France: Cooking Class in Normandy Part 2

Day 7  Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Perfect Day

There are three words that sum up today. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER. There is no question and other birthdays need not apply.

We started cooking right after breakfast this morning to prepare for tonight’s dinner. We made a marbled savory bread with three kinds of olives, a caramelized leek tart, a pork roast with Camembert and apples over roasted vegetables, and teurgoule. Our instructor, Sinead, is just a stitch. She’s Irish, her husband is Belgian, and their two teenage daughters, who were born in France, speak French and English with an Irish accent. She has the best stories you could ever hope to hear. We laugh so hard that it is hard to not mess up whatever we’re cooking.

Rolling the crust for the tart
The pork roast is ready for the oven.

We broke for lunch and our host suggested a little lunch spot in the nearest town of any size, Les Pieux. The special today was a cheese and endive tart, roast pork over pasta with cheese, and a praline millefeuille (one with a candle). I’m not doing any of these items justice because describing them might make you starting licking your computer screens.

Who could wish for more? Not I.
The view from the table at lunch


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After lunch we went to use the wood-burning bread oven of a friend of our teacher. His place is about fifteen minutes away down narrow roads with lots of turns. The oven is large enough to hold three whole pigs. He showed us how it works and put in our roast from this morning, the teurgoule, and we each formed a loaf of bread and placed it in the oven using his long paddle.

The smoke tells us we’re at the right place.

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He baked everything, brought it up to “our place,” and joined us for dinner. On Friday evening he is having an event at his place with jazz music, a whole roasted pig, and a bunch of French people. Jim and I were invited to attend. That should be fun, but I hope we get easier driving directions or we may never make it home.

One of the unique experiences at dinner tonight was blood pudding. Cindy had two helpings and Jim had even more. While we tried it to be polite, we have to admit it was tasty if you just don’t think about it.

Pork with apples, cheese, and roasted vegetables
Blood pudding
Leek tart
Not one, but two perfect bowls of teurgoule

In between all of this fun, we also went to a specialty grocer today and stocked up on Norman (non-food) goodies.

“Everything here is butter”


Then we went shopping and tried to find the big bowls used to make teurgoule so that we could bring one home, but our inquiries resulted in shrugged shoulders—our limited French met its match in small-town France. Oh well, we shall live to bake another day. Tomorrow we are off to the western coast of the Cotentin Peninsula.

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