Visit to Privas 2010

It’s four o’clock and not yet light
We’ve hardly slept throughout the night,
The suitcase packed , it seems, we think-
As though we’ve packed the kitchen sink.

The minibus is at the door-
With two on board there’s room for more,
Still half asleep there’s little talk-
As we speed on our way to York.

The train arrives a little late
And all are calm and sit and wait,
Yet despite delay the speed exceeds-
The train that travels down from Leeds

A sprint from King’s Cross – not too far-
The twelve true friends board Eurostar.
Massive speed  - it seemed hell-bent-
The Channel Tunnel  “came and went.”
The scenery was just a blurr-
The speed 300K “par heure.”
A quick cool drink – a hurried meal –
Before the train pulls into Lille.

On T.G.V. all had a chance –
To have a doze before Valence,
Where Privadois arrive in force –
Transport us to their homes, of course –
To take a shower and rest awhile
A happy smiling Francophile.

Morning finds us in the car –
Just up the road – not very far,
To where we donned aprons and caps –
Couldn’t tell the ladies from the chaps.
To make brioche and knead the dough –
Using finger, thumb and right elbow.

We came away with brioche whole –
Together with a sausage roll.
We failed  to say, whilst we scoffed the grub,
We’d omitted to give our elbows a scrub.

Saturday morn to display some decorum –
Donning smart clothes we arrived at the Forum,
A bit of a shock – it was shaped like a hanger –
We feared that someone in charge had dropped quite a clanger

There were sports clubs , craft clubs  - a jovial hoard
And one group of folk  made chairs from cardboard.
But no! It seemed we were in the right place –
And the two current Mayors came face to face.

After the speeches, acceptably short –
A couple of butties with white wine were sought,
A slight disappointment with the venue we feel –
Because we expected the Hotel de Ville.

Saturday evening – an evening of class –
An official reception at the Espace.
A wonderful meal – the fish was so good
I’d eaten so much – couldn’t manage the pud

We had songs sung by a lad of eight,
And Dave spoke to keep us up to date –
With the Association’s hopes for Twinning
And the membership battle  we seem to be winning.
As the clock struck  eleven it had to be said –
I was really “creamcrackered”and yearned for my bed.

Sunday arrived after a very short night –
We had to get up before it was light –
To get to Royans by ten of the clock –
A village where houses stick out of the rock.
I’ll tell you something that’s so hard to do –
It’s find a rhyme for “Suspendues.”

From there to the wonderful Musee de L’eau –
There’s everything there you might want to know –
About where water comes from like glaciers and rain –
Before you pass it  and it goes down the drain.
A rare bottle of water is there to be seen –
I can’t really believe it was passed by the Queen.

And then for our lunch eaten out in the sun –
Whilst watching  the children having such fun-
Dashing in and out  of the water fountains –
Whilst we sat back and enjoyed the mountains.

We dragged ourselves away from the view –
To travel a short way to the Bateau-a-Roue,
An opportunity too good to lose,
A fabulous paddle –steamer cruise.

A wonderful day – then back to base –
An awful task – repack the case;
Bottles of wine and bottles of oil –
A sad, but yet, a pleasant toil.

The fond farewells to friends so dear –
I sometimes ask “will we all be here
In years to come to meet with pleasure –
If not – the memories to treaure?”

To get to Privas – transport diverse –
So now we journey in reverse.

MORAL

The European  Union can be a great success –
By meeting the “real people” more and the politicians  less;
Forget the strikes and upsets – the foreign trade in tatters –
Forget the lamb – forget the beef – it’s “you and me” that matters.

It’s “you and me” and “the Privadois” who’ll make the Union “go,”
The love and trust and caring is what we need  - and so-

Let’s advertise and educate with clout, and strength and fizz –
Tell our friends and colleagues JUST HOW IT REALLY IS.

Ron Matthews 2010

 

A cookery demonstration

On our first morning in Privas we were expecting a visit to a chocolate factory. We imagined we would be watching chocolates being made and maybe getting to sample some. What we got, however, was a cookery demonstration with some hands-on practice and our own goodies to take home with us. It was a fantastic opportunity to watch a master pastry chef at work. Having donned our little white hats, we all looked the part as we rolled, shaped and decorated typical Ardéchois specialities. There was much laughter as we all tried, with varying degrees of success, to mimic Monsieur Patouillard’s, skilful handling of the dough.  We learned how to make two basic kinds of dough: brioche dough and a sweet pastry called pâte sablée. With these doughs we made saucisson brioche, a brioche crown and, the highlight of the occasion, a galette ardéchoise, which we ate almost straight out of the oven, when it was warm and melt-in-the-mouth, having had Grand Marnier poured over it before it went in the oven.  It was heavenly! We returned to our host’s homes, laden with our goodies and the recipes, only to face a barrage of questions about what we had learned. Our French hosts were quite envious of our good luck, as they would have liked to learn some of Monsieur Patouillard’s secrets. We felt privileged to have had this experience and one of these days we shall perhaps feel encouraged to have a go in our own kitchens.

Pâte sablée
300g flour
225g butter
120g icing sugar
100g ground almonds (best if the almonds have their skins on)
60g eggs (NB weigh the eggs out of their shells)

Put the butter and flour in the bowl of the mixer and beat them up together. Add the other ingredients and mix well until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for two hours.

Brioche dough
500g strong flour
50g caster sugar
10g salt
300g eggs (6 eggs)
25g fresh yeast
300g butter

Put the flour in the mixer bowl, Create a space in the side of the flour to put the sugar and salt in. Create another space for the yeast, which must not touch the salt. Add the eggs and kneed the mixture in the mixer. Do not do by hand, as the warmth from the hands would spoil the dough.
When the mixture leaves the sides of the bowl clean, take it out and put it on the work surface. Spread it out a little and put the butter in a whole piece on top of the dough. Wrap the dough round the butter and put it back in the mixer bowl, beating it until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
Allow the dough to prove at room temperature for one hour and then put it in the fridge for two hours

To make a Brioche Crown
When the brioche dough is ready take a piece weighing 350g and put it on the floured work surface, but do not put any flour on the top of the piece of dough. Form it into a ball. Now put a little flour on the top and with your elbow make a depression in the centre of the ball of dough. Pick it up in your hands and make a hole through the depression, then using both hands keep turning the circle of dough round and round, squeezing with your left hand but using the right hand merely to feed the circle round. The circle will gradually get bigger. It should be about the size of a dessert plate.
Let it prove for 2½ hours at room temperature. If you can manage the ideal temperature of 26 - 28º it will only take 1 to 1½hrs.
When it is risen brush gently with beaten egg twice and then with scissors that you have dipped in water cut a design all round the circle to make it look like a crown.
Bake at 170º for 5 minutes, then for 15 minutes at 150º,

Saucisson Brioche
150g brioche dough
10g egg
10g flour

When the dough is ready roll it out to a rectangle only slightly wider than the sausage. Brush the sausage with egg that has been beaten with a pinch of salt, and then dip it in flour. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg mixture and then place the sausage at the edge of the rectangle and roll the dough around it to enclose the sausage, leaving the ends open. Dust off the surplus flour and leave it to prove for 1 to 1½ hrs. Brush it with egg mixture and bake it for 25 minutes at 170º.

Galette ardéchoise
250g pâte sablée            For the topping               For the syrup*
250g brioche dough       50g sugar                                 100g water
12g fresh yeast              20g butter                                25g sugar
3g baking powder           50g Grand Marnier syrup         20g Grand Marnier
10g Grand Marnier

Take the two types of dough and put them in the mixer together with the fresh yeast and the baking powder. Mix all the ingredients together.
Let the dough prove for 2½hrs at room temperature.
Put the dough on the work surface and make into a ball. Let it rest a little before rolling it out to a large circle. Crimp all the way round the circle. Brush with egg mixture, sprinkle sugar over the top and dot it with about 12 curls of butter (use a teaspoon to scrape curls from the surface of the butter).
Put galette in oven and bake for 10 minutes at 170º. Immediately it comes out of the oven sprinkle the syrup over the top.
Best eaten while still fresh.

* To make the syrup mix the sugar and cold water together. Leave to stand for ½ hr, stirring occasionally. Add the Grand Marnier.

You are invited to view the photo albums from the visit below

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2 sept. 2010

 

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3 sept. 2010

 

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4 sept. 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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