Monday, 23 December 2019

Tarte Normande

Our neighbours across the road live in the mountains in the north-east of France. Their house in our street is their holiday home. They bought it cheaply from an old woman who went into the retirement home and they are doing it up in their vacations. Long ago, it used to be a mattress factory as well as a family home.

Anyway, we've always been on friendly terms with them and on their last visit we were invited to dinner. I was already planning to make the French classic apple tart called Tarte Normande so offered to contribute this to the meal. Laurent didn't tell me exactly what he and Claire were going to serve, but he checked several times with me that we liked cheese. I thought we were going to get raclette, but I was wrong.

 Tarte Normande (recipe here).
Tarte Normande (French apple tart). Baked and Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

We turned up at the specified time of 6.30 pm, for drinks, only to find that no one answered the door. Eventually Laurent appeared at an upstairs window and lent out. 'What's the time?' he asked. 'Six-thirty', we replied. 'Oh, we aren't ready -- come back at seven-thirty!'. 

So we did, to find one of our other neighbours, Gilles, already installed at the table, and a delicious looking frying pan full of diced potatoes and chopped onions sizzling away in bacon fat on the stove. Nibbles were put out and drinks were served -- pineau de Charentes for me, Gilles' homemade rosé for Claire and Simon, and a brand of pastis from the north-east for Laurent and Gilles. After we'd consumed our fair share of toasts and crisps, Guillaume turned up. Gilles departed because he wasn't staying to dinner.

Finally, the potatoes were ready. They had been gently sizzling for well over an hour. Served with them were two Mont d'Or cheeses that had been melted in the oven in their boxes and some grilled Montbeliard sausages. Potatoes were served, sausages on the side, and liquid cheese spooned over the top. Simon was in absolute heaven. Claire kept apologising that it wasn't really cuisine de chez nous but a dish that had become popular in the 1970s or 80s at the earliest. Her native cuisine, as someone from Belfort, is sauerkraut. Laurent was tickled by my story of how we came to know Mont d'Or cheese.

Over the course of the evening we discussed various television programmes and movies, especially 'Six Feet Under', which came in for a lot of attention because Claire works for a funeral directors. We talked about Guillaume's work (he's a landscaper and gardener who has worked for France's richest man, who he clearly despised, and now works for an old school hardman builder, who he clearly respects). And kimchi, Korean cuisine and language was the surprise subject of the evening. Turns out Claire reads and writes Korean, although does not speak it well as she's never been able to find a suitable language partner.


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Colin and Elizabeth said...

Sounds like a typical French get together great stuff... Pineau de Charentes that brings back memories... Brought some back from France in the 80's and it tasted completely different in England... Strange phenomena, have not drunk any since. C

chm said...

Those cheesy potatoes sound great. Pineau des Charentes is also one of my favorites.

Didn't Simon taught (music?) in Korea at some point?

Susan said...

He taught English in Korea.

Susan said...

I like Pineau, but always forget about it as an alternative at apéro.

sillygirl said...

Wonderful meal! I would have joined in on the discussion of Six Feet Under - still remember scenes from that show - in particular what came to be the openings - someone had a great idea doing those.

Susan said...

I've never seen it, but Guillaume raved about it.

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