I only have one week left of classes and I have to say I’m elated to have made it through.
There were moments, that my family and especially my husband can attest to where I thought I wasn’t going to make it and where the stress was overwhelming. But I have pulled through, like everyone but me knew I would, and even managed to secure two interesting internships for the next six months.
The first happens to be in Ollioules, the little town not far from Toulon. So in just 10 days, I’ll be packing up all of my things, including my oven, to be collected by the husband and driven back to my home in la Seyne. There I will spend three months learning under the chef pâtissier or pastry chef of a restaurant I know well and living once again with my husband and kitties.
In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, in June I’ll be packing up all of my things once again to move back to the Pays de la Loire to work for a wine domain in Saumur, the town next to Angers. There, I’ll be working the tourist season: giving tours, conducting tastings and helping with the sales room.
As usual, I’m going about this in a somewhat backward, disorganized fashion, but that seems to be the way the French like to do things – especially the disorganized part. So I’m going with the flow and just trying to put my worries out of my mind.
Which, if you know me, is so much easier said than done.
In the meantime, the weather in Angers has been much as promised: cold, gray, rainy. Think England. As the classes start to wind down and it’s not at all interesting to walk around town soaking my shoes, I’m spending a lot of time indoors, wrapped in multiple layers and dreaming about food.
This Camembert en croûte sounds fancy, but it’s nothing more than Camembert cheese baked in a crust until crisp and melty. It’s often found on lunch menus at brasseries where the dishes are homey, simple, and filling and served with a little green salad on the side.
Crisp flaky puff pastry and sharp cheesey goodness. It beats a bowl of soup any day.
Caramelized onions add a little tangy sweetness.
Wrap it all up and pop it in the oven until golden-brown and the puff pastry has done its puffy thing.
Don’t be afraid to play around with the filling. You can keep it simple: just cheese and crust, use fig paste, fresh figs, apples, honey, garlic, herbs, raspberries. Camembert goes well with a variety of different flavors.
I guess that since this is a traditional brasserie dish, beer would go well, but I drank a Anjou Rouge 2011: Au fil de vignes from Domaine les Grande Vignes. This is the winery that my group worked with for our project on the Bonnezeaux appellation and we got to know their wine making techniques well. What makes them stand out from the 500+ vineyards in the Loire is that they are an organic and biodynamic vineyard, using absolutely no chemical products and special agricultural techniques in their treatment of the vines and wine.
I don’t know about other countries, but in France organic wine is still somewhat suspicious. Before Domaine les Grande Vignes I counted only one vineyard that made a good organic wine. Now I know two.
This wine is not pretentious, it doesn’t have the characteristics of a full-bodied, big wine that you’re going to ruminate over for hours, tasting and digesting the different flavors. But neither is it a mere table wine, to be tossed back without any regard. It’s a soft red, with berry flavors, and a very round, equal bouche or mouth. Everything just kind of comes together without trying to be more than it is. I like that.
- 1 wheel of Camembert cheese, at room temperature
- 1 puff pastry
- any additions like figs, berries, garlic, caramelized onions etc
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Cut the puff pastry into two circles that can cover the top and bottom of the Camembert. Place the Camembert in the middle of the bottom circle and add your extras if you have any. Place the top circle over the cheese and press the top and bottom together until tightly closed
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until pastry is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Serve warm with a little green salad on the side.