the shelves in France is much bigger again. For anyone who did not grow up with it, it is confusing. More importantly, despite the ubiquity of Chantilly cream in France, French cream is notoriously tricky to whip. For Australians wishing to make pavlova, this causes some angst.

Take no notice of the 'Flavour of 2011' logo. Companies pay
to use this 'certification' on their products.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
And now for some French cream terminology:

Crème: must have a minimum fat content of 30% to be called crème or crème entière. If the fat content is lower a product must use a descriptor such as légère or allegée or not use the word crème at all.

Crème fraîche: always pasturised, and usually has a lactic culture added. This makes it ever so slightly sour tasting, lengthens its shelf life, thickens the cream and means it does not separate when heated. Its fat content is around 40%. Used for dolloping and cooking. Only found in the chiller cabinet. It is not the same as the anglophone sour cream.

Crème crue: always unpasturised, with no lactic culture added. This is what I generally buy, as my local laitière  (dairy farmer) delivers it to the house. Fat content is about 40% and this is the closest to double cream.

Fleurette: originally the cream that rose to the top of the milk, but it has been adopted by the dairy industry to indicate cream that does not have a lactic culture added. There are no rules about its use, so read labels carefully before buying. It can have a fat content as low as 5%. Usually crème fleurette is 30-35% and used for whipping, fleurette is 20% and used for pouring, creme fleurette légère is 5-15%. It often contains stabilising gels.

Liquide: pasturised or UHT cream that has a fat content of at least 30%, and has not had a lactic culture or thickener added. Often used synonymously with crème fleurette by cooks.

Fluide: there are no rules covering this term, but usually means crème fraîche with a lower fat content, around 30%.

Epaisse: 'thick' or 'thickened', usually with a lactic ferment. Often used synonymously with crème fraîche by cooks. Can be found in the chiller cabinet or as a UHT product.

Légère: 'light', products with a fat content of less than 30%, usually somewhere between 15% and 5%.

Fouettée: 'whipped'.

Chantilly: sweetened whipped cream flavoured with vanilla and stabilised with gums. You can buy packets of 'Chantilly mix', which contain the sugar, flavouring and stabilisers to add to your crème liquide / épaisse / fleurette for whipping success.

The astuce gourmande is to take the cream out of
the fridge at the last minute before whipping.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide. The Golden Rules of Whipping French Cream:

1. Use a big enough bowl because the cream will double in volume.
2. Use a crème liquide with a fat content of 30%. A crème légère does not have enough fat to hold the air bubbles, a richer cream will not make much volume.
3. Everyone agrees the cream must be well chilled and if you are feeling really serious, put the bowl and the whisk in the freezer for 15 minutes before you start.
4. You can use cream with a higher fat content, but add 15% milk to thin it down. That's about 2 tbsp per 250ml pot of cream.
5. If you sweeten with icing sugar you can add it at any time. If you sweeten with granulated or castor sugar, add it at the very beginning to ensure it dissolves completely. Sugar added at the end allows you to add a little less, and results in a less yellowy coloured whipped cream.
6. French chefs habitually add stabilising gums such as a pinch of gum arabic or tragacanth at the end, but the sugar also acts as a stabiliser, as does chilling.

Dairy products (milk, cream and cheese) from my local dairy farm.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

 Pavlova, topped with whipped cream and bottled blueberries.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

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This is a refreshed post from December 2011.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Rock Art at Mount Moffatt

I can find precious little information about the rock art of Mount Moffatt online. Plenty of photos, not much fact. I'm adding to that problem!

One of the reasons for us going to Mount Moffatt was to see the rock art. It's the only time I have seen Aboriginal rock art in the wild (as it were). Human occupation of the area dates back about 20,000 years, but it seems pretty well accepted that the visible art dates back to no more than 200 years. (I'm willing to be disabused on that one...)


From what I remember (and judging by the ferns in the foreground) the figure in the above painting was child sized. Imagine being able to convince a child to stand still long enough to be able silhouette them with what amounts to dyed spit.


These are the only two photos I took of the rock art. These days I would take many more, but I only had a roll of 36 shots to last 8 days - and this was day 2.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Sunset on the Seine

About a month ago we spent a couple of days on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris, working.

In the evening after dinner we had some time to ourselves, so we we had a bit of a wander and took the opportunity to do some moody pics, something we promised ourselved we would do when we photographed Notre Dame in 2017.

Tour St Jaques

Picnic on the river bank

Notre Dame on the left

Chatelet

Friday, 27 September 2019

Bouchonne in the Rain

On Sunday we took part in the biennial Bouchonne at Sainte Maure. For the second time running it rained, but there was still 400 cars taking part (according to la Nouvelle Republique).





Thursday, 26 September 2019

The Rise and Fall of the Etang de Ribaloche


The main car park in the Forest of Preuilly is at a small manmade lake called the Etang de Ribaloche. Here is a series of photos showing how much the water level varies with the weather and season.

December 2007.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

February 2008.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

June 2009.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

 June 2011.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

October 2014.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

November 2016.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

September 2017.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

September 2018.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

September 2019.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Industrial Revolution Starts in the Forest


The source of the Sauvaget, known as la Fontaine Bourbon, 
full of crystal clear water even in the drought.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The little stream called the Sauvaget starts as a spring, deep in the Forest of Preuilly. It descends rapidly from there, just a few kilometres, to meet the River Claise on the outskirts of Bossay sur Claise. Along the way, this insignificant seeming stream powered the hammers and bellows of an iron smelting complex called the Fourneau de Claise in the 17th century.

The humps and hollows in the topography of the forest tell you man was here.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Iron ore was extracted from under the ground in the forest. Trees were cut to provide charcoal to feed the Claise furnaces. Mule trains, loaded with ore or sacks of charcoal shuttled materials down to the ore refiners. Slag, the waste product from the foundries, was dumped in the forest on the return journey.

All this section of the forest is full of old mounds and hollows.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A few more snippets about the industrial activity centred on the Sauvaget are to be found in these previous blog posts:

The Claise and its Mills -- 17th century to the present.

A Walk Along the Sauvaget (Part I).

A Walk Along the Sauvaget (Part II).

A Walk Around Sauvaget.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Re-emerging River

On one of our little trips in the country (this time with Niall and Antoinette) we visited a little chapel at Plaincourault, south of Angles sur Anglin. On the way back we stopped near Merigny to look at a weird thing.

Part of the Anglin river disappears underground south of Merigny, and rejoins north of the village. I'm not sure where exactly it leaves the main body of the river (and I am not sure anybody else is, either).


It was always thought that the water entering the river was a spring, but coloured dye testing proves that at least part of the water  comes from the river upstream. The underground river was discovered by a caving group investigating the grotte de la Roche Noire (marked in red on the above map) in 1967. The full course of the river hasn't been mapped, because the cave has collapsed in places.


The spot where the water re-enters the river is far more obvious, and very picturesque. The water flows from under a small cliff into a pond, formed to stop the water eroding the far bank of the river.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Un Galopin


At the end of a very hot 10km walk the other day we all repaired to the bar in Barrou. Simon and I had Perrier Fines Bulles (small bubbles), Pauline had a demi-pêche (a beer with peach syrup), Jim had a panaché (shandy) and Dominique ordered a galopin.

Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

I'd never heard of a galopin in this context before so I quizzed her as to what it was. She described it as a demi-demi ie half a half. Meaning it was 125 ml or an eighth of a litre. Beer from the tap normally comes in half litre glasses and are known as chopes. A demi is 250 ml. The closest Australian equivalent to a galopin would be a pony.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Camping at Mount Moffatt

One of the first holidays Susan and I took together was camping at Mount Moffatt Natioanl Park in Central Queensland. I can't remember why we decided on Mount Moffatt. Nor can I remember why camping. Although I guess once Mount Moffatt had been chosen, camping was the only option.

We drove there in my Datsun Ute (king cab version, no less) that I had wired to accept Susan's father's car fridge, filled with our new sleeping bags and my 20 (at least) year old tent that had done sterling service all through my 20's. We spent the first night in a mobile home on a campsite in Roma because of storms, and the next day drove to the National Park via Mitchell and the Womblebank Road, an eight hour drive on 300km of mainly very rutted and corrugated dirt roads.
 
 Camping in Longreach a week later.

Apart from the roughness of the roads the main thing I remember from the trip was seeing what can only be described as a flock of about 20 Wedgetail Eagles descending on a kangaroo carcass somewhere near Womblebank.
That's not a road, that's a river. The roads weren't that smooth



Mount Moffatt National Park is part of the 3,000 square km Canarvon Gorge National Park, and has a long history of Aboriginal occupation. We only staryed there 3 nights, and in that time we saw no-one, although we did see someone's caravan at a second campsite. I don't think we saw much wildlife, either, apart from lots of dead 'roos, and some fish in an almost dried up rock pool.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Two Familiar Orchids in the Alps


Going up in the funicular to the botanical gardens in Davos I was catching glimpses of wild orchids in the grass. They looked awfully familiar, and once we got to the top and were strolling around in the gardens, I could see they were two species that we get here in the Touraine.

Common Spotted Orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Common Spotted Orchid.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Friday, 20 September 2019

Walking Around Barrou


The weather for the first walking club outing of the new season was very warm, with low slung glaring sun for most of it. We walked from the village of Barrou on the Creuse River.

Uphill right from the start.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

An old building in a tiny farming hamlet.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Charming house.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A very fit looking saddle horse interacting with Jean-Jacques. 
The horse is no doubt admiring Jean-Jacques handsome new facial hair arrangements.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

By this stage of the walk I was really struggling. Thankfully, the horse lives opposite friends John and Maureen. I nipped in for a top up to my water bottle.

Two big barns in the countryside.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

By the time I had reached the barns I needed to lie down in the shade for ten minutes. Fortunately that allowed me to recover sufficiently to finish the walk.

Walkers enjoying scrumped Chasselas grapes.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Harvesting sunflowers.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The hamlet of la Coue in the distance.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A duck weed covered garden pond.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Beatrice walking up yet another hill (but at least it's in the shade).
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The back of a house in Barrou, with external staircase tower.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Jim, who was also on the walk, has published his account of the walk on his blog Loire Valley Experiences.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos.