Archive for the ‘04. TASTE OF MY TRAVELS’ Category

Goulash is a soup, or sometimes a stew, with its origins in Eastern Europe, primarily Hungary.  The flavours of paprika and caraway seed, both which are used in this recipe, are particularly associated with the cuisine of the region.  (Paprika is available in many forms: variations of hot, sweet and smoked.  It is also widely used in Spanish cooking.)  There are a number of variations of basic Goulash, which are helpfully listed on Wikipedia.   The word Goulash apparently comes from the Hungarian word for a cattle herdsman but it is also similar to the Czech and Slovakian words for ‘mishmash’, or mixture … and this dish certainly is a delicious and warming mixture!

This is my last ‘soupy’ post for a while but although this was originally called simply Pork Goulash Soup and comes from Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert it is much more of a main meal.  If necessary the liquids could be lessened by adding a smaller amount of stock at the outset and/or reducing the sauce to give a thicker stew.  I have written previously giving information and a basic recipe for Suet Dumplings to which I am adding recipe variations as I come across them.  There is also a recipe for Beef & Bean Casserole which includes plain dumplings.  Dumplings are an optional extra in this Goulash recipe but I think are worth adding with instructions given separately in the recipe book where it was suggested that they could be flavoured with either caraway or fennel seeds.  We recently enjoyed the flavour combination of  Fennel & Apple Chutney with pork in a Sausagement Plait.  (It would be interesting to try fennel dumplings in a fishy stew, although I have never come across recipes with this combination.)  I chose caraway seed for its authenticity, plus it is a flavour I like.  The first time I felt the quantity of caraway seeds was rather scant so doubled the amount on the second occasion: I suppose it depends on personal taste.  The original recipe was for a very small quantity of dumplings and only just about adequate if potato was served as well.  I doubled the quantity the second time to serve the dumplings in place of potato.  The amounts could be increased further for larger eaters.  The soup/stew is rich, thick and tomatoey especially with the soured cream on top.  (I did not have soured cream but made my own by combining a squeeze of lemon with some single Elmlea half fat cream.)

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Pork Goulash Soup/Stew with Caraway Dumplings
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
225g/8ozs lean pork
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tbsp flour
½ tsp smoked paprika
600ml/1pt chicken stock, or vegetable stock – halve for a thicker stew
400g can chopped tomatoes
Salt & black pepper
4tbsp soured cream (to serve)
4tbsp single cream and a few drops of lemon juice, to make it sour

For caraway dumplings: 
   (amount doubled from original recipe but could be increased further)
100g/4ozs self-raising flour
50g/2ozs suet (I use vegetable rather than meat, as it is slightly lower fat)
2-4tsp caraway seeds, depending on taste – optional
   (alternatively fennel or toasted sesame seeds can be used)
4tbsp crème fraîche, yoghurt or milk
salt to taste
a little extra water as required

1.  Heat the olive oil gently in a large saucepan and fry the onion and pepper for about 10minutes, until it just begins to brown.

2.  Cut the pork into small pieces or thin strips.  Combine with the onions and pepper in the pan and cook for 2-3minutes.

3.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1minute.

4.  Lower the heat, stir in the flour and cook for 1minute more.

5.  Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan along with the paprika and stock.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  For a thicker stew to serve on a plate add less stock and reduce sauce at Stage 7 so it is thicker.

6.  Meanwhile, put the suet, flour and seeds (if using) into a bowl, season and mix together with the crème fraîche and a little water if necessary.  Divide into 8 balls (or 12 smaller ones).

7.  Season the goulash to taste and add the dumplings to the pan.  Cover with a lid and cook for a further 10minutes until the dumplings are risen and cooked.

8.  Serve goulash in bowls with soured cream drizzled over and 2 or 3 dumplings on top.  Add a simple green vegetable if needed.


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Ever since eating this recipe in our home last winter we had been looking forward to trying it at its home this summer in the mountains of France.  We found it on the menu of a pavement cafe just opposite the door of the church at Briançon, a fortified town high in the alps.  Briançon is actually the highest city in the European union, according to French statistics – about the same height as Ben Nevis in Scotland.  The Tartiflette did not disappoint and it was certainly authentic, containing the Reblochon cheese which is a regional speciality, with a slice actually melted on top.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable lunch in a lovely location.  When making my own version some months beforehand I had been unable to find Reblochon (or Taleggio which was suggested as an alternative) so I used grated Mozzarella.  I would look around a little harder though if I was making it for a special occasion (I have seen it since so now know where to go).  Although I used a recipe from a book, I did some research to find out about alternative cheeses.  Waitrose have two recipes.  The first is for a Tartiflette very similar to the one I made, where they suggest substituting Crémier de Chaumes, Epoisses or even mature Irish Ardrahan (unknown to me).  The second recipe is a variation on the basic recipe which uses ripe Brie: Tartiflette with Brie & Bacon.  I have read elsewhere that you can use Pont-l’Évêque.  Sounds as if anything goes, though preferably not too mild a flavour: most importantly, the cheese must melt well…!

My recipe comes from One Step Ahead by Mary Berry, a book from the library with so many lovely recipes that I am loth to return it.  She writes that the mixture can be prepared in advance – up to 12 hours if necessary – and kept in the fridge (though bring it to room temperature before cooking to avoid cracking the dish) but is not suitable for freezing. In the dish we ate on holiday a slice of Reblochon was laid on top of each individual portion dish, so reserve slices of cheese before you grate if you are going to do this.   Although we ate Tartiflette in the Alps during the summer months, it is perfect as a quick and simple winter TV supper eaten round the fire.  Be warned, though: it is not a dish for calorie counters!  Serve with green salad or green vegetable.

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(Serves 4)

Butter for the dish
1lb/500g small potatoes, preferably new
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4-5ozs/125-150g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
4-5ozs/125-150g button mushrooms, halved or quartered
4ozs/125g Reblochon or Taleggio cheese, rind removed
substitute a similar melting cheese (see above) but the result will not be as authentic
¼pint/150ml single pouring cream (original used double) – I used Elmlea half fat
a little paprika
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1.  Butter a shallow ovenproof dish.  Preheat the oven to  200oC/400oF/Gas 6

2.  Boil the potatoes in salted ater until they are tender.  Drain well and, once they have cooled enough to handle, slice them thickly. 

3.  Arrange them in the base of the buttered dish.

4.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes over a high heat.  Add the bacon and fry for a few minutes more.  Turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook for around 20 minutes until it is tender, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the mushrooms to the mixture in the pan, raise the temperature and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes.

6.  Tip the mixture over the potatoes and stir in.

7.   Coarsely grate the cheese – or remaining cheese – over the top of the bacon and potato mixture.

8.  Pour the seasoned cream over the top of the potato mixture, sprinkle with paprika.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until crisp on top and piping hot.

9.  Serve hot sprinkled with parsley and with a green salad on the side.

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August ’Meanderings’ …

All images ©’Meanderings through my Cookbook’

Pictured (top to bottom)
Pitta Pizzas
Minted Apple Salad
Marinaded Feta
Middle Eastern Fattoush Salad

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We spent most of August on holiday in France so I arranged for some automated posts while I was away.  No one wants to spend longer in the kitchen than they have to when the weather is warm and it is lovely outdoors.  Sadly the weather has been less than perfect this year.  On the few really good days we had I was pleased to be able to make some simple snacks such as Cheese & Tomato Tortilla Bake, served with some quickly grilled meat, or Pitta Pizzas both of which were accompanied by a side salad.  Also on the menu was Welsh Rarebit, an old family favourite and a perfect light snack at any time of year. Marinaded Feta, Hummous and Pesto Hummous are also good eaten as a light snack and perfect for a summer buffet.

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I love salad meals in the summer and so I am always on the lookout for new and tasty sounding mixtures, ingredients and marinades.  One salad recipe which I have been making for a number of years is Mixed Bean Salad, which has a choice of two different marinades: both are delicious, so it is difficult to choose my favourite.  Minted Apple Salad was the result of an experiment using cider vinegar and the recipe for Tzatziki Potato Salad was another experiment using yoghurt based tzatziki as a dressing for cold potato in place of the usual mayonnaise.  Finally, I added the delicious Middle Eastern Fattoush Salad in advance of posting (in September) the delicous Za’atar Chicken with which it should be served: both from recipes by Nigella Lawson.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

This year we travelled to Haute-Savoie in the French Alps for our summer holiday not far from the Swiss and Italian borders.  We were based on a lakeside campsite at the southern end of beautiful Lake Annecy, but as usual we made our way slowly there, looking and tasting as we went.  There were many foodie delights along our way, some of which I hope may make an appearance in these pages if I am able to find both recipe and ingredients.  We ate with ex-pat English friends who served us Gesiers in a salad (literally gizzards, which some people might be inclined to turn their noses up at, but it definitely is a case of ‘don’t knock them until you have tried them’).  With the same friends, were served an extensive cheese board including Chaource, Mimolette Ancienne and several types of Brie.  We also tried some other cheeses, including Morbier which has a creamy texture and a thin blue vein running through the centre.  The Alpine region is well known for its cheeses.  Apart from the well known Fondue, which we did not eat this time, one of the best known dishes is Tartiflette, a delicious mixture of bacon, onion, cheese, mushrooms and potato.  (I made this at home before I went and it makes a regular appearance as a quick meal.)  On a day out from Lake Annecy we visited Beaufort, watching the fascinating cheesemaking process in the Coopérative Laitière, then buying and eating some of the cheese we had watched being made.  We enjoyed Jambon Sec, dried ham, several times in salads at restaurants and when self-catering: it is becoming more readily available here in the UK, but is still difficult to find and often rather expensive.  Freshwater fish is found on many menus.  At one restaurant I had a delicious Trout Meunière and in another Sandre or Pike-perch (called this because it is like a cross between the two fish).  Memorable desserts were Mousse aux Myrtilles (delicately amethyst coloured from the bilberries and served in a tiny taster cup), Pineapple Coconut Tarte Tatin (something to try at home: a rum sprinkled ring of pineapple on a coconut crumble base) and Iles Flottante (Floating Islands – always a favourite).  On the way home we dined with some French friends and they gave me their recipe for Flan, a very traditional French dessert which I will eventually post here.  There was one very unusual ingredient discovery as well, the famous red Poppy (or Coquelicot).  Coquelicots de Nemours (named after a town South East of Paris, not far from Fontainebleu) is a sweet created in 1870 from poppyseed, fruit paste and liqueur.  We found Coquelicots de Nemours as a delicious jam at breakfast at our Ibis hotel in Fontainebleu, but were unable to find it in the supermarkets: I expect it is very regional so I will keep looking on future holidays.  It was also available as a special ice cream flavour in the chain restaurant Flunch: always a place worth looking out for in France if you want an inexpensive quick meal.

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As always, we returned with wonderful French ingredients which are mostly unavailable in the UK: Walnut Vinegar, Raspberry Vinegar, Sea Salt (from Guérande, where we holidayed some years ago), olive oil, Confiture de Lait (or Dulce de Leche), cheeses (goats cheese, Chaorce, Mimolette Ancienne, Beaufort, Morbier, Reblochon and Emmental), pate, Spicy Beef Merguez and Chipolata Pork Sausages (totally different in taste to the ones available in the UK), Gesiers (which can be bought ready prepared and vacuum packed, so preparation is unnecessary)  – and of course liqueurs and wines.  I also managed to buy some really inexpensive individual tart tins in two shapes: not sure how I will use them but I could not resist. 

Bookshelf Meanderings:

I have enjoyed browsing though Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson which has a wealth of lovely summery recipes.   My copy came from the library but I may just have to invest in a copy of my own.  This book is the source for Middle Eastern Fattoush Salad and Za’atar Chicken.  Other recipes that have caught my eye are: Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice, Moroccan Roast Lamb (using the delicious spice mixture Ras el-Hanout), Chicken & Cashew Nut Curry, Gingery Duck with Red Onion & Orange Salad, Hasselback Potatoes (so simple – so attractive!), Banana & Butterscotch Upside Down Tart, Lemon Rice Pudding, Figs for 1001 Nights & Gooseberry & Elderflower Ice Cream.

Blogosphere Meanderings:
Highlighting one food site from the UK, one from outside the UK plus something completely different, which may or may not have a food connection.  This month my three are:
UK foodie site … Cherrapeno  ‘A cherrapeño is the result of a cross between a cherry pepper and a jalapeño chilli pepper’, writes Nic at the top of her blog page.  I was inspired by one of her recipes, which led to my post this month for Marinaded Feta.  True to form, there was a red chilli in the jar giving a great spicy flavour but not all recipes on the site contain chillis.  I like the look of Frozen Raspberry Kent Mess (I make a normal version, but have never thought to freeze it), Chelsea Buns (I’ve made these before but must do so again!) and Sablés (a butter biscuit which we have eaten in France) with a caramel glaze. 
Non-UK foodie site …  My French Kitchen  (Allow me this one, after all I have just come back from France and am pining for it already…!)  Ronelle’s site is a beautiful mixture of recipes with photos of France and artwork.  This lovely combination appeals as I love France and enjoy drawing and painting as well as cooking, although for me it is mostly a holiday hobby.  These caught my eye for the recipe as well as the illustrations: Tomato and Goats Cheese Tartlets, Mackerel Pate and Crystallized Orange Strips.
…and something else – The Old Foodie  A fascinating Australian based site giving anecdotes about the history of food in a plethora of well researched subjects.  Each time there is a detailed history, recipes and a clever and often connected quotation.  See Sorbet StoryFragrant Food, Bubble & Squeak and Eating à la Française.

August Recipes …

Basic Recipe: Hummous & Pesto Hummous

Cheese & Tomato Tortilla Bake
Marinaded Feta
Pitta Pizzas
Welsh Rarebit

Marinaded Mixed Bean Salad
Middle Eastern Fattoush Salad
Minted Apple Salad
Tzatziki Potato Salad

Meanderings Revisited took a break during August …

Read Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months  


‘For what we are about to receive…’ September 2010 and beyond

Coming in September … a selection of ideas for cooking and using Chicken plus some French Style recipes.

Happy Cooking & Eating!

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LOOMIS Susan - Tarte Tatin
Tarte Tatin: More of La Belle Vie on Rue Tatin
Susan Herrmann Loomis – pub: Harper Collins

As part of our holiday to Brittany, France, we planned to spend several days in Normandy, so when I spotted Tarte Tatin on the library shelf it seemed a perfect book to take with me to get a flavour of  the region. 

This second book, I discovered, follows on from Loomis’ first book, On Rue Tatin, which I am now hoping to track down and read as well.   On Rue Tatin tells of how cook and writer Susan Loomis and her artist husband moved from the USA to Normandy and settled into an ancient property in need of renovation in the village of Louviers.  (The village is close to the cathedral city of Rouen, famed in particular for its connections with Joan of Arc.) 

This second book, Tarte Tatin, has plenty of local colour and character in its tales of village life, with tales of shopping in the local market and enjoyable meals shared with a jolly sounding group of friends. With the family, now numbering four, having settled into the community and putting down roots, the dream to open a cookery school finally becomes reality.

The book is filled with food related information with plenty of recipes to try out, most feeling French but with an American twist.  On return from holiday I made Loomis’ Raw Beetroot Salad, which I have already posted: an extremely simple recipe which was a great success. There were plenty of other recipes that caught my eye and which I hope to eventually try out.  Corn Bread, Allspice Ice Cream, Ginger Madeleines, Rosemary Baked Potatoes, Three Nut Biscotti and Winter Fruit Tarte Tatin caught my eye in particular.

Susan Loomis has also written recipe books, including Farmhouse Cookbook, French Farmhouse Cookbook and Italian Farmhouse Cookbook.

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During our holiday in the Languedoc, we managed to sample just a few of the regional specialities and I wanted to record them here. The excellent book ‘Hot Sun, Cool Shadow’ by Angela Murrills, which I have already reviewed, was a great help and without it we probably would have missed some of these treats.

map-south-france-languedoc-crop-occitaniafrance-provincenetMap of Region – occitania.france-province

One memorable meal out was at Sète on a very hot day. We found a very attractive square in deep shade just away from the Grand Canal and a restaurant which served only salads. A wonderfully cool and peaceful lunch followed. My husband enjoyed Carpaccio of Beef (thin slices of meat, usually raw) with fresh lime juice and slivers of parmesan, served with a green salad and Parmesan Ice Cream – unusual, but very tasty. My salad included Magret (sliced duck breast) and Tapenade (a paste made from olives spread on slices of French bread) – see below for further information.

Tielle Setoise (Recipe from Sète Tourist Office)
tielle-setoiseThe Tielle is a round pastry filled with a mixture of octopus and tomato, although we sometimes saw packaging where it was mixed with other seafood, notably squid or mackerel. The traditional Tielle is sized as an individual portion but are quite generous. You can also buy a larger pie for several people, though not usually called Tielle, which has more filling of the same type to less pastry. The crust is pinched together in a distinctive style and the tomato sauce seeps through giving the pastry an orange colouring. It is said that Tielles were introduced to this region by Italian immigrants who settled in Sète and similar pies can be found in parts of the Italian coast. Unsurprisingly the pies had a strong fishy flavour – if you like pilchards or mackerel in tomato sauce you would certainly like these. I had not been sure what to expect but these were tasty enough for us to eat several during our holiday, sometimes as part of a picnic lunch and at other times as part of an evening salad meal with the local wine Picpoul de Pinot (see below).

Les Petits pâtés de Pézenas/Pézenas pies (Recipe from Wikipedia)
pezenas-les-petits-pates-pezenas-pies-beziersPézenas is a interesting and well preserved medieval town. We spent a fascinating morning wandering round its old streets, looking in shops and galleries and enjoying its quiet corners. We had heard about the famous Petits pâtés de Pézenas or Pézenas pies and were eager to try them. These small pies in the shape of a bobbin or cotton reel are a speciality of the region, supposedly introduced in the mid-18th century by Robert Clive of India (who came from near Market Drayton in Shropshire) when he stopped over in the town. His Indian cook invented the pies from the available local ingredients giving the recipe to a local pastrycook called Roucairol, although the exact details vary from one account to another, some telling that Clive invented the pies himself. The Très Noble et Très Gourmande Confrérie du Petit Pâté de Pézenas have a ceremony every Ascension Day and dress in extravagant robes and control the quality of the product. The pies contain a filling of minced lamb, brown sugar, candied lemon rind and mixed spice which is rolled up in hot water crust pastry. They are available from the numerous Patisseries in town, some with informative websites, but the pies seemed quite expensive for their size. Ideally the pies should be eaten hot and served as a starter with a glass of wine (either dry or sweet) but this was impossible for us as we bought them as an extra for our picnic so just had one each as a taster. They were delicious lemony sweet mouthfuls with a sticky surface and just a hint that they might contain meat, but I am not sure I would have guessed. One pie was not really enough but sadly we didnt get a chance to try them again.

Tapenade (recipe from Guardian weekend)
tapenadeI enjoyed Tapenade spread on toasted French bread as part of the salad I ate on our visit to Sète. The classic version of this Mediterranean favourite is a grey/black paste and looks fairly uninviting but tastes great, providing you are a lover of olives. Tapenade can be purchased in the local supermarkets but is very easy to make. Variations include tapenade made with anchovies (BBC – James Martin) and Sundried Tomatoes and basil (Delia Smith online).

Squid with Setoise sauce (Rouille)
I had this local speciality as part of another favourite restaurant dinner. I was determined to try squid and was delighted with this dish of dark strips in a creamy golden sauce, served with rice and french beans. I had not been sure what to expect but the taste was quite strong, both meaty and fishy in a sauce the waiter told us was Rouille, the recipe for which varies. There are other recipes for Rouille using red peppers (capsicum), saffron or mayonnaise.

Tiny marinaded tuna stuffed peppers (Similar recipe from ‘whatdidyoueat’)
marinaded-tuna-stuffed-peppersWe tried tiny red peppers similar to these (no bigger than a horse chestnut conker) in several restaurants. They were stuffed with tuna paste and dripping in the olive oil in which they had been preserved. We found them in the supermarket as well, either pre packed in jars or on the counter which served marinaded olives to order. Does anyone have the French name for them please?

Picpoul de Pinet (map)
picpoul-de-pinet-map-bassin-de-thau-languedocThe Picpoul vineyards overlook the oyster and mussel farms of the Étang de Thau and the grapes are grown on the limestone plateau. The light, dry white wine comes from a single grape, the Piquepoul or Picpoul (also various other names), which has a fresh and fragrant smell which we felt was similar to wines we had enjoyed on previous holidays, such as Muscadet. As with Muscadet, Picpoul de Pinet is recommended to be drunk with seafood but we enjoyed it with other food and brought a number of bottles home.

Sète is located at one end of the Bassin de Thau, a large inland lagoon famous for its oysters and mussels, which are raised on table type metal structures. On a circuit of the lake we enjoyed in particular the colourful restaurant lined harbour at Mèze and Marseillan, where the famous Noilly Prat Vermouth is made.

Cantal Cheese  cantal-cheeseEach year we enjoy trying the cheeses on the regions we travel through and in the past we have made some great discoveries. Not a speciality of the Languedoc about which I have mostly been writing, Cantal Cheese comes from the Departement of Cantal in the Auvergne, part of the French French Massif Central and was this year’s favourite. It is a hard cheese with a creamy slightly acidic taste and we ate rather too much at lunchtimes with our French bread. We were pleased to find that Super-U did a pre-packed own branded version though it would be interesting to try cheese brought from a specialist shop.

(Most of the information here was first posted on 11 October 2007 at my original blog Meanderings along the narrow way)

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Hot Sun, Cool Shadow: Savouring the Food, History and Mystery of the Languedoc – Angela Murrills – pub. Allison & Busby

Putting a passion into words, explaining why you are smitten with anything – a person, a job, a country – is never easy. But in the case of the Languedoc, the land speaks for itself. The appeals of its thyme-scented garrigue (the rough scrub that covers the inland hills), idyllic pastureland and sun-baked valleys are self-evident, but it’s the abrupt flashes in temperament that delight us, the distant mountain crags that suddenly encroach on a serene valley, the fertile plains that give way to flawless beaches, the eerie flat landscape of the Camargue and the coastal lagoons known as ètangs.

Food critic and writer Angela Murrills along with her husband, Peter Matthews, an artist who charmingly illustrates this fascinating book, recounts their journeys of discovery through Languedoc in the South of France, whilst searching for a French second home. We discover the people of this region with their ancient customs and language and Murrills recounts its long and sometimes troubled history. I was particuarly interested in the information she gave about us about the Cathars, persecuted for their Protestant beliefs, who held out in fortress strongholds such as Montségur in the Pyrenean foothills; about the building of the Canal du Midi, an impressive feat of engineering started in 1666, linking the Mediterranean with the River Gironde, which runs into the Atlantic Ocean; about the life of the locally born artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and about the places which caught the eye of painters such as Henri Matisse and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of whose paintings they find semi-forgotten on the wall in a small hotel. Murrills takes us through Languedoc not only area by area but dish by dish too as this is also a culinary journey and she gives information about regional wines and drink, food preparation and the varied cuisine, including some local recipes for the reader to try at home.

Just before my holiday I had wandered into our local library – in case they had any Langudoc guide books I had missed – and was fortunate to discover this newly shelved foodie travelogue. This type of book helps to bring a holiday alive and ‘Hot Sun, Cool Shadow’ certainly helped us discover, and try, the regional delights, both culinary and tourist, of the Languedoc. I had intended to just ‘dip’ into the chapters covering the area where we were staying but in the end the book was so good I read it all!  (I also gave a copy to my sister-in-law as a gift as she has friends in the Languedoc who she visits from time to time.)

(This review was first posted on 8 September 2007 at my original blog Meanderings along the narrow way)

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